The Passing of Dr. Vicki Wedel, PhD

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Source: Alison Galloway, PhD, Anthropology Fellow

We are saddened to convey the news that Vicki Wedel, a Fellow in the Anthropology Section, died suddenly on May 15, 2021. She leaves behind her husband of almost 25 years, Matt, and a teenage son. Dr. Wedel was an Associate Professor in the Anatomy Department at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, CA. She also served as the forensic anthropologist for the Los Angeles Department of the Medical Examiner/Coroner.

For those of us who knew Vicki, we know how much she achieved against incredible odds. Her health was always unsteady, but she persevered to complete her doctorate at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), earn a post-graduate fellowship, and accept a position at UC Merced before moving to Southern California. Her research focused on hard tissue histology, looking at the consequences of malnutrition and undernutrition in free and enslaved African-Americans. She also had a parallel research program on cementum annulation. She played a major organizational role in the medical training program at Western University, always giving it her own twist. She loved her subject matter and passed along that passion in how she taught.

Vicki brought enthusiasm, dedication, and a smile to all her work. At the time of her death, her professional life was on an upward trajectory. She was taking on new students and interns, designing training programs for pathology fellows, and handling the heavy case load from the Los Angeles area. She had developed a set of new research projects and was anticipating beginning data collection and analysis. Like all faculty, she was also looking forward to a return to in-person teaching, especially as she taught human anatomy. She had submitted her application for the forensic anthropology certification examination and was organizing the lengthy preparation process in anticipation.

She and Matt were true partners, looking out for each other and willing to sacrifice to support the family. Her son was an additional source of light and joy to both of them. She retained close ties with her family in Oklahoma. At this time, we also realize how she had also built a family among those of us who knew her at UCSC. We celebrated each new endeavor she started, including her purple (or pink) hair and fabulous skeleton tattoos. She had a style all her own. She will be deeply and truly missed for what she brought to all of us and also for what she could have done in the future.