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Artifact Processing Laboratory Coordinator, Graduate Program Initiative Committee
Graduate Student

Advisor: Dr. Dale Hutchinson
Alumni Building 108

About Andrea

I am a biological anthropologist interested in skeletal health and mobility of humans in the past. Prior to coming to the University of North Carolina, I graduated from Mercyhurst University with my M.S. in Anthropology (concentration in Forensic and Biological Anthropology). Following graduation, I worked at Mercyhurst as an instructor for the 2018-2019 academic year. I also oversaw curation of the Donated Human and Zooarchaeological Collections and acted as the Body Donation Program Coordinator at Mercyhurst. To date, I have assisted with over 70 forensic cases involving the recovery and laboratory analysis of human remains from forensic scenes across the northeastern United States and Puerto Rico. I have also interned in two National Museums (Ireland and Cosa Rica). I have spent the last seven field seasons excavating and analyzing remains from archaeological sites in the Basque Country (northern Spain).

Research Interests

Human variation, forensic anthropology, bioarchaeology, skeletal indicators of health and stress, taphonomy, age-at-death estimation, isotope analysis, archaeoproteomics, trauma analysis, nonmetric traits, biostatistics, human rights investigations, repatriation, community archaeology

Research Background

Andrea Zurek-Ost is a PhD Candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her dissertation research in the Basque Country focuses on the intersection of mobility and skeletal health in the past through stable isotope methods. She is also engaged in archaeoproteomics, forensic taphonomy, sex estimation, and age-at-death estimation research. Her past research has explored the efficacy of morphological traits of the pelvis in age-at-death estimations, the application of taphonomic and archaeological principles to crime scene reconstructions, and the role of the forensic anthropologist at fatal fire scenes.


M.S., Mercyhurst University, 2018; B.S. (Honors), Central Michigan University, 2015


Cabo, Luis; Dirkmaat, Dennis; Zurek-Ost, Andrea. Taphonomy and Biological Anthropology. In: A Companion to Biological Anthropology (2nd edition), Clark Spencer Larsen (ed). Wiley Blackwell, 2023.

Dunn, Rhian; Zurek-Ost, Andrea; Lynch, Paige; Warren, Carrie. Biography: Dennis C. Dirkmaat, Ph.D., D-ABFA: A Brief Visit with an Influential Anthropologist. Forensic Anthropology, 2022;5(4):285-291. DOI: 10.5744/fa.2021.0030.

Ost, Andrea. Age-at-Death Estimation from the Auricular Surface of the Ilium: A Test of a Sex-Specific Component Method. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2022;00:1–9.–4029.14983.

Ost, Andrea; Messer, Diana; Dirkmaat, Dennis. The Role of Forensic Anthropologists at the Fatal Fire Recovery: A Retrospective Study of Cases from 1983–2020. Forensic Anthropology, 2022;5(1):46–52.

Ost, Andrea; Dunn, Rhian; Dirkmaat, Dennis. What Forensic Taphonomy Can Do for You: A Case Study in Rural Pennsylvania. In: Case Studies in Forensic Anthropology: Bonified Skeletons, Heather Garvin and Natalie Langley (ed). CRC Press, 2019.

Altes, Kristina; Ost, Andrea; Perez, Dorianis; Constantino, Audrey; Carpenter, Kelsey; Ferguson, Dreana; and Bohne, Carrie. Bertillon, Alphonse. In: The International Encyclopedia of Biological Anthropology, Wenda Trevathan (ed). John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2018.


2024 Zurek-Ost, Andrea; Sorensen, Mark. “Innominate Weight Over the Lifespan: A Method for Estimating Age from the Pelvis.” Presentation at the 76th annual American Academy of Forensic Sciences conference, Denver, CO.

2024 Zurek-Ost, Andrea; Mordant, Angie; Bonthorne, Emma; Mills, Allie; Webb, Thomas; Barker, Natalie; Sandstrom, Michael; Herring, Laura. “A Comparison of Osteological and Proteomics-Based Sex Estimation Methods: Investigations from a Commingled Assemblage in Northern Iberia.” Presentation at the 10th annual Southeastern Biological Anthropology Interest Group (SEBIG) conference, Chapel Hill, NC.

2024 Zurek-Ost, Andrea; Mordant, Angie; Mills, Allie; Webb, Thomas; Barker, Natalie; Bonthorne, Emma; Herring, Laura. “Biological Sex Estimation from Human Dental Enamel Using Mass Spectrometry: A Test in a Commingled Burial Context from the Iberian Peninsula.” Presentation at the 72nd annual American Society for Mass Spectrometry conference, Anaheim, CA.

2024 Bonthorne, Emma; Zurek-Ost, Andrea; Loe, Louise; Griffiths, David; Schendzierlorz, Sofie-Kristen; Valle de Tarazaga, Francisco. “Advanced Osteological Techniques in the Exhumation and Analysis of a Historic Mass Grave in Roncesvalles, Spain.” Presentation at the 30th annual European Association of Archaeologists conference, Rome, Italy.

2024 Herring, Laura; Mills, Allie; Webb, Thomas; Mordant, Angie; Barker, Natalie; Zurek-Ost, Andrea; Bonthorne, Emma. “Biological Sex Estimation from Human Dental Enamel Using Mass Spectrometry: A Test in a Commingled Burial Context from the Iberian Peninsula.” Presentation at the 20th annual U.S. Human Proteome Organization (US HUPO) conference, Portland, OR.

2023 Zurek-Ost, Andrea; Bonthorne, Emma. “Inferring Geographic Origins from Individuals Buried Along the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage Route: Insights from the Silo of Charlemagne Cemetery.” Presentation at the 92nd annual American Association of Biological Anthropologists conference, Reno, NV.

2023 Dunn, Rhian; Lynch, Paige; Zurek-Ost, Andrea. “Trends in Forensic Taphonomic Research Over Time Within the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.” Presentation at the 75th annual American Academy of Forensic Sciences conference, Orlando, FL.

2020 Messer, Diana; Ost, Andrea; Dirkmaat, Dennis. “A Retrospective Study of Forensic Fire Search and Recoveries at Mercyhurst University: 1983-2019.” Presentation at the 72nd annual American Academy of Forensic Sciences Conference, Anaheim, CA.

2018 Ost, Andrea. “Age-at-Death Estimation from the Auricular Surface of the Ilium: A Comparison of Two Methods.” Presentation at the 14th annual Regional Science Consortium Research Symposium, Erie, PA. Also presented at the 71st annual American Academy of Forensic Sciences conference, Baltimore, MD.

2017 Ost, Andrea; Dunn, Rhian. “Recovery Protocols for Taphonomic Interpretations.” Presentation at the 7th annual Forests, Lakes, and Grasslands (FLAG) conference, Higgins Lake, MI. Also presented at Mercyhurst University’s Research Symposium (Erie, PA).

2015 Ost, Andrea. “Effects of a Gendered Education on Native American Indian Children: A Study at the Michigan Indian Industrial Boarding School.” Presentation at the 114th annual American Anthropological Association conference, Denver, CO.

2014 Ost, Andrea; Harris (Wankmiller), Jane. “Population-Specific Sex Determination of Incomplete Skeletal Remains at Site G-439Jí.” Poster presented at Student Research and Creative Endeavors Exhibition, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI.

2013 Ost, Andrea; Goering, Jamie; Wilson, Emily; Wynne, Morgan. “Coffee Shop Culture: An Ethnographic Case Study of Kaya Coffee House.” Poster presented at Honors Creative Endeavors Exhibition, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI.

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