Faculty Experts

Dr. Dawn Mulhern

Dr. Dawn Mulhern
Chair and Professor of Anthropology &
Coordinator of the Forensic Studies Minor


  • Skeletal biology
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Bioarchaeology
  • Paleopathology
  • Human evolution
  • Repatriation


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1996
  • M.A., Anthropology, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1994
  • B.S., Cornell University, 1992


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Dr. Dawn Mulhern is available to comment on topics related to areas of interest or expertise. If you need further assistance, contact Public Affairs at 970-247-7401 or by email.

About Dr. Dawn Mulhern

Dawn Mulhern is chair and professor of Anthropology and coordinator of the Forensic Studies Minor at Fort Lewis College. She joined the college in 2005. Dr. Mulhern is an expert in identifying human skeletal remains and frequently works with local law enforcement to provide expertise on forensic cases as well as local and state government agencies and tribes in cases of prehistoric or historic contexts. 

In spring 2015, she was a visiting scientist with the New York Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Her research focuses on the areas of skeletal biology, forensic anthropology, bioarchaeology, paleopathology and repatriation. Currently, Dr. Mulhern and her students study the Basketmaker II people in the Durango area. This research is part of several multidisciplinary efforts funded largely by grants from the State Historic Fund for the Darkmold Site and Falls Creek Rockshelters. Dr. Mulhern is a forensic anthropologist for the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, a federal mass disaster response team.

Dr. Mulhern has published work in bone histology, paleopathology and methods of assessing age at death in such journals as the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, the Journal of Forensic Sciences, and the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, and has presented at numerous national conferences. Dr. Mulhern has taught workshops in forensic histology for the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. She led a skeletal anatomy program attended by Fort Lewis students at a rainforest conservancy in Nicaragua. Prior to joining Fort Lewis, Dr. Mulhern was an osteologist in the Repatriation Laboratory at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Dr. Mulhern is the recipient of the Fort Lewis College Featured Scholar Award (2015-16) and has served as the college’s Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation coordinator for the past decade. She is co-chair of the Academic Standards Committee and the science representative for the General Education Council. She also currently serves as chair of the Education Subcommittee of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) Humanitarian and Human Rights Resource Center and is a member of the AAFS editorial board.

In the Media

"Finding the stories behind the skeletons: From Basketmaker sites to crime sites, Fort Lewis College’s Mulhern and students use bones to probe the past," The Durango Herald, November, 2015

Selected Book Chapters

Mulhern DM. “Differentiating human from nonhuman skeletal remains,” in Handbook of Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology, Second Edition, S Blau and DH Ubelaker, eds. Left Coast Press, in press

Mulhern DM. Ubelaker DH “Differentiating human from nonhuman bone microstructure,” in Bone Histology:  An Anthropological Perspective, S Stout and C Crowder, eds. CRC Press, 2012

Mulhern DM. “Postcranial metrics,” in Osteoware Software Volume I, CA Wilczak and JC Dudar, eds. Smithsonian Institution, 2011

Selected Presentations, Publications and Reports

Mulhern DM. “Entheseal changes (musculoskeletal stress markers) in an Ancient Puebloan population,” poster presented at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 2014

Mulhern DM. “Trauma patterns in a Basketmaker II population from Durango, Colorado,” paper presented at the 78th Meeting of the Society of American Archaeologists in Honolulu, Hawaii, 2013 with Mona Charles.

Mulhern DM. “Mortuary Patterns at Falls Creek,” paper presented at the 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Portland, OR, April 11-14, 2012 with Mona Charles.

Skedros JG, Knight AN, Clark GC, Crowder CM, Dominguez VM, Qiu S, Mulhern DM, Donahue SW, Busse B, Hulsey BI, Zedda M, Sorenson SM. “Scaling of Haversian canal surface area to secondary osteon bone volume in ribs and limb bones,” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2013

Mulhern DM, Wilczak CA. “Frequency of complete cleft sacra in a Native American sample,” International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 2012

Mulhern DM, Ubelaker DH. “Bone microstructure in juvenile chimpanzees. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2009.

Mulhern DM, Charles MC, Larmore S. “Ignacio School District Cemetery Mitigation and Relocation Project La Plata county, Colorado.” Prepared by ERO Resources Corporation, ERO Project #5465, Colorado State Lands Permit No. 2014-83, 2014.