Amy Mundorff, a doctoral student in forensic anthropology at SFU, is the recipient of one of the coveted Trudeau Foundation scholarships. Mundorff will receive $35,000 for each of the next three years.
The forensic anthropologist is being recognized for her transformation of forensic material from the 9-11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre into standards and protocols for identifying highly fragmented victims of mass fatalities.
Mundorff was an anthropologist working at the New York City office of the chief medical examiner at the time two planes slammed into the World Trade Centre. Mundorff was part of a team from her office that went to the centre to assess what kind of mortuary needed to be set up after the second plane hit.
She was caught in debris when a building collapsed on her, but she escaped unharmed.
After being freed, the Connecticut native used her understanding of anthropology, DNA and bone fragmentation to help identify the remains of the thousands of victims of the terrorist attack.
She also travelled to Thailand to apply knowledge gained from the New York disaster to identify victims of Thailand's Boxing Day tsunami.
Mundorff's doctoral research at SFU is dedicated to analyzing the data of nearly 20,000 pieces of human remains recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Centre. She hopes her work on DNA preservation and skeletal survivability will help policy makers prepare for future mass fatality events.
Named after the late Canadian prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the Trudeau scholarships are the largest in Canada for doctoral studies in the social sciences and humanities. They help defray the tuition and living expenses of doctoral candidates who stand out because their research addresses compelling present-day concerns.
The winning scholars must also demonstrate a unique ability to communicate their research.