The Northern Michigan University Forensic Research Outdoor Station is located in a northern latitude and is currently the only outdoor forensic research facility in the world that seeks to advance our understanding of how human taphonomy and decomposition are affected by long winters with months of substantial snow accumulation and extended springs with repeated freeze-thaw events.
Because FROST and FARL rely on a body donation program and the success of our program depends on our ability to ensure ethical treatment of our donors, in addition to protecting the privacy of our donors and their families, access to both facilities is restricted. Tours of the FROST facility are prohibited.
Outdoor Facility: Forensic Research Outdoor Station (FROST)
The NMU FROST property is composed of approximately one acre of fenced research space, located south of the NMU campus on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior. The research facility is surrounded on all sides by a privacy fence. There is an on-site building at FROST, which was constructed in the Fall of 2017 by seniors in NMU’s Construction Management program. The on-site building provides a space for storage of supplies, protection from the elements, and limited on-site analysis. The site is also equipped with a HOBO weather station, which allows for the collection and analysis of site-specific weather data, including temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, precipitation, and sunlight.
All donors placed at FROST are covered by metal cages to prevent access by scavengers (e.g., raccoons, foxes, coyotes, vultures, eagles, seagulls, etc.). Access to the FROST facility is restricted and NMU enforces strict security measures.
Indoor Facility: Forensic Anthropology Research Laboratory (FARL)
The FARL facility is a free-standing building on the north side of NMU’s campus. In addition to two laboratory spaces, the building holds a conference room, two offices, restrooms, mechanical and custodial rooms, and a large garage area.
The laboratory spaces are divided into an intake/processing laboratory and an analysis laboratory. Access to both labs is restricted.