As unusual as it may sound, there is nothing that Hannah Golden would enjoy more than sitting for hours on end examining and cleaning human remains. The 27-year-old Austin, Texas native discovered this passion while studying for a bachelor’s degree in bioinformatics. At Baylor University, Hannah took her first forensic anthropology course.
On one fateful day while working in the lab, someone came by to tell her to wrap it up. She looked at the clock and was shocked that four hours had passed. That was when she realized she had a true fascination with the field, particularly in solving the mystery of unidentified bodies.
“These were people too; they’re not just bones. There must be some way to tell where these people are from, so their families can have closure.”
Wanting more than a skeleton of an education
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in bioinformatics from Baylor, Hannah enrolled in UF Online for a degree in Anthropology. As one of the few universities with active forensic anthropologists on staff, the University of Florida was uniquely positioned to help Hannah follow her passions.
Did you know?
The University of Florida is home to the C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory (CAPHIL), which is one of the few active human identification laboratories in the United States. As a unit within the UF Department of Anthropology, the CAPHIL provides consultations for medical examiners, law enforcement, and attorneys.
While Hannah acknowledges that sometimes it can feel a little hard to manage her time, she kept her goal in mind to stay on task—to turn her passion into a career with the help of UF Online.
“I want people to get the respect they deserve when they’re properly buried. Some remains are found in trash bags, and it really bothers me, so I want to do all this work, but I need a degree to do so.”
An online education that is more than bare bones
The flexibility of UF Online’s classes gave Hannah options when planning her schedule, but she still was able to enjoy the same learning experience on-campus students have. “I liked how some of the professors took the time to make the discussions engaging, where it wasn’t just like you were just posting something . . . they wanted us to engage with each other, so it allowed us to learn from one another as well.”
Furthermore, her online classes removed the burden of having to commute to a campus. This allowed Hannah to study remotely and work full-time as a systems analyst, while still learning more about the study of human bones and forensic anthropology.
Studying the past and planning for the future
After graduating, Hannah plans to get her master’s degree and Ph.D. She wants to study variation in skulls, specifically those of Hispanic populations. Currently, most of the measurement collections for forensic anthropology do not include significant Hispanic representation, so more research into this demographic is vital to assist in identifying people after their death.
Hannah’s work will help develop criteria to analyze individuals’ ancestries to determine an individual’s region of origin. This would verify which government entities to contact when trying to identify a set of remains
“I’m somebody who cares about this stuff and is willing to help people. And that’s what I’ve experienced with UF, that they really care and are willing to help. It means a lot to me.”
Discover the unknown with a degree in anthropology. UF Online’s anthropology major not only goes in-depth on this holistic field, but also teaches students skills in research, analytics, data management, critical thinking, and collaboration. Learn more about this online major by visiting our degree page .