Dr. Diana Messer is a forensic anthropologist and anatomist with field, laboratory,
and classroom experience in both subject areas. She specializes in pediatric fracture
healing, with additional interest integrating soft tissue anatomy with skeletal analysis.
As a forensic anthropologist, Dr. Messer has worked on over 100 forensic cases, including
many forensic archaeological searches and recoveries. She has trained with multiple
ABFA-certified forensic anthropologists at various institutions including the NYC
OCME. Dr. Messer worked for two years as a forensic anthropologist in support of the
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) in Hawai’i, where she was certified to work
on forensic anthropology cases and material evidence. She worked primarily on the
Cabanatuan Project, which represents DPAA’s effort to identify unidentified service
members from a WWII POW prison camp cemetery in the Philippines. Dr. Messer has mentored
undergraduate and graduate students in forensic field recovery, laboratory analysis,
and case report writing, including as a postdoctoral faculty member at Mercyhurst
University. She has supervised students on bioarchaeological field sites around the
world including Poland and Oman, conducted research based in Peru, and worked in cultural
resource management. Dr. Messer presents research across the fields of anthropology,
forensic science, and radiology, and looks forward to including students in her work.
She consults on forensic cases including skeletal analysis (e.g., trauma assessment),
forensic archaeological search and recovery, determination of forensic significance,
and cold cases. In addition, Dr. Messer can provide training and workshops in all
areas of forensic anthropology including lab and field methods.
Dr. Messer is an experienced educator, with specialized training in college and university
teaching. Her teaching is based on a foundation of communication that fosters active
learning through use of novel teaching methodologies as well as real-world forensic
experience. She believes multiple learning modalities create a sense of agency and
engagement that is especially important in the age of constant connection and feedback.
Her goal as an educator is to cultivate a comfortable and safe learning environment
through open communication and accessibility. Dr. Messer values student perspectives
and it is important to her to incorporate student feedback in her classes.
Dr. Messer is primarily interested in skeletal trauma with emphasis on radiographic
assessment of healing fractures in children. Her goal is to improve methods to estimate
time since injury, which can be essential evidence in identification of child physical
abuse. She studies the effect of variables such as child age and fracture location
on fracture healing. Existing methods to estimate fracture age are inadequate, and
her research demonstrates that differences in healing based on child age and fracture
location exist. Dr. Messer is currently working to examine additional fracture locations,
explore the effect of abuse, and incorporate other imaging modalities.