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College of Arts and Sciences|Diamond Jubilee -- 75th Anniversary

Douglas Owsley

Bachelor of Science - 1973 - Zoology

     When Doug Owsley came to UW in the early '70s, his goal was a degree in zoology so he could then go into medicine or dentistry. Today, he's indeed a doctor, but most of his "patients" have been dead for years. Before completing his zoology degree, and largely due to the influence of Dr. George Gill, Owsley decided to switch to anthropology. "By the end of my junior year, I was still undecided about what field would be best and most satisfying. Fortunately, one of my course electives that year was an introduction to physical anthropology taught by Dr. Gill. I found the topic particularly exciting and the instructor enthusiastic and concerned about his students."

     Gill took Owsley under his wing, inviting him on field trips in Wyoming and Mexico, experiences which made a lasting impression on Owsley and gave him thoughts of graduate study in anthropology. At a meeting of physical anthropologists, Gill introduced him to his own mentor, chair of the University of Tennessee Department of Anthropology. Through this meeting, Owsley obtained a teaching assistantship and was able to complete his master's and then, in 1978, his PhD in anthropology. He has been on the faculty in anthropology at the University of Tennessee, and in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Louisiana State University. In 1987, he took a position as associate curator with the Department of Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute, in Washington, D.C. Today he is curator at that museum, where his focus is the investigation of human bone, both ancient (particularly the plains Indians) and modern. He is a sought-after lecturer in his field, and assists law enforcement agencies in identifying human remains and in establishing cause of death.

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Diamond Jubilee Outstanding Alumnus

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