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Areas of Interest

Bioarchaeology, taphonomy, skeletal indicators of health and stress, forensic anthropology, stable isotope analysis, repatriation, biostatistics


2015    B.S. in Anthropology with Honors, Central Michigan University

2018    M.S. in Anthropology, Concentration in Forensic and Biological Anthropology, Mercyhurst University


Professional Background

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 received my B.S. in Anthropology with Honors from Central Michigan University. During my undergraduate career, I interned with two National Museums (those of Ireland and Costa Rica), working with artifacts and human remains from a variety of contexts.

In 2018, I graduated from Mercyhurst University with my M.S. in Anthropology (concentration in Forensic and Biological Anthropology). My master’s thesis examined the correlation between traits of the pelvis and age-at-death estimates. Following graduation, I was hired at Mercyhurst as an instructor for the 2018-2019 academic year, where I taught undergraduate courses in the Applied Forensic Sciences and Anthropology/Archaeology curricula. I also oversaw curation of the Donated Human and Zooarchaeological Collections at Mercyhurst and acted as the Body Donation Program Coordinator. 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. Additionally, I have spent the last seven field seasons excavating and analyzing remains from archaeological sites in the Basque Country (northern Spain).


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.


Recent Presentations

Herring, Laura; Mills, Allie; Webb, Thomas; Mordant, Angie; Barker, Natalie; Zurek-Ost, Andrea; and Bonthorne, Emma. 2024. “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.

Zurek-Ost, Andrea and Bonthorne, Emma. 2023. “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.

Dunn, Rhian; Lynch, Paige; and Zurek-Ost, Andrea. 2023. “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.

Messer, Diana; Ost, Andrea; and Dirkmaat, Dennis. 2020. “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.

Ost, Andrea. 2018. “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.

Ost, Andrea and Dunn, Rhian. 2017. “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).

Ost, Andrea. 2015. “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.

Ost, Andrea and Harris (Wankmiller), Jane. 2014. “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.