Dr Rebecca Griffin

Honorary Associate
Anatomy & Histology, School of Medical Sciences

Telephone 86278154

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Biographical details

Dr Rebecca Griffin is an Honorary Associate in the Discipline of Anatomy and Histology. She is a dental anthropologist with particular interest in oral health and forensic anthropology. Dr Griffin completed her PhD in the BioArCh research group at the University of York, where she developed a new approach to estimating age-at-death using amino acid racemization of dental enamel proteins. She has a strong background in the morphological and biochemical study of modern and archaeological dental remains, and her research has had a significant impact on her field, as recognised by its publication in leading journals including American Journal of Physical Anthropology, American Journal of Archaeology and Forensic Science International.

Research interests

Dr Griffin’s research investigates health and longevity in modern and archaeological populations through study of the human dentition. One key focus of her work is developing a new, biomolecular approach for estimating the age at death of forensic and archaeological remains. Determining age-at-death from human skeletal remains is an important task in forensic practice, as it can provide key information necessary to identify the deceased. For archaeological remains, it can offer valuable insights into the health and longevity of past populations. However, at present scientists are limited in their ability to estimate age-at-death from the skeleton, due to the poor accuracy of existing techniques. Dr Griffin’s research aims to develop a new method for estimating the age-at-death of human remains, which has the potential to provide more accurate age estimates than existing techniques. Her research has adapted a biochemical method for forensic age estimation that is usually applied to tooth dentine, amino acid racemization (AAR), for use on tooth enamel, which is often better preserved in archaeological contexts. This innovative approach has an accuracy and precision in contemporary populations similar to that of current methods using tooth dentine, but is substantially less destructive, giving it strong potential for application in forensic anthropology. A current pilot study funded by the NWG Macintosh Memorial Fund aims to adapt this promising new method so it can be used in remains which have been buried for longer periods of time, and to explore its potential to estimate both age and time since death simultaneously.

Dr Griffin’s other main research interest lies in understanding the causes of oral health within populations. Her research to date has largely focussed on the impact of social and environmental conditions on oral health in archaeological populations, particularly the influence of social status and inequality on the likelihood of a person experiencing poor dental health.Her research on late Roman Britain was the first to bring together osteoarchaeological data on health from a wide range of individual sites within Roman Britain with information on the archaeological material from each cemetery, to identify broader patterns that might reflect the causes of health in this period. This research has contradicted current theories about the impact of urban living on health at this time, showing that in Roman Britain health was in fact better in urban populations than in those in rural areas.Her current research aims to build upon this work through exploring how changes in the social context of archaeological sites over time impact upon the oral health of their population.

Awards and honours

2003-2006: Overseas Research Students Awards Scheme Scholarship, UK Government

2006: Jane Moore Prize for most outstanding student presentation, BABAO Annual Conference

2004: Prize for outstanding student presentation, BABAO Annual Conference

2001: Australasian Society for Human Biology Postgraduate Award

In the media

Selected publications

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Journals

  • Pitts, M., Griffin, R. (2012). Exploring Health and Social Well-Being in Late Roman Britain: An Intercemetery Approach. American Journal of Archaeology, 116(2), 253-276. [More Information]
  • Griffin, R., Pitts, M., Smith, R., Brook, A. (2011). Inequality at late Roman baldock, UK: The impact of social factors on health and diet. Journal of Anthropological Research, 67(4), 533-556.
  • Griffin, R., Penkman, K., Moody, H., Collins, M. (2010). The impact of random natural variability on aspartic acid racemization ratios in enamel from different types of human teeth. Forensic Science International, 200(1-3), 148-152. [More Information]
  • Griffin, R., Chamberlain, A., Hotz, G., Penkman, K., Collins, M. (2009). Age estimation of archaeological remains using amino acid racemization in dental enamel: A comparison of morphological, biochemical, and known ages-at-death. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 140(2), 244-252. [More Information]
  • Griffin, R., Donlon, D. (2009). Patterns in dental enamel hypoplasia by sex and age at death in two archaeological populations. Archives of Oral Biology, 54s(Supp 1), S93-S100. [More Information]
  • Parkin, N., Elcock, C., Smith, R., Griffin, R., Brook, A. (2009). The aetiology of hypodontia: the prevalence, severity and location of hypodontia within families. Archives of Oral Biology, 54(supp1), S52-S56. [More Information]
  • Brook, A., Griffin, R., Smith, R., Townsend, G., Kaur, G., Davis, G., Fearne, J. (2009). Tooth size patterns in patients with hypodontia and supernumerary teeth. Archives of Oral Biology, 54(Suppl1), S63-S70. [More Information]
  • Brook, A., Griffin, R., Townsend, G., Levisianos, Y., Russell, J., Smith, R. (2009). Variability and patterning in permanent tooth size of four human ethnic groups. Archives of Oral Biology, 54(Suppl1), S79-S85. [More Information]
  • Griffin, R., Moody, H., Penkman, K., Fagan, M., Curtis, N., Collins, M. (2008). A new approach to amino acid racemization in enamel: testing of a less destructive sampling methodology. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 53(4), 910-916. [More Information]
  • Griffin, R., Moody, H., Penkman, K., Collins, M. (2008). The application of amino acid racemization in the acid soluble fraction of enamel to the estimation of the age of human teeth. Forensic Science International, 175(1), 11-16. [More Information]
  • Griffin, R., Donlon, D. (2007). Dental enamel hypoplasias and health changes in the middle bronze age - Early iron age transition at Pella in Jordan. HOMO: Journal of comparative human biology, 58(3), 211-220. [More Information]

