Mullins Prize 2023: Lisette Jong

The Mullins Committee is pleased to announce that this year’s prize is awarded to Lisette Jong for the paper On the persistence of race: Unique skulls and average tissue depths in the practice of forensic craniofacial depiction in Social Studies of Science. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Europe, the United States and Australia, Jong presents a compelling and complex analysis the creation of facial depictions based on the skulls of unknown deceased individuals. The paper highlights how the skull, as a socio-material object, reveals the persistence of race in forensic anthropology. It makes the case that morphological methods of ancestry estimation rely on practices that historical marked physical anthropology as a racial science (Jong 2022, 18). Jong’s paper engages topical and urgent issues concerning the relation between race and data practices. Through its close engagement with scientific and forensic practices, it moreover illustrates how scholarship beyond the social sciences can benefit from STS methodologies. 

Nicholas C. Mullins Award Committee 2023 : Lucy van de Wiel (Chair). Barkha Kagliwal, Pouya Sepehr 

Acceptance statement:

I feel very honored to receive the 4S Nicholas C. Mullins Award 2023 for my article ‘On the persistence of race: Unique skulls and average tissue depths in the practice of forensic craniofacial depiction’ in Social Studies of Science. This article forms the core of my dissertation and therefore this recognition is particularly meaningful to me. I want to thank my supervisors Amade M’charek and Endre Danyi for their generous support and the entire RaceFaceID team for our ongoing conversations and collaborations. The thoughtful comments of the peer-reviewers and SSS editor Sergio Sismondo were very valuable to get the article in its final shape. Importantly, I could not have done the work without the researchers and practitioners in the field of craniofacial identification that I encountered during my research. I’m very grateful to all whom allowed me to ask questions and learn. The persistence of race is a matter of concern not unique to the field of forensics and I hope my work is helpful to scholars working on this issue in a wide range of scientific practices.


Lisette Jong is a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Amsterdam. In her PhD research she takes the making of facial depictions based on the skulls of unknown deceased individuals as a starting point to address the persistence of race in forensic anthropology. The work is part of the project ‘Race Matter: On the Absent Presence of Race in Forensic Identification’ funded by the European Research Council and led by prof. dr. Amade M’charek. Lisette is currently employed as a researcher in the project ‘Pressing Matter: Ownership, Value and the Question of Colonial Heritage in Museums’ funded by the Dutch National Science Agenda (NWO). Her research investigates non-human primate remains that arrived in natural history museums and university collections in the Netherlands through colonial networks and focuses on historical and present-day concerns around extinction and human-animal boundaries in scientific and museum practices. Next to her academic work Lisette is a semi-professional roller skater, board member of a patient organization and part of the Amsterdam queer community.