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Professor Turi King

The discovery and identification of the remains of King Richard III in a car park in Leicester was one of the most ambitious archaeological projects ever attempted.

Professor Turi King, Reader in Genetics and Archaeology and Professor of Public Engagement is bridging the gap between genetics and archaeology.

Motivated to understand the ways genetics works together with archaeology, anthropology, forensics and history, Turi’s research uses DNA analysis to provide a window to the past.

Her work leading the DNA analysis of Richard III has been described as “cracking one of the biggest forensic DNA cases in history” (The Globe and Mail), and not only confirmed that the remains were those of the last Plantagenet King, they also revealed clues about what he would have looked like - such as his eye and hair colour.

And it’s not just British royalty that Turi has shone a spotlight on. Turi has joined the Jamestown Rediscovery project team and is now working to identify remains believed to be those of a man ‘who shaped early America’.

The team is excavating the site of the 1617 church in Jamestown, Virginia – where the first permanent British colony settled in America. She is seeking to identify remains which are thought to belong to Sir George Yeardley, the colonial governor who oversaw the creation of, and presided over, the first representative government in the western hemisphere.

Just as for the King Richard III project, Turi has been extracting DNA from the remains to match with living relatives in an attempt to identify them as belonging to one of the founding fathers of American democracy.

Perhaps the best known use of ancient DNA is to combine it with other evidence to identify individuals. What we do with DNA from the dead is use it as a window to events from the past.

Professor Turi King

Key milestones

2018 Winner of the JBS Haldane Lecture by the Genetics Society

2018 Winner of the Joukowsky Lecture Series by the Archaeological Institute of America

2017 Winner of the East Midlands Women’s Award for Outstanding Woman in STEM

2017 Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London

2017 Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology

2017 Fellow of the Higher Education Authority

2016 Winner of the University of Leicester President’s Award

2016 Honorary Fellow of the British Science Association

2016 Reader in Genetics and Archaeology, University of Leicester

2015 Named as one of the University of Leicester’s 12 Most Inspirational Women

2014 Winner of the University of Leicester’s Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award

2012 Lecturer in Genetics and Archaeology, University of Leicester

2008 Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Leicester

2008 PhD Prize, School of Biological Sciences, University of Leicester

2008 PhD selected for Doctoral Inaugural Lecture Series, University of Leicester

2008 PhD awarded, University of Leicester

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