Susan Hayes photoDr Susan Hayes

PhD (Facial Anthropology) Anatomy and Human Biology, University of Western Australia, MFA (Sculpture), Art and Design, Monash University, BA (Hons) Humanities, Murdoch University

Phone:   +61 2 4221 3721
Room:    B41.264 

William Tyrrell


It's been three years and 23 days since William Tyrrell went missing

Dr Susan Hayes, Facial Anthropologist profiled on 7 News Sydney  

  • Honorary Senior Research Fellow

Professional Profile
  • Qualifications: PhD (Facial Anthropology) Anatomy and Human Biology, University of Western Australia, MFA (Sculpture), Art and Design, Monash University, BA (Hons) Humanities, Murdoch University                                                                                                            
  • Facial Approximation: University of Melbourne (3D), University of Dundee (2D) 

Key Research Interests

Evidence-based facial approximation of anatomically modern humans (circa 160,000 to present day)

  • Modern human craniofacial variation and identification
  • Geometric morphometric analysis of the head and face
  • Police witness composite images
  • Face depiction and recognisability 

 Susan Hayes Facial 4   Susan Hayes Facial 5  

Facial Approximation of Aunty (2011) 

Susan Hayes Facial 8

Unidentified remains, Belanglo State Forest (2010)

Facial Approximation

As an applied researcher in evidence-based facial approximation (sometimes referred to as facial reconstruction) I work with the skeletal remains of modern humans to approximate their facial appearance. Although I started in the forensic application of facial approximation, my research focus has been predominantly within an archaeological context, including the Lapita people excavated from Vanuatu (3000BP), early Maori from New Zealand (600BP) and an individual of the Huarpe people in Argentina (500BP). Through CAS I am, amongst other projects, exploring the applicability of these techniques to archaic hominins, such as Homo floresiensis (95000-17000BP). More recent work (with regards to time since death) has included medico-pathological individuals on display at the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh (100BP) and in collaboration with Sydney Homicide, unidentified remains found in Belanglo State Forest, New South Wales (2-10BP).

Susan Hayes Facial 1     Susan Hayes Facial 2      Susan Hayes Facial 3               

        2D Facial approximation (2007)                    Computergraphic facial approximation (2012)

Facial Anthropometry

My research interests that relate to the skills and understandings involved in a facial approximation include how adult people’s faces and their features vary, how facial shapes are related to recognisability and identification, what changes to the face due to various states such as emotion, sleep, injury and death, and how the techniques of depiction (including police witness composites, photography and portraiture) affect how a face is both represented and understood.

 Susan Hayes Facial 7            Susan Hayes Morphometrics

Facial landmarks and geometric morphometrics to identify individual facial variation (2009 - present)

Facial Anatomy

In a facial approximation facial muscles serve primarily to ‘flesh out the face’, many representations have expressive functions which are related to our evolutionary survival. Interestingly, most images of archaic hominins and some representations of modern humans from our pre-history are intentionally extremely expressive. Understanding how to manufacture these emotional displays relates to the morphology of the skull, and of course, individual differences in these structures.

Susan Hayes Facial 6

The structure, function and sculptural shape of the depressor anguli oris (from 3D Facial Approximation: An Introductory Lab Manual, 2012)

Representative Publications
  • Hayes, S. & Tullberg, C. 2012. Police Witness Identification Images: A geometric morphometric analysis. Journal Forensic Sciences 57: 1487-1494.
  • Hayes, S. 2011. A man from San Juan: Facial approximation within Anthropology (Un hombre de San Juan: Aproximación facial dentro de la antropología). Revista Argentina de Antropologia Biologica 13:71-81.
  • Hayes, S., Buckley, H., Bradley, R., Milne, N. & Dennison, J. 2011. Approximating ‘Aunty’: A question of likeness. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 19: 306-321.
  • Hayes, S. & Milne, N. 2011 What’s wrong with this picture? An experiment in quantifying accuracy in 2D portrait drawing, Journal of Visual Communication 10: 149-174.
  • Hayes, S., Valentin, F., Buckley, H., Spriggs, M. & Bedford, S. 2009. Faces of the Teouma Lapita: Art, accuracy and facial approximation. Leonardo 42: 284-285.
  • Hayes, S., Taylor, R. & Paterson, A. 2005. Forensic facial approximation: an overview of current methods used at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine/Victoria Police Criminal Identification Squad. Journal of Forensic OdontoStomatology  23: 45-50. 

Research Projects

I am currently finalising three research papers in the areas of forensic facial approximation (with NSW Police), the impact of head pose on facial shapes (continuing on from a research project with the Victoria Police), and the effect of memory on familiar faces (with WA Police). Planned projects include:

·  Establishing an orthogonal frontal/lateral photographic database of adult human facial variation

·  Examining the existing body of facial approximations of LB1 (The Hobbit), and the use of modern techniques with non-moderns, working with the Liang Bua team

·  Continuing to develop hands-on, intensive laboratories building up the facial anatomy used within a facial approximation over a replica skull (2D and 3D) for various groups of participants across diverse disciplines and fields. To date these have included: artists, anatomists, anthropologists, animators, archaeologists, biologists, dentists, forensic artists and scientists, primary, secondary and tertiary teachers and students, and members of the general public

·  Continuing to engage in popular science, including delivering public talks in the area of facial approximation

Representative Publications

Susan Hayes Lab Manual 2



Hayes, S (2012) 3D Facial Approximation: An Introductory Lab Manual AME1.0. UniPrint. ISBN 978-0-9872066-1-9





Susan Hayes Lab Manual 1



Hayes, S (2011) Introduction to Facial Approximation 2D Lab Manual AMV1.0. UniPrint. ISBN 978-0-9872066-0-2

Last reviewed: 20 November, 2017