I am delighted to welcome to the Department Baroness Black, the next President of St John's College. Sue is a very distinguished forensic anatomist and her presence will be inspiring for medical students and faculty. - Head of Department Professor David Paterson
Professor Black said: “It is a tremendous honour and privilege to be offered a visiting professorship in Anatomy at DPAG. I look forward to rediscovering my anatomical roots and re-engaging with students in this glorious discipline. The dissecting room is a Rubicon that all anatomists must cross, and when I walked into that cavernous room in Aberdeen University in 1980, I knew in my heart that I had come home. However, I was not prepared for the reality of how much more the teacher must know than the student, until I started to teach the subject in St Thomas’ Medical School in London in 1986. It was here that I was given the opportunity to widen my field of view and began to translate my subject into the fascinating world of forensic investigations. I look forward enormously to sharing my research and experiences with students at Oxford.”
Professor Dame Sue Black studied human anatomy and forensic anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, graduating with a BSc in Anatomy in 1982, before completing her PhD in 1987. She then became a lecturer in Anatomy at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, where police would occasionally seek her help in identifying bones, enabling her to become increasingly involved in forensic anatomy.
Between 1992 and 2003 she worked as a consultant in forensic anthropology for the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the United Nations to help identify victims and perpetrators of various conflicts, including Iraq and Sierra Leone. In 2001, she was awarded an OBE for her work as lead forensic anthropologist examining the remains of victims of atrocities in Kosovo.
From 2003 to 2018 she was Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology at Dundee University, taking over the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification. She went onto assist with the prosecution of perpetrators of child sexual abuse, receiving a police commendation for her work developing new forensic techniques to identify the vein and skin patterns in the hands and forearms. The method has aided the identification of child sex offenders and led to multiple convictions.
In 2016, Professor Black was awarded a DBE for her contributions to forensic anthropology. In 2018, she was awarded the Saltire Book of the Year Award for her bestselling memoir, ‘All That Remains: A Life in Death’. Among numerous other awards, she also holds the Anatomical Society gold medal for her distinguished contribution to the field of anatomy. In 2021, she entered the House of Lords as a crossbencher peer as Baroness Black of Strome.
Professor Black most recently held the position of Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement at Lancaster University. She is also the current President of the Royal Anthropological Institute. As of September 2022, she is the 37th President of St John’s College, University of Oxford.