Skip to main content
Career Profile

Murray Clayton

Forensic Anthropologist & Outreach Coordinator
University of Toronto Mississauga
Murray Clayton | Forensic Anthropologist
Murray Clayton | Forensic Anthropologist
Location Now
Education Pathway

Murray Clayton is a Forensic Anthropologist & Outreach Coordinator for the University of Toronto Mississauga.

About me

I was born/grew up in: I was born in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, but grew up in Oakville, Ontario, Canada

I now live in: Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

I completed my training/education at: I obtained my Honours Bachelor degree at McMaster University, and my Master of Science at the University of Toronto

What I do at work

Day to day, my job is never the same! I can spend a day recovering bodies in the field, or helping in an autopsy, or examining biological remains in the laboratory. At other times I can be found giving tours to prospective students of our science facilities. What ties them all together is a passion for contributing to society through analysis and scientific method.

For a forensic anthropologist, my job relies heavily on precise mathematical formula and equations to determine human identity (e.g., measurements and geometry of the skull). Some forensic anthropologists work closely with 3D scanning and printing technology to research new methods in assessment. I personally research elemental analysis of bone. This involves looking at how calcium and phosphorus ratios change as we grow older or using a Scanning Electron Microscope with an Energy Dispersive Xray (SEM-EDX). And of course, no assessment would be complete without statistical data to prove our results are accurate!

Ultimately, the police will rely on the expert assessment of a forensic anthropologist to answer important questions about a victim. A strong foundation in STEM allows us to be confident in our results, and also assures the community's confidence in us. I work with other forensic anthropologists both at crime scenes and in the lab. On a scene, it takes a whole team of people to retrieve human remains, to make sure they don't receive any further damage! We also work very closely with other emergency services, like police officers and the fire marshal. In the labs, we always work as part of a team, to make sure remains can be identified efficiently without sacrificing accuracy, but also to ensure our work can be double-checked for any errors.

My career path is

The path to my current career was definitely not a straight line. I started university for Fine Art. Then after many changes, I graduated with a degree in classical history. After working in an office job in marketing, I decided I wanted a more meaningful career. A former classmate invited me on an archaeological excavation, and I fell in love with anatomy, biology, and bones! I returned to school for anthropology, but found that through forensics, I can apply a field I enjoy to modern, important issues. During my Master's degree, I was taken into the field to assist in real casework of crimes ranging from homicide, suicide, arson, and unknown deaths.

I am motivated by

I am always motivated by the unique nature of my job- it is never repetitive! I love to see visitors get excited about science and explore our labs and workshops. I also enjoy the quiet solitude of analysis in the lab. I would have never imagined myself in a STEM field in high school. But what I didn't know was that my interests in creativity, communication and hands on learning were directly translatable to this field. And, most importantly, in this career I can give back to society in a meaningful way. For those reasons, I think this has become my perfect job!

How I affect peoples’ lives

The Chief Coroner of Ontario has a motto- "We speak for the dead to protect the living". This means that we try to ensure that every life is given value and meaning through our work. We try our best to prevent future crimes by examining previous ones. For me personally, knowing that I can bring closure to surviving families in any way is very important- the loss of a loved one may be a very bewildering and tragic experience, and we may ease some suffering through the respect and proper treatment of the deceased.

Outside of work I

Outside of work, I enjoy nature. I have recently been exploring all Canada has to offer in the outdoors. I also enjoy small social get-togethers  with friends - board game night, movies, anything where we can just hang out and have fun! I also find that when I need some quiet, alone time, that creating with LEGO has been a very therapeutic activity!

My advice to others

While there is a recommended path through schooling, never think that your choices close a door forever. I took many twists and turns, and I made it happen!

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • Drama
  • History
  • Music
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Liked being given specific instructions
  • Liked reading
  • Was really creative
  • Liked to design or build things
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Played video games
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do

Related Topics

Explore Career Profiles

  • Kim TallBear headshot

    Kim TallBear

    Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience and Society, Faculty of Native Studies

    I teach university and do research on science and technology from an Indigenous perspective.
  • Mahesh Rachamalla in his lab wearing white lab coat

    Mahesh Rachamalla (he/him)

    Graduate Student (Toxicology)

    My research will help find solutions for protecting aquatic species from the effects of heavy metals.
  • Dr. Molly Shoichet headshot

    Molly Shoichet (she/her)

    Professor and Research Team Lead

    I teach undergraduate students in engineering and I lead a research team in biomedical and chemical engineering.
  • Kaitlin Guitard working on site of an aquaculture setting.

    Kaitlin Guitard

    Water Quality Technician

    I monitor the sea water at salmon farms for harmful plankton and jellyfish.
  • Devon Hardy headshot

    Devon Hardy (she/her/elle)

    Program Director

    I run a non-profit program that supports environmental sustainability in the arts.
  • Mike Bryan on walkway over fish tank

    Mike Bryan (he/him)

    Hatchery Technician

    I work at a fish hatchery in the aquaculture industry.
  • Megan Coles headshot with blurred buildings and landscape in the background

    Megan Coles

    Pediatric Nurse

    I care for the inpatients admitted to the medical-surgical units at my local children's hospital.
  • Nicole Redvers headshot

    Nicole Redvers (she/her)

    Associate Professor and Director of Planetary Health

    I carry out Indigenous health research and support Indigenous communities and organizations in their health research needs.
  • Gabriel Hould Gosselin headshot take outside in arctic setting

    Gabriel Hould Gosselin

    Research Associate

    I support teams that collect data on the melting permafrost layer in the arctic.
  • Rhiannon Cooper headshot taken outside with trees and plans in the background

    Rhiannon Cooper


    I monitor the patterns and trends of infectious diseases across the province.
  • Khashayar Farzam headshot

    Khashayar Farzam (he/him)

    Emergency Medicine Doctor

    As an ER doctor, I take care of any patient who comes through the hospital door for literally anything!
  • Peter Vlasveld headshot

    Peter Vlasveld

    Intermediate Software Developer

    I write backend code for web apps that help in Cyclica's drug discovery efforts.
  • Andrea Brack recycling at work

    Andrea Brack

    Environmental and Regulatory Team Coordinator

    I lead a team of environmental professionals at a large petrochemical manufacturing facility.
  • Pamela Power photo taken outside in winter with trees in background

    Pamela Power (she/her)

    Water Resources Specialist

    I provide technical review of projects that may affect water resources to ensure your community’s rights and interests are being considered and protected.
  • Sara Knox headshot

    Sara Knox (she/her)

    Assistant Professor (biometeorology)

    I study ways to restore and protect ecosystems to help fight climate change.
  • Samantha Yammine

    Samantha Yammine (she/her)

    Science Communicator

    I create and share engaging science content on social media.
  • Corey Nislow headshot

    Corey Nislow (he/him)

    Professor and Genomics Research Chair

    I study how drugs work and how an individual’s genetic makeup can affect their response to drug treatment.
  • L. Creighton Avery looking at specimen using a microscope in her lab.

    L. Creighton Avery


    I examine human skeletal remains from archaeological sites to learn about their lives.
  • Yetong Dong headshot wearing lab coat

    Yetong Dong

    Research Assistant/Graduate Student

    I am studying to become a scientific researcher.
  • Portrait de Andrea Goldson-Barnaby

    Andrea Goldson-Barnaby

    Head of the Food division

    I teach and do research on the topics of Food Chemistry and Food Processing.