Staff profile

Dr Nivien Speith

Lecturer in Biological and Forensic Anthropology (Forensic Science)


Forensic Science


College of Science and Engineering


School of Human Sciences

Research centre

Human Sciences Research Centre




Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



I am a Biological Anthropologist and Bioarchaeologist, and joined the College of Life and Natural Sciences in September 2017 as Lecturer in Biological and Forensic Anthropology (Forensic Science).

The multiple facets of anthropology, bioarchaeology and forensic science offer great opportunities to explore lives past and present, and I am fascinated by the opportunities afforded by interdisciplinary approaches to exploring human lives in a biocultural framework. My research draws from biological anthropology and bioarchaeology and their application to forensic contexts, as well as funerary and social archaeology, human skeletal biology and palaeopathology. In particular, I am interested in exploring identity in all its iterations from archaeological, biological, and socio-cultural as well as historical perspectives.

Developing approaches for a bioarchaeology of identity, I explore social organisation and identities of past people from Antiquity through to the Medieval Period in Northwest Europe and the Mediterranean. The primary tools I use are the analysis of patterns of skeletal health and activity, informed by clinical aspects of human skeletal biology and complemented by stable isotope analysis from biological tissues, combined with archaeological material and socio-historic evidence for an integrated bioarchaeological interpretation. I have extensive experience in the analysis of human skeletal remains, and am particularly interested in how we can reconstruct patterns of daily life, activity and stress from the skeleton, exploring lifestyles in their social context.

My work in Forensic Anthropology comprises consultation in forensic cases with regard to bioprofiling and research into the application of biocultural approaches to identification, as well as a keen interest in forensic biohistory and facial reconstruction.

My pedagogic interests centre around how we can provide a truly comprehensive, innovative, collaborative and global curriculum in teaching in these interdisciplinary areas. I am aiming at developing a signature pedagogy for bioanthropology and bioarchaeology through innovation and collaboration, incorporating a global component as well as an emphasis on the inclusiveness of learners.

Teaching responsibilities

Forensic Anthropology (Module Leader)

Serious and Organised Crime (Pathway Leader: Craniofacial Identification)

Preparing for Independent Research (Module Leader)

Professional interests

Research interests

Membership of professional bodies

American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) (Member)

Paleopathology Association (PPA) (Board Member; PPNL Editor-in-Chief)

British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO) (Member)

Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) (Fellow)

Higher Education Academy (Fellow)


PhD Biological Anthropology and Bioarchaeology, University of Bradford (2013)

MSc Forensic Anthropology (Distinction), University of Bradford (2006)

MA Classical Archaeology, History of Art and Paleoanthropology (Distinction), Eberhard-Karls Universitaet Tuebingen (2005)

PGCE in Higher Education (Distinction), Bournemouth University (2016)

Recent conferences

Between Land and Sea - Bioarchaeological Dynamics at Middle Bronze Age Sidon, Lebanon. (with H Schutkowski). Poster presentation. 86th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA), New Orleans, Louisiana (2017)

Care for the afterlife? A bioarchaeological investigation of a Romano-British decapitation burial. Podium presentation, 42nd Annual Paleopathology Association (PPA) Meeting, St. Louis, Missouri (2015)

Mobile lives, mobile biologies: Tracing social ranking in the bioarchaeological record. Podium presentation, 16th Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO), Durham, UK (2014)

Patterns of disease at Sidon, Lebanon – a Middle Bronze Age population in regional diachronic comparison.(with H Schutkowski, M Golloher, R Mikulski, A Sołtysiak). Podium presentation, 20th European Meeting of the Paleopathology Association (PPA), Lund, Sweden (2014)

Exploring Lived Identities via Bioarchaeological Analysis:  Local Biologies and Social Identities of the Alamanni. Podium presentation, 41st Annual Paleopathology Association (PPA) Meeting, Calgary, Alberta, Canada (2014)

The manly tale of warriorhood: A bespoke identity in the light of funerary and osteological evidence. Podium presentation, 35th Annual Conference of the Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG), Bournemouth, UK (2013)

