Dr Xanth Mallett
Dr Xanth Mallett Allan Reinikka ROK101116axanthe1

Is the Rocky region set to get it's very own body farm?

STUDYING corpses and solving murders gives Dr Xanthe Mallett "that warm fuzzy feeling” which she admits might be a little addictive.

The forensic scientist made the trip up to Rockhampton recently to speak about her career and the possibility of Central Queensland becoming home to a "body farm”.

Starting off as a student of Archaeology Dr Mallett loved studying dinosaurs but found her true passion was in the study of bone modules.

Soon after Dr Mallett turned her studies towards more of a human route so she could help work on modern cases with police in order to identify victims.

"I have worked on a lot of forensic cases where you get a result (having done your part of the case) you think is fair,” she said.

"That's a good feeling, when you believe someone to have been guilty of a crime and (I would never say I've solved any of them) but you do your little piece of the puzzle and that leads to a conviction and you know somebody else wont be hurt becuase the person who's perpetrated that crime is in prison.”

Dr Mallett said one case which would stick with her forever was one she worked on in 2013 for channel 10.

She was asked to help identify a young woman's body found in the Belanglo State Forrest.

"She was unidentified for years, had we had more information about how long she had been deceased I think that would of helped. Then in 2015 she was linked to the baby that was found in South Australia and that was really a revelation for me,” she said.

"Then she was identified so that was a nice feeling knowing that woman had been lost, unidentified, murdered for so long to know she was then named and returned to her family with her baby.

"They weren't reunited in life unfortunately but they were reunited in death, not a happy ending exactly but at least an ending and sometimes that's the best you can hope for.”

Taking a break from police cases, Dr Mallett's latest project is working on Australia's first body farm on the outskirts of Sydney, near the Blue Mountains.

"People call it a body farm but I slightly wince at that, that's how people colloquially know it but there are kind of negative connotations with that,” Dr Mallett said.

"Once you start saying Taphonomic research facility people get a bit tongue tired but it is fundamentally looking at how people decompose.”

The body farm is located in what Dr Mallett would classify as Australian bush land which is a very native environment.

"We've left it as natural as possible so we can get a clear picture as to how humans decompose and therefore how we identify them clearly once they're found in other environments in Australia from looking at the research we do there.

"What we're hoping is we start to study more of the people who have donated their remains to science, then we study them over time in different set ups, different seasons ect and then map that process to help us identify those people who have become lost in the Australian environment.”

Dr Mallett said there was also talk of establishing another body farm somewhere else in Australia with the Rockhampton area being on the cards due to the different environment.

Establishment of an animal decomposition research facility has been talked about as well and Dr Mallett hopes to see that up and running in Central Queensland bushland by 2018.

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