Leading forensic scientist, Professor Dame Sue Black has been appointed President of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (RAI) - the world's longest-established scholarly association dedicated to the promotion of the study of humankind.

Professor Black, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement at Lancaster University said she was ‘honoured and delighted.’

“This august professional body has been at the forefront of promoting teaching, research and engagement in anthropology and is recognised globally for its academic acumen.  There are exciting times ahead for the Institute and I look forward very much indeed to working with the Institute as we move forward into the next phase.”

The Institute has had an unbroken history of 64 consecutive Presidents, the first being Lord Avebury in 1871. Professor Black is the fourth woman to hold the role and the first to come from the forensic component of anthropology.

The Director of the Royal Anthropological Institute David Shankland said: “It is a great privilege to welcome such a distinguished and dynamic academic as our new President.”

“Professor Dame Sue Black is the perfect match for us at a time when we are looking to expand the Institute’s public engagement and level of activity.”

As an academic, Sue Black  is best known as an anatomist and a forensic anthropologist.  She was the lead forensic anthropologist for the UK response to investigation of the war crimes in Kosovo and has also served in Sierra Leone, Grenada, Iraq in Thailand following the Asian tsunami.

She has been awarded two police commendations for her work in helping to secure convictions against perpetrators of child sexual abuse. Sue was awarded an OBE in 2001 for her work in war crimes investigations in Kosovo and in 2016 she was awarded a DBE for her services to education and forensic anthropology.

She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Society of Biology and she is the lifetime professor of Anatomy for the Royal Scottish Academy. 

The RAI is a non-profit-making registered charity and is entirely independent, with a Director and a small staff accountable to the Council, which in turn is elected annually from the Fellowship. It has a Royal Patron in the person of HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG, GCVO.

Professor Dame Sue Black. Photo © Jill Jennings.
Professor Dame Sue Black. Photo © Jill Jennings.