Chelsey Juarez is a doctoral student in forensic anthropology at UC Santa Cruz. She is developing a database of soil profiles that would help identify the bodies of migrants who die crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. To develop her database, she has been analyzing teeth. Our teeth contain information that shows what kind of soil we grew up in, and thus, where we come from. Juarez has obtained these teeth through Northern California dental clinics that work with migrants. Borrowing from archaeology techniques, Juarez is creating soil profiles of the Mexican regions that most migrants from the country hail from (the states of Jalisco, Michoacan, Guanajuato, Veracruz and Oaxaca). This way, when authorities discover a body in the desert, they will be able to determine what region the person came from and, through the local Mexican media and consular personnel in that region, alert the public and hopefully reunite a family with their loved one’s remains. Juarez has a personal interest in seeing this method developed. Her father crossed the border 30 years ago. Though he survived, border deaths have been steadily increasing since the crackdown on the Tijuana/San Diego border following 9/11. In 2005, 463 bodies were discovered along the border.

“San Francisco Bay Debris and Plug-In Hybrids” (episode #102) which includes the short segment above, airs tonight on QUEST at 7:30pm on KQED 9, and KQED HD, Comcast 709. (full schedule)

You may also view the entire Forensic Identification segment online. Extra web-only footage is also available.

Gabriela Quirós is a Segment Producer for KQED-TV, and is the producer for this segment.

Discuss the "Forensic Identification" TV story 6 July,2011Gabriela Quirós


Gabriela Quirós

Gabriela Quirós is a video producer for KQED Science and the coordinating producer for Deep Look. She started her journalism career 25 years ago as a newspaper reporter in Costa Rica, where she grew up. She won two national reporting awards there for series on C-sections and organic agriculture, and developed a life-long interest in health reporting. She moved to the Bay Area in 1996 to study documentary filmmaking at the University of California-Berkeley, where she received master’s degrees in journalism and Latin American studies. She joined KQED as a TV producer when its science series QUEST started in 2006 and has covered everything from Alzheimer’s to bee die-offs to dark energy. She has won five regional Emmys and has shared awards from the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Society of Environmental Journalists. Independent from her work in KQED's science unit, she produced and directed the hour-long documentary Beautiful Sin, about the surprising story of how Costa Rica became the only country in the world to outlaw in vitro fertilization. The film aired nationally on public television stations in 2015.

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