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The Australian National University

Dr Justyna Miszkiewicz

BSc, PhD (Kent), PGCHE, FHEA
Lecturer in Biological Anthropology (Skeletal Biology)
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: +61 2 6125 9295

Areas of expertise

  • Biological (Physical) Anthropology 160102
  • Biological Adaptation 060303
  • Forensic Biology 069901
  • Biomechanics 110601

Research interests

I am a biological anthropologist who specialises in studying the skeletal tissue. My primary research interest is to reconstruct past human adaptation (mainly behaviour/ mechanical loading history/ overall lifestyle) from ancient skeletal remains (bioarchaeology). Secondarily, I aim to further our understanding of skeletal growth and metabolism in humans and other vertebrates (skeletal biology). My methodological specialism lies in hard tissue histology, but I also have experience in experimental biomechanics, X-ray imaging, and micro-CT. I am also a keen imaging scientist and make regular contributions to the Wellcome Images Collection. Examples include: Micro-CT scan of Japanese quail femur (2015, rendered with Drishti), AFM micrograph of human femoral bone (2014, atomic force microscopy).

Biography

I received my PhD (2014) in Biological Anthropology from the University of Kent (Canterbury, UK), where I also held a fixed-term (2013-2014) lectureship in the same discipline. I later worked in medicine (2015-2016) as part of the Molecular Endocrinology research group at Imperial College (London, UK) assisting on a Wellcome-Trust funded project (Origins of Bone and Cartilage Diseaseon osteoporosis (using the mouse model), and investigating medullary bone growth in the Japanese quail. I also undertook bone biology research for the Skeletal Biology Research Centre (SBRC, University of Kent) exploring skeletal muscle site morphology and bone remodelling in Medieval humans, and investigating long bone growth in frogs. I took up my current post at the ANU in 2016, and I am now also an Honorary Research Associate with the SBRC in the UK. 

In addition to my academic endeavours, I worked (2008-2013) as an Assistant Osteologist and later Osteologist for Kent Osteological Research and Analysis (KORA, Canterbury, UK) examining adult and juvenile human skeletal remains (including cremations). I have been lab-based almost all of my career, with some recent (2017) fieldwork experience excavating human remains and material culture in the Philippines (Metal Period).

Researcher's projects

My newly launched (2016-2018) project, partly funded by CASS, investigates ancient bone metabolism in prehistoric Indonesia. Almost all of my ongoing research projects involve the examination of ancient human skeletal histology in relation to other biological, environmental, and/or cultural factors. Some of them focus on the following themes:

  1. skeletal biorhythms (and more specifically the Havers-Halberg Oscillation hypothesis) - investigating the relationship between dental enamel and bone formation (this is a collaboration with colleagues from the University of Kent, University of Michigan, The Ohio State University),
  2. investigating the effect of biological sex and gender-specific division in labour on bone remodeling (this is a collaboration with colleagues from the University of Kent, and Victoria University of Wellington),
  3. exploring macro- and microstructural relationships in human long bones in a mechanical context (this is a collaboration with colleagues from the University of Kent, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Michigan).

Available student projects

I am looking to mentor HDR students who are interested in combining clinical/bioscience/biomedical methods/paradigms with classic bioarchaeological approaches/contexts within skeletal biology. Primarily, this will involve researching bone metabolism and/or tooth growth, and/or bone macrostructural and microstrucutral variation in relation to mechanical loading history to inform our current understanding of ancient human behaviour/lifestyle and/or skeletal health in humans from the past to the present. Secondarily, I can offer guidance on a selected range of experimental topics with forensic applications, or research questions within palaeopathology. 

Find our more about some of my current student projects here.

Current student projects

Nick Dempsey (2017-) Biomechanical analysis of skeletal trauma in Forensic Anthropology: Informing current methods using an experimental approach. PhD Biological Anthropology
Chelsea Morgan (2017-) Sex-specific bone metabolism in bioarchaeology. PhD Biological Anthropology
Sarah Robertson (2016-) Differential diagnosis of cribra orbitalia at Christ Church Spitalfields via micro-CT analysis. PhD Biological Anthropology
Bronwyn Wyatt (2017) Health and disease in prehistoric Indonesia. Master of Biological Anthropology
Coco James (2016-2017) Femoral muscle markings and the underlying cortical bone histology. Master of Biological Anthropology
Claire Rider (2017) Effects of leg pathology on femoral bone remodeling. Master of Biological Anthropology (co-supervision with Prof Marc Oxenham)
Brendan Bayliss (2017) Inferring behaviour from ancient skeletal remains based on femoral robusticity and diaphyseal measures. Archaeological Science Research Project 
Kate Phillips (2017) Using osteon population density to determine the anatomical location of human midshaft femur. Archaeological Science Research Project

Past student projects

Ashley Bridge (2016) Stature in Australian forensic contexts. Master of Archaeological Science
Natasha Langley (2016 submitted) The effects of experimental burning on enamel in a forensic and archaeological context. Master of Archaeological Science
Amy-Marie Beugelsdyk (2016) Osteon circularity in ancient human cortical bone. Archaeological Science Research Project 
Tahlia Stewart (2016) Skeletal growth rates in archaeological humans. Archaeological Science Research Project 
Meg Walker (2016) Human paleophysiology in Medieval England. Supervised Research in Biological Anthropology
Tara Mann (2016) Reading between the lines: the Aetiology of the Harris line. Supervised Research in Biological Anthropology

Publications

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Updated:  26 March 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers