Geneticist Turi King to Speak about Finding Remains of Richard III

April 16, 2014
Turi King

University of Leicester geneticist Turi King will discuss the Grey Friars Project, which located the long-missing remains of King Richard III, on Wednesday, April 30 at 4 p.m. in the Reading Room of the Renaissance Center, 650 East Pleasant St.

When the University of Leicester Archaeology Service undertook the Grey Friars project, it was thought that the chances of finding the remains of King Richard III were slim to none. Nevertheless, King, with her background both in archaeology and genetics, was approached in the very early stages with the question: if the skeletal remains of a “good candidate” to be Richard III were to be found, would she be interested in overseeing the DNA analysis?

King will speak about the Grey Friars project, from the early stages of planning the dig through to the excavation, and the results of the various strands of analysis carried out on the remains.

King read in anthropology and archaeology at Cambridge University, earning a B.A. before moving into genetics at the University of Leicester, where she received her MSc. All of her subsequent work has been interdisciplinary in nature, focusing on ways in which genetic research can advance and deepen historical understanding. As a Wellcome Trust Prize Ph.D. student in the department of genetics at Leicester, her work focused on the link between British surnames and the Y chromosome, combining molecular genetics with historical data. King's interdisciplinary work continued during her time as a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Research Associate, combining molecular genetics with history and archaeology in projects examining the genetic legacy of the Vikings in the north of England and in Ireland, the genetic history of the Roma in Britain, as well as further research on the link between surnames and genetics and its implications in the field of forensics. King was a co-applicant for the Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain project and remains a part-time research fellow there, allowing her to continue her work on the Vikings in the north of England. She currently is a lecturer in genetics and archaeology at the University of Leicester, and since 2011 has been the project geneticist with the Grey Friars Project

King’s lecture is made possible by with the support of the Five College Lecture Fund, the Mount Holyoke College Weissman Center for Leadership, the departments of history, biology, and medieval studies at Mount Holyoke College, the Five College Medieval Studies Seminar, the UMass department of English, the Smith College archaeology program, and the Renaissance Center.