Associate Professor Carl Stephan

Associate Professor

School of Biomedical Sciences
Faculty of Medicine
+61 7 336 57485


Assoc. Prof. Stephan is an anatomist and forensic anthropologist with research interests in skeletal analysis and identification in the medicolegal setting. This includes craniofacial identification, radiographic comparison, trauma, decommingling and standards of practice. His research outputs currently exceed 90 total scientific publications, including 75 full-length articles (Google Scholar H-index = 30).

Carl is a Fellow of The American Academy of Forensic Sciences and immediate past President of the International Association of Craniofacial Identification. Carl has served as Special Issue Managing Guest Editor for Forensic Science International (2018 Latest Progress in Craniofacial Identification). He is Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Forensic Sciences and Associate Editor for Forensic Anthropology. Carl founded the SBMS Skeletal Collection and Skeletisation Program at UQ in late 2014, re-energising forensic osteology within the UQ School of Anatomy and more broadly within the School of Biomedical Sciences. Carl is head of the Laboratory for Human Craniofacial and Skeletal Identification (HuCS-ID Lab) at UQ, and is Chief Anatomist at The University of Queensland (UQ) School of Anatomy.

Carl's prior appointments include forensic anthropology analyst with the Iraq Mass Graves Investigation Team (USA Army Corps of Engineers on behalf of the USA Department of Justice) and ORISE researcher at the USA Department of Defence Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii. He routinely now serves in the role of visiting scientist to the USA Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency Scientific Directorate (DPAA) as an external consultant. At UQ and as Chief Anatomist and School of Anatomy manager, Carl works very closely with the SBMS Gross Anatomy Facility and in particular the GAF Manager, Wes Fisk, in all matters of anatomy teaching, research and governance.

Working in joint with the GAF Manager, Carl has cross adapted ISO17025 style practices and auditing procedures (per ASCLD/LAB and other ISO relevant training) to the UQ School of Anatomy space. These accreditation-style policies and procedures are further implemented and expanded in the HuCS-ID Lab, providing vital llearning experiences and skill sets for Honours and Higher Research Degree students wanting to pursue careers in forensic science. New data analytic, casework and research tools developed by the HuCS-ID Lab and in the statistical environment of R, are freely and routinely released for others to use at the website:

Research Impacts

AP Stephan's research contributions are recognized in the international forensic anthropology space, especially in craniofacial identification and radiographic comparison. These contributions result in, or assist, identifications around the globe and, in the USA, almost on a weekly basis.

A prime example of Assoc. Prof. Stephan's research impact is regarding Chest X-Ray Comparison (CXR) protocols established directly from his applied research, which have been officially reviewed, approved and authorized by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense Health Affairs, USA Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (2017) to assist the DPAA mission of identifying fallen US Soldiers. Every few weeks these methods contribute to new and additional identifications of US fallen soldiers from the Korean War and World War II (and notably in cases where DNA identification cannot be used):

Other casework impact includes skeletal analysis of individuals from mass graves in Iraq for the Regime Crimes Liaison Office (RCLO) via work for the Iraq Mass Graves Investigation Team (IMGT; 2005).

AP Stephan's methods have been instrumental in advancing the anatomical and scientific basis of craniofacial identification methods that, now combined with DNA approaches, dramatically improve this method's potential as an anatomically justified and scientifically valid tool offering vital utility in skeletal identifcation cases of the most challenging nature. In the craniofacial identification sphere and in part as a result of his own research, Carl maintains free publically available international data repository for anonymised facial soft tissue thicknesses that provides vital data for validation testing estimation models by other national or international researchers.

The establishment of the SBMS Skeletal Collection at UQ and within the donated body donor program of the School of Anatomy (SOPs approved by the University's Human Research Ethics Committee B; Approval # 2018002465), not only provides the highest possible quality of osteological training in Australia (authentic non-commingled osteology of full pristinely preserved human skeletons of contemporary Australians), but it is also enabling for future Australian forensic anthropology research.


  • Graduate Certificate in Education, The University of Queensland
  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Adelaide
  • Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honors), The University of Adelaide
  • Bachelor of Health Sciences, The University of Adelaide


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Book Chapter

Journal Article

Conference Publication

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision