Lakefly 24: Subject Specialists

It’s often said that you should “write what you know.” When writing about something you don’t know, research is crucial in creating accurate and authentic scenes/settings. This year, we’re offering three subject specialists who will talk about their professions and answer questions to help you nail down the details that will make your writing realistic and believable.

  • Forensic anthropologists utilize their knowledge of the human skeleton to assist law enforcement agencies in death investigations. This work includes estimating the sex, age, ancestry, and stature from skeletal remains, searching for clandestine burials, and examining trauma. In this presentation, Dr. Jordan Karsten will introduce attendees to the scientific methods employed by forensic anthropologists through a series of case studies from around the state of Wisconsin.

Dr. Karsten is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He specializes in forensic anthropology and consults on death investigations for law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Wisconsin Department of Justice-Division of Criminal Investigation, and Wisconsin State Crime Lab. His work includes developing biological profiles for unknown human skeletons, excavating burials, and conducting trauma analyses. He also co-hosts Cold Case: Frozen Tundra, a True Crime podcast focused on cases in Northeast Wisconsin.

  • There is a lot of talk about nurses these days, but most don’t really know what nurses really do. Media portrayal is mostly inaccurate. What is it like to be responsible for the lives and safety of others? Work in a difficult environment? Work long hours in situations that take a toll on your physical and emotional health? And why would I never do anything else?

Karen L. Leavitt has been a Registered Nurse for the past 37 years. She worked in pediatrics at two nationally renowned children’s hospitals: Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City (6 years) and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (25 years). In her capacity as a pediatric nurse, she worked in medical/surgical units including neurosurgery, hematology/oncology, diabetes education, neonatal ICU