Scientific research is simply a systemic way of collecting data to answer questions. At FIRS, we teach students to ask testable questions and design projects that directly answer the questions. We teach students to determine the probability that their answer is correct, and how to write and orally present their research.

We also welcome researchers from other institutions, and actively collaborate with scholars outside CMU in projects that span multiple disciplines.

All researchers, from CMU and elsewhere, must at all times treat the human remains with respect. Photography is limited to that needed directly to the research as is access to donor information (generally variables such as age, sex, height).



Connor, M.A., C. Baigent, E.S. Hansen (in press). Testing the Use of Pigs as Human Proxies in Decomposition Studies. Journal of Forensic Science.

Hansen, E.S., C. Baigent, S.I. Reck, M.A Connor. (2017). Bioelectrical Impedance as a Technique for Estimating Postmortem Interval. Journal of Forensic Science doi 10.1111/1556-4029.13695

Dabbs, G.R., J.A. Bytheway and M.A. Connor. (2017) Comparing the Scoring of Human Decomposition from Digital Images to Scoring Using On-site Observations. Journal of Forensic Science 62 (5):1292-1296.

Dabbs, G.R., M.A. Connor, J.A. Bytheway (2016). Interobserver Reliability of the Total Body Score System for Quantifying Human Decomposition. Journal of Forensic Science 61(2):445-451.

Couse, t., M.A. Connor (2015) A Comparison of Maceration Techniques for Use in Forensic Skeletal Preparations. Journal of Forensic Investigation. 3(1):6.

Bytheway, J.A., M.A. Connor, G.R. Dabbs, C.A. Johnston, M.Sunkel. 2015. The Ethics and Best Practice of Human Decomposition Facilities in the United States. Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal 6:3-4, 59-68.


Student Presentations:

Agan, C. (2017). Decomposition Rates: Autopsied vs. Non-autopsied Human Remains. CMU Student Showcase, Grand Junction, CO.

Alferos, M.E., K.L. Murphy, M.A. Connor, E.S. Hansen, K.N. White (2017). Investigation of Changing Soil Phosphorous Concentrations Around Decomposing Human Remains via Available Phosphorous Analysis. CMU Student Showcase, Grand Junction, CO.

Garcia, S. (2017) Using ALS to Visualize Tattoos on Decomposed Human Remains. CMU Student Showcase, Grand Junction, CO.

Moschetti, H. (2017). Comparing Biological to Self-Reported Ancestry in Human Crania. CMU Student Showcase, Grand Junciton, CO.

Reck, S.I., E.S. Hansen, and M.A. Connor (2017). Correlation of Bioelectric Impedance Metrics to Accumulated Degree Days Among Body Segments Using Gel Pad Electrodes. CMU Student Showcase, Grand Junction, CO.

Reck, S., E.S. Hansen, M.A. Connor (2016) Using Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis to Estimate Post-Mortem Interval. CMU Student Showcase, Grand Junction.

Bryant, K. (2015). Microscopic analysis of Postmortem Root Banding. CMU Student Showcase, Grand Junction, CO.

Couse, T. (2015). A Study of the Most Effective Maceration Methods. CMU Student Showcase, Grand Junction, CO.

Heimlich-Bowler, G. (2015). Bioelectrical Impedance as a Method of Estimating the Post Mortem Interval. CMU Student Showcase, Grand Junction, CO.

Bussell, A. (2014). Using the Infrared Thermometer to Predict Decomposition. CMU Student Showcase, Grand Junction, CO.


For Researchers:

Qualified researchers can conduct research at either the Outdoor Research Laboratory or using the skeletal collected. Interested researchers should:

1. Contact the FIRS Director at

2. Complete the Research Request Form and return to the FIRS Director with a research proposal.

3. FIRS staff will review the proposal and inform the principal investigator whether the research is accepted and if any fees will be involved (for instance, for PPE or in association with storage or use of human remains).

4. Upon acceptance, the principal investigator will be asked to complete the confidentiality and waiver forms.

5. Upon completion of the research, FIRS will retain copies of any photographs and will be acknowledged in any presentations or publications resulting from the work.