College of Arts and Sciences
Anthropology and Sociology
Dr. Diana Messer is a board-certified 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.
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.