Mount St. Joseph University

Mount professor’s latest science book for teens wins prestigious award

Academics, Biology, Press Releases


File Under: biology, elizabeth murray, forensic anthropology

Beth Murray head shot

Beth Murray, Ph.D., professor of biology at the College of Mount St. Joseph and internationally-known forensic anthropologist, recently wrote her second science book for teens, “Forensic Identification: Putting a Name and Face on Death,” (Twenty-First Century Books, 2012) which was selected by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) as one of their Outstanding Science Trade Books K-12: 2013.

Murray’s book is geared for students in grades 7-12 and uses a case-based approach for readers to understand forensics. Each chapter opens with two case studies, then later discusses the specific steps taken by specialists to show how each case was solved.

“The examples are based largely on actual cases I worked on,” Murray said. “I sneak the science in there by telling readers about different ways victims are identified in forensic settings.”

Murray, whose fascination for science was fostered by reading books about science when she was young, said middle school is the prime age to capture students’ interest in science, a foundation that is crucial to doing well in science in college. 

“The students today, especially in those important middle school years before high school, are in the most formative years to developing a love and understanding of science,” said Murray.  “I hope that by writing more books geared toward middle school students, I can help more kids to develop a passion for science, and that just might better prepare them for future science studies at the college level.  A good, strong background in a science education can lead to many different career paths.”

Murray has been a forensic anthropologist since 1986 and has consulted with local and national law enforcement departments, as well as the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), to help identify human remains and resolve missing person cases.

“Identifying a body gives the person back his or her name,” Murray said. “In a murder case, it brings investigators one stop closer to the killer.”

“Forensic Identification,” as well as Murray’s first science trade book, “Death: Corpses, Cadavers, and Other Grave Matters” (Twenty-First Century Books, 2010), which was named one of the top ten young adult science books in the summer of 2011 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, are available for purchase through the publisher’s website at, through or in a local bookstore.

The College of Mount St. Joseph is an undergraduate and graduate Catholic college that provides an interdisciplinary liberal arts and professional curriculum emphasizing values, service and social responsibility.