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Special Discounts for Girl Scouts: June 2-11

Kari Bruwelheide

Forensic Anthropoligist, National Museum of Natural History


Kari examining burial.
What I work on at the Smithsonian.

I am a Forensic Anthropologist (also known as a Physical Anthropologist) at the National Museum of Natural History. I study human skeletal remains from the present all the way back to about 10,000 years. My work entails examining the bones for clues about who that person was, how they lived, and how they died. No matter how ancient the skeleton is or how recent (we do a lot of forensic case work for law enforcement) the techniques we use to gather the information are the same.

Best moment at the Smithsonian.

I love working at the museum. Everyone here really likes what they do and that makes a great working environment. I don’t know if I have a “best moment” but opening an exhibition dealing with our work was near the top of the list. Usually our research is done behind closed doors. Being able to plan and execute an exhibit for the public was very different and challenging, but amazing as well.

Advice you’d give Girl Scouts interested in a career like yours?

Don’t be afraid to volunteer and try new things. There are lots of opportunities for people to get involved in anthropology/archaeology or many other fields. Go to your local museum or historical society and ask what programs they have. Talk to adults in careers you might be interested in, and always be willing to try new things, even if you are not sure it interests you. I volunteered in graduate school to help with the university’s skeletal collections and that changed my whole career path. DON’T think you need to be super smart to succeed in a certain career. You need only to have the desire and willingness to work hard, listen and learn.

Learn more!

Written in Bone: Forensic Files of 17th-Century Chesapeake

The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins: What Does It Mean To Be Human?

Ask me about my work at the Smithsonian!

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