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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).


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), undertaking skeletal phenotyping of knock-out mice on a Wellcome-Trust funded project (Origins of Bone and Cartilage Diseaseon osteoporosis, and investigating bone growth in the Japanese quail. I also undertook research at the Skeletal Biology Research Centre (SBRC, University of Kent) exploring skeletal muscle site morphology and bone remodelling in archaeological humans, and investigating long bone growth in frogs. I took up my current post at the ANU in 2016, and in 2017 I launched our Ancient Skeletal Histology (ASH) facility. 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 main, newly launched (2016-2018) project, 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. the effect of social disadvantage on bone and dental health - collaborating with University of Kent (UK), University of Melbourne, Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science (AIMSS),
  2. skeletal biorhythms (and more specifically the Havers-Halberg Oscillation hypothesis) - collaborating with University of Kent (UK), University of Michigan (US), The Ohio State University (US),
  3. bone remodeling and limb biomechanics in bioarchaeology and skeletal biology - collaborating with University of Kent (UK), Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Germany), University of Michigan (US),
  4. sex-specific bone metabolism in bioarchaeology - collaborating with University of Kent (UK), Victoria University of Wellington (NZ).

Ancient Skeletal Histology (ASH) facility

In 2017, I set up the Ancient Skeletal Histology (ASH) facility (SoAA, CASS equipment funding) housed within our Archaeology and Anthropology Microscope Lab (LG14 AD Hope Building). With the assistance of our Lab Technician, David McGregor, I manage the facility, and provide training and ancient skeletal tissue processing protocols.

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. 

Current student projects

Nick Dempsey (2017-) Biomechanical analysis of skeletal trauma in Forensic Anthropology: Informing current methods using an experimental approach. PhD Biological Anthropology (primary supervisor + panel chair)
Chelsea Morgan (2017-) Sex-specific bone metabolism in bioarchaeology. PhD Biological Anthropology (primary supervisor + panel chair)
Alejandra Cares Henriquez (2017-) Linear enamel hypoplasia - macroscopic and microscopic perspectives. PhD Biological Anthropology (panel member)
Sarah Robertson (2016-) Differential diagnosis of cribra orbitalia at Christ Church Spitalfields via micro-CT analysis. PhD Biological Anthropology (primary supervisor)

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)

Short-term graduate research projects
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) The effects of experimental burning on enamel in a forensic and archaeological context. Master of Archaeological Science

Short-term graduate* and undergraduate** research projects
*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


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Updated:  23 April 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers