Patrick Randolph-Quinney


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Forensic anthropology; forensic archaeology; forensic taphonomy and thanatology; 3D imaging and visualisation; skeletal trauma; skeletal disease evolution; Geometric Morphometric Methods (GMM) of shape analysis; computed tomographic methods in skeletal biology; African prehistory (Earlier and Middle Stone Ages).

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Personal profile


Dr Patrick Randolph-Quinney is a Biological and Forensic Anthropologist from Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

He is Group Leader of Northumbria University's Forensic Science Research Group (

His broad interests concern the application of multi‐disciplinary forensic taphonomy and thanology into both current medico‐legal practice and the Evolutionary Anthropology of the deep past. He has a background in palaeoanthropology and archaeology, and spent much of his early academic life working on the biological and cultural evolution of the genus Homo during the Middle Pleistocene, a critical period that precedes the evolution of our own species and the advent of modern behaviours. In recent years he has been working in the field of forensic anthropology and human identification. He has extensive casework experience in both forensic anthropology and archaeology in the UK and sub‐Saharan Africa, including archaeology of fatal fires, and as a member of the Mission Chambres Africaines Extraordinaires investigating human rights abuses in the Republic of Chad. He was co‐coordinator of the African School for Forensic Science and Human Rights in conjunction with the Argentine Forensic Team (EAAF).

Research interests

Patrick's research focusses on taphonomy and thanatology in forensic, archaeological and palaeontological  contexts, with the aim of understanding mortuary behaviours, peri and post-mortem alteration to the body, and site formational processes. His work integrates decomposition modelling with multi-scalar approaches to how body deposition sites (whether intentional or natural) function and change through time - integrating bone taphonomy, sedimentology and geomorphology, biotic and abiotic factors to understand the persistence and transfer of taphonomic evidence through time. 

He has research interests across the field of forensic taphonomy including human and animal decomposition processes, osseous taphonomy, differentiation of sub‐aerial and sub‐surface processes, trauma analysis, ichnotraces, and the application of digital methods in the analysis of spatial taphonomy and the decomposition process. In particular he is using innovative approaches using 3D and 4D space capture and modelling (from laser, structured light scanning and photogrammetry), and remote sensing and GIS, to understand site formational processes from object to landscape level. This includes research which aims to improve methods of environmental detection of buried deposits using multi-proxy and remote sensing data from drones and UAV. 

He has an interest in the field of wildlife and environmental crime and the application of forensic methods to combat it. 

He has also continued research into the human evolutionary process, working at the sites of Malapa and Rising Star in South Africa. His role in the Rising Star project has been to apply skillsets derived from forensic casework (having worked on homicides, fatal fires and mass graves from war crimes) to the deep past; using the skills from modern forensic taphonomy to understand the context, decompositional environment and mortuary behaviours of Homo naledi. His research also encompasses the effects of disease and trauma on the skeleton, and he recently led multi-disciplinary research teams investigating the earliest evidence for neoplastic disease (both tumours and cancers) in the hominin fossil record.

He is an experienced field worker and conducts fieldwork in Middle Pleistocene palaeo-archaeological deposits in the Limpopo region of South Africa, and is Co-Director of the Makapansgat Archaeological Landscape Project.

He is currently supervising a number of PhD projects looking at differing aspects of the forensic and palaeosciences.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

anthropology, PhD, University of Liverpool

… → 8 Jul 2004

Award Date: 8 Jul 2004

Archeology, BSc (Hons), University of Bradford

Award Date: 15 Jun 1993

External positions

Centre for the Exploration of the Deep Human Journey, University of the Witwatersrand

9 Apr 2021 → …

Department of Human Anatomy and Physiology, University of Johannesburg

May 2019 → …


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