Examining bones and conducting research alongside her professor has given fourth-year student Trinity Kirk a feel for what it’s like to be a forensic anthropologist.

Kirk works as a research assistant for the Anthropology Department. Through the JOBS program at St. Thomas, she’s been able to work with forensic anthropologist and STU Anthropology professor Moira McLaughlin to apply what she’s learned in class to real-world scenarios.  

“I love working with Professor McLaughlin,”said Kirk. “The job itself is great, because my overall objective was to apply what I was learning in real life.”

Kirk, who is pursuing a double major in Criminology and Psychology with a double minor in Forensic Anthropology and Irish Studies, said the experience has exceeded her expectations.

She said she’s enhanced her research skills and learned to properly sort animal bones for the anthropology lab’s collection of reference materials.

Kirk aspires to work with the justice system and said working with McLaughlin—who’s become a mentor to her—on real cases has provided meaningful insight into what that might be like.

In addition to McLaughlin’s extensive knowledge of Forensic Anthropology, she has a great deal of experience using her expertise to help the RCMP work through cases. Kirk said this is something she can see herself doing someday.

“I definitely want to work within the police force or in prisons,” she said. “Either way, being able to do this kind of research is a key component of the kind of jobs I see myself pursuing.”

McLaughlin said the JOBS program greatly benefits students like Kirk when it comes to seeing how they can apply their degree after graduation.

“Trinity has been able to gain research experience—and life experience in terms of actually seeing the nitty gritty of life as a forensic anthropologist,” McLaughlin said. “This has allowed her to better see what is possible for her after graduation.”