‘Skeletal’ identities of males in early medieval weapon burials (Bioarchaeology of the Lifecourse). Podium presentation, International Medieval Congress Leeds, UK (2013)

Shielded in death, not in life: Trauma and facets of warriorhood identity in early medieval Alamannia.(with CJ Knüsel). Poster presentation, 40th Annual Paleopathology Association (PPA) Meeting, Knoxville, Tennessee (2013)

A warrior’s arms: ‘Skeletal’ identities of males in early medieval weapon burials. Podium presentation, 14th Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO), Bournemouth, UK (2012)

Ranking food - Diet and social variation in early medieval populations from southwest Germany. (with H Schutkowski). Podium presentation, 34th Annual Conference of the Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG), Liverpool, UK (2012)

Health, diet and gender - patterns of complex identity in early medieval Pleidelsheim (with H Schutkowski). Podium presentation, 19th European Meeting of the Paleopathology Association (PPA), Lille, France (2012)

Working activities or workload? Categorization of occupation in identified skeletal series for the analysis of activity-related osseous changes. (with G Perréard Lopreno et al.). Poster presentation, 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA), Portland (2012)

Identifying differential patterns of activity: Potentials and limits of tracing entheseal changes in archaeological populations. Podium presentation, 80th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA), Minneapolis (2011)

Towards a differential identification of activity. Podium presentation, 12th Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO), Cambridge (2010)

Differential identification of activity-related markers: possibilities and limitations of tracing entheseal changes in archaeological populations. Podium presentation, 18thEuropean Meeting of the Paleopathology Association (PPA), Vienna, Austria (2010)

Epidemic tuberculosis in the Early Medieval Period? Seven possible cases of tuberculosis among the burials from the Alamannic cemetery “Sulz am Eck“, Germany (with I Trautmann). Poster presentation, 11th Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO), Bradford (2009)

Forensic Facial Reconstruction of the Mouth from Dentoskeletal Evidence - A Pilot Study. Poster presentation, 10th Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO), Oxford (2008)

Experience in industry

International experience

Recent publications

Ashencaen Crabtree, S, Speith, N, Choe, J (2018). Talk About Success. BU women academics speak. London: Women’s Academic Network, Catford Print Centre.

Villotte, S, Assis, S, Cardoso, FA, Henderson, CY, Mariotti, M, Milella, M, Pany-Kucera, D, Speith, N, Wilczak, C, Jurmain, R (2016). In Search of Consensus: Terminology for Entheseal Changes (EC). International Journal of Paleopathology 13: 49-55 (doi:10.1016/j.ijpp.2016.01.003).

Milella, M, Alves Cardoso, F, Assis, S, Perréard Lopreno, G & Speith, N (2015). Exploring the relationship between entheseal changes and physical activity: a multivariate study. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 156 (2): 215-223 (DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22640).

Cheetham, P, Evans, D, Gerdau-Radonic, K, Hambleton, E, Hewitt, I, Manley, H, Russell, M, Smith, M & Speith, N (2015). Bronze Age to Late Roman settlement at Winterborne Kingston (The 'Big Dig') - Second Interim Report. Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History & Archaeological Society 136: 157-161.

Speith, N (2014). Enthesiale Veränderungen (Entheseal changes), in Wahl, J., Speith, N, Quast, D, Zink, A, Price, D. Neue Erkenntnisse zur frühmittelalterlichen Separatgrablege von Niederstotzingen, Kreis Heidenheim (New results from the Early-Medieval cemetery of Niederstotzingen). Fundberichte aus Baden-Württemberg 34/2. Landesamt für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart: Theiss Verlag: 341 - 390.

Perréard Lopreno, G, Alves Cardoso, F, Assis, S, Milella, M & Speith, N (2013). Categorization of occupation in documented skeletal collections: Its relevance on the interpretation of activity-related osseous changes. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology Special Issue: Entheseal changes 23 (2): 175-185 (DOI: 10.1002/oa.2301).