Clea Koff is a forensic anthropologist and author. She is also the daughter of two documentary film makers who focused on human rights. Ms. Koff’s mother was Tanzanian and her father was American. She spent most of her childhood in Somalia and the United States. Ms. Koff earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Stanford University. Ms. Koff got her master’s degree in 1999 from the University of Nebraska. While she was a master’s student at the University of Arizona in their graduate forensic anthropology program, she trained with forensic anthropologist Dr. Walt Birkby.
In 1996 when Ms. Koff was a graduate student, she was one of the members of the first international forensics team to go to Rwanda. This team was put together by the United Nations to investigate evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Her job in Rwanda was to exhume bodies to find evidence of war crimes. After Rwanda and completing her master’s degree, Ms. Koff immediately went on missions to Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo in 2000. For these missions she was Deputy Chief Anthropologist of the UN International Criminal Tribunal Morgue.
In 2006, She was the Co-coordinator of the Anthropology Laboratory of the UN Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus and until 2012 she worked in Los Angles at the Missing Persons Identification Resource Center, which is the center that she founded to develop forensic profiles to help assist in the identification of unidentified bodies, and according to Ms. Koff’s biography, which was updated in 2013, the number of unidentified bodies being held by the offices of coroners across the U.S. is estimated to be 40,000.
Ms. Koff currently writes fiction. Her first mystery was called Freezing and was published in 2011. Before turning to fiction, Ms. Koff did write a memoir called Bone Woman. This was published in 2004 and was translated into eleven different languages and published in thirteen countries. Her memoir received numerous honors, including the Nancy France Human Rights Book Prize, and was called a top 20 science book by Discover Magazine.
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