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Forensic anthropologist Prof Sue Black talks to Jim Al-Khalili about the clues she uses to identify human bodies and how crime writers are helping her raise funds for a new morgue.

Forensic anthropologist Professor Sue Black began her career with a Saturday job working in a butcher's shop. At the time she didn't realise that this would be the start of a lifelong fascination with anatomy.

Her job has taken her to some extreme and challenging locations to identify human bodies, such as Kosovo, where she uncovered evidence used in the UN's War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

Back home, Sue has been integral in solving many high-profile criminal cases, including cracking Scotland's biggest paedophile ring in 2009.

In The Life Scientific, Jim Al-Khalili asks how she deals with the emotional pressures of the job, and why she is so fascinated by the inner workings of the human body.

In her spare time, Sue Black also advises crime fiction authors like Val McDermid, providing inspiration for new plotlines and characters.

In return, Val and a group of writers have offered to help with Sue's latest challenge - fundraising for a mortuary. This facility will use new techniques to embalm bodies and promises to revolutionise the way surgeons are trained.

Producer: Michelle Martin.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Tue 25 Feb 2014 21:30


  • Tue 25 Feb 2014 09:00
  • Tue 25 Feb 2014 21:30

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