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The Australian National University

Dr Justyna Miszkiewicz

Lecturer, 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
  • Archaeological Science 210102
  • Systems Physiology 111603

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 am passionate about all things palaeohistology - I think it's incredible how much information about a past animal's biology, growth, and adaptation we can reconstruct from bone and tooth microstructure!


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

Currently, I mainly reconstruct bone palaeometabolism (in the context of behaviour/lifestyle) for human samples from prehistoric Philippines, Indonesia, Tonga, Solomon Islands, sites in the UK and Iran. Almost all of my ongoing research projects involve the examination of ancient skeletal histology in relation to other biological, environmental, and/or cultural factors. Some of them focus on the following themes: (a) the effect of social disadvantage on bone and dental health, (b) skeletal biorhythms - the Havers-Halberg Oscillation hypothesis, (c) bone remodeling and limb biomechanics in bioarchaeology and skeletal biology. In 2017, I set up the Ancient Skeletal Histology (ASH) facility housed within our Archaeology and Anthropology Microscope Lab (LG14 AD Hope Building).

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

Alejandra Henriquez - Linear enamel hypoplasia: macroscopic and microscopic perspectives (PhD) 
Chelsea Morgan - Sex and gender in bioarchaeology (PhD)
Danielle Rosenquist - Cortical bone histology in human foot and hand phalanges (Master of Biological Anthropology)
Coco James - Femoral muscle markings and the underlying cortical bone histology (Master of Biological Anthropology)

Past student projects

Sarah Robertson - Differential diagnosis of cribra orbitalia at Christ Church Spitalfields via micro-CT analysis (PhD, submitted 2017)
Stephanie Robinson - Chalcolithic Wedge Tombs and an Iron Age Burial: An osteobiography and trauma assessment of an individual from the Burren, County Clare, Ireland (Master of Biological Anthropology, submitted 2017)  
Bronwyn Wyatt - Health and disease in prehistoric Indonesia (Master of Biological Anthropology, awarded 2017)
Claire Rider - Effects of leg pathology on femoral bone remodeling. (Master of Biological Anthropology, awarded 2017)
Natasha Langley - The effects of experimental burning on Sus scrofa domesticus dental enamel in a forensic and archaeological context (Master of Archaeological Science, awarded 2016)
Ashley Bridge - Bridging the gap: Looking at new ways to identify stature in Forensics using contemporary Australian anthropometric data (Master of Archaeological Science, awarded 2016)

See all here


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Updated:  18 November 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers