Meet the Director
Dr. Jane (Wankmiller) Harris is the Director of FROST. She holds a Ph.D. in Physical Anthropology from Michigan State University (MSU), in addition to Masters degrees in Forensic Science (focus in Anthropology) and Bioarchaeology, also from MSU. Prior to arriving at NMU, Dr. (Wankmiller) Harris worked for the Michigan State Police (MSP), first within the Statewide Network of Agency Photos (SNAP) Unit, where she conducted facial recognition searches for the purpose of developing investigative leads and more recently as the Unidentified Remains Coordinator in the Missing Persons Coordination Unit (MPCU). Dr. (Wankmiller) Harris was also a forensic artist for the MSP, drawing composites of suspects based on witness/victim interviews and reconstructing faces of unidentified decedents to help with their identification. She is also a certified death investigator, with five years of experience as a Medical Examiner Investigator with Sparrow Forensic Pathology in Lansing, MI, and has investigated over 200 cases, involving all manners of death.
Dr. (Wankmiller) Harris’s dissertation research focused on a bioarchaeological analysis of human remains from the archaeological site of Jícaro, a pre-Colombian village in northwestern Costa Rica that was occupied between AD 800 and 1350. Her Master’s thesis involved a study of positive identifications made by comparisons of antemortem and postmortem lumbar spine radiographs. Dr. (Wankmiller) Harris’s research continues to focus on topics involving identification of unidentified human remains, and she hopes to return to Costa Rica to continue collaborative research with the archaeologists who conducted the excavations at Jícaro. Dr. (Wankmiller) Harris is excited about her future with NMU and FROST, working with undergraduate students on innovative research projects, and building collaborative relationships with researchers and law enforcement throughout Michigan, the U.S. and abroad.
Rachel Smith serves as the Forensic Programs Coordinator for FROST, planning and coordinating educational workshops for both law enforcement and the community, as well as assisting with data collection at FROST and the day-to-day operations of the body donation program. She received her Bachelor's in Biology from Northern Michigan University in 2019, accompanied by a minor in Anthropology. In the summer of 2018, she interned in the Office of the Medical Examiner at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker School of Medicine, working in the forensic anthropology laboratory. Her current research includes juvenile age determination based on radiographs of the knee, determination of the postmortem interval via analysis of the human microbiome, and scavenging activities of the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis).
Beth Roberts serves as the Body Donation Program Manager and Lab Assistant for FROST. She received her Bachelor's in Biology with a Physiology emphasis from NMU in 2010. After two years of medical education at Wayne State University School of Medicine, where she studied Gross Anatomy with dissection, Human Pathology, and Biochemistry, she returned to the Upper Peninsula. Beth began work on her Masters of Public Health from George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health in Washington, D.C., graduating in 2016, and completing her practicum with UP Diabetes Outreach Network in Marquette. Her masters thesis work involved the study of male victims of sexual assault on college campuses and in the military. She graduated in 2016 with honors.
Beth served on the steering committee to establish FROST. She is currently a nursing student at NMU, working on her BSN, with hopes of becoming a nurse practitioner.
Dr. Scott Demel is the Department Archaeologist and occasionally assists FROST with archaeology-related casework. He is an Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Sociology & Anthropology Department. Scott earned his BS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his MA from the University of Illinois-Chicago, and his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a major in archeology and a minor in geology. His research interests are in the ethnic groups that have used the Great Lakes regions throughout prehistory and into the mid-19th century, along with the natural environment and cultural landscape that influenced them. Prior to coming to NMU, Scott was the Head of Collections for Department of Anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago.
Scott's current and past courses can be found on the Sociology & Anthropology page.