Lauren Pharr was recently awarded the J. Lawrence Angel Award from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS). The J. Lawrence Angel award is a longstanding and most honorable mark of distinction and professional recognition within the Physical Anthropology Section of the Academy. In order to be eligible for the award, a student must hold membership in the physical anthropology section of the AAFS. AAFS is a nonprofit professional society that is devoted to the improvement, the administration and the achievement of justice through the application of science to the processes of law. AAFS members are physicians, attorneys, dentists, toxicologists, physical anthropologists, document examiners, psychiatrists, engineers, criminalists, educators and others who practice, study and perform research in the forensic sciences. They represent all 50 states, Canada and 50 other countries worldwide.
“Words cannot even begin to describe how honored and grateful I am,” said Pharr, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography and Anthropology.
Lauren received the Angel award for her work with vultures; after one year of baiting vultures using over 100 deceased animals across an area of approximately 6,000 km2, Lauren was able to define the 14 traits indicative of vulture scavenging. She was then able to back up the data using her experiences from GPS tagging and monitoring the hourly locations of six vultures that were released in Texas. In sum, the visual traits vultures leave behind on a body are a result of the vulture’s physiology and soaring behavior.
Lauren said winning such a notable award for talking about something she is passionate about confirms her internal drive to have a career in forensic science helping to solve crimes. Lauren said she plans to seek a career with a federal or state law enforcement agency, or start a consulting firm that combines anthropology, GIS, and vultures.