Conferences

  • Griffin, R., Donlon, D. (2003). Enamel hypoplasia: a reliable assay for health in past populations? ASHB, : Coin/Acoft.

2012

  • Pitts, M., Griffin, R. (2012). Exploring Health and Social Well-Being in Late Roman Britain: An Intercemetery Approach. American Journal of Archaeology, 116(2), 253-276. [More Information]

2011

  • Griffin, R., Pitts, M., Smith, R., Brook, A. (2011). Inequality at late Roman baldock, UK: The impact of social factors on health and diet. Journal of Anthropological Research, 67(4), 533-556.

2010

  • Griffin, R., Penkman, K., Moody, H., Collins, M. (2010). The impact of random natural variability on aspartic acid racemization ratios in enamel from different types of human teeth. Forensic Science International, 200(1-3), 148-152. [More Information]

2009

  • Griffin, R., Chamberlain, A., Hotz, G., Penkman, K., Collins, M. (2009). Age estimation of archaeological remains using amino acid racemization in dental enamel: A comparison of morphological, biochemical, and known ages-at-death. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 140(2), 244-252. [More Information]
  • Griffin, R., Donlon, D. (2009). Patterns in dental enamel hypoplasia by sex and age at death in two archaeological populations. Archives of Oral Biology, 54s(Supp 1), S93-S100. [More Information]
  • Parkin, N., Elcock, C., Smith, R., Griffin, R., Brook, A. (2009). The aetiology of hypodontia: the prevalence, severity and location of hypodontia within families. Archives of Oral Biology, 54(supp1), S52-S56. [More Information]
  • Brook, A., Griffin, R., Smith, R., Townsend, G., Kaur, G., Davis, G., Fearne, J. (2009). Tooth size patterns in patients with hypodontia and supernumerary teeth. Archives of Oral Biology, 54(Suppl1), S63-S70. [More Information]
  • Brook, A., Griffin, R., Townsend, G., Levisianos, Y., Russell, J., Smith, R. (2009). Variability and patterning in permanent tooth size of four human ethnic groups. Archives of Oral Biology, 54(Suppl1), S79-S85. [More Information]

2008

  • Griffin, R., Moody, H., Penkman, K., Fagan, M., Curtis, N., Collins, M. (2008). A new approach to amino acid racemization in enamel: testing of a less destructive sampling methodology. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 53(4), 910-916. [More Information]
  • Griffin, R., Moody, H., Penkman, K., Collins, M. (2008). The application of amino acid racemization in the acid soluble fraction of enamel to the estimation of the age of human teeth. Forensic Science International, 175(1), 11-16. [More Information]

2007

  • Griffin, R., Donlon, D. (2007). Dental enamel hypoplasias and health changes in the middle bronze age - Early iron age transition at Pella in Jordan. HOMO: Journal of comparative human biology, 58(3), 211-220. [More Information]

2003

  • Griffin, R., Donlon, D. (2003). Enamel hypoplasia: a reliable assay for health in past populations? ASHB, : Coin/Acoft.

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