KSU professor’s dual career shines light on forensics field

Photo courtesy of Kent State University.

Photo courtesy of Kent State University.

Aaron Corpora

From traveling the world to helping solve crimes, Linda Spurlock has had quite the resume.

Not only does she teach courses in biological anthropology, forensic anthropology and archaeology — a career that has taken her around the world — Spurlock also works for the Cuyahoga County and Summit County coroner’s offices as a forensic artist, doing police sketching and sculpture work.

“They’ll call me up if they really have no idea who the person might be, and they need a sketch or a sculpture to help narrow down the possibilities,” the assistant anthropology professor said.

Spurlock said along with a book of sketches, she also enjoys doing sculptures, which require about 5 pounds of clay on a mounted model head.

Spurlock’s work has allowed her to take a journey to Israel during summer 2013, where she and a team of Case Western Reserve University professors and others from schools around the northeast Ohio area did some digging at Manot Cave in Western Galilee. The cave was famous for producing an interesting skull in 2008.

“The skull is quite ancient, and it’s from that time period where it could either be Neanderthal or a modern human,” Spurlock said.

Spurlock’s resume has allowed her to continue working where she enjoys the most — in the classroom.

She said she hopes to introduce some analytical forensic courses at Kent State next spring. Her positive attitude and energy bring a contagious enthusiasm to the rest of the anthropology department.

“She just brings a burst of energy every day that is easy for others to feed off,” said Anthony Tosi, an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. “With all of her excellent skills and advanced expertise in human evolution, she really is a blessing to have in the department.”

Her effect reaches her students and her colleagues as well.

Andrew Kramer, a graduate appointee in anthropology, is a student of Spurlock’s and is currently working on his master’s degree.

“She is the entire reason I came here,” Kramer said. “I took my undergraduates at Cleveland State and had her as a substitute teacher. She’s extremely good with students, and she’s always pushing her students to think farther.”

Contact Aaron Corpora at [email protected].