Prof Ericka L'Abbé

[email protected]

Room 5-9, Tswelopele, Prinshof campus


Prof EN L’Abbé is a Professor of Physical Anthropology in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Pretoria. She is board certified with the American Board of Forensic Anthropology (D-ABFA, 84) and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. She actively manages a forensic anthropology laboratory in FARC, supervises postgraduate anthropology research, teaches undergraduate (human osteology, human evolution), and is involved in forensic anthropology casework. The centre receives between 60 and 90 cases of unidentified persons per year from forensic pathologists and the South African Police Service.

Every year, in Gauteng alone, approximately 1200 bodies are incinerated without a known identity, many of whom may be rural migrant labourers from other provinces and/or illegal immigrants. As many rural migrants are unlikely to access dental care or to return to a hospital for follow-up treatment, the task of identification of an unknown person discovered in the veldt in Gauteng is difficult, and, at times, impossible. The current situation of unidentified persons in urban areas requires research into human variation of South Africans groups, with the intention of creating accurate and reliable osteobiobgraphic profiles from skeletal remains. A biological profile, with assistance from the SAPS, provides basic information to family members who are seeking their missing relative; in doing so, other aspects of formulating a positive identification, namely antemortem dental records, fingerprints and DNA can be performed. Her research focus is on the estimation of ancestry, sex, juvenile age and bone trauma. Her current h-index is 18. From 2003 to present, she has published a total of 44 articles and book chapters, with approximately 800 citations.

Recent publications

- Author Clarisa Sutherland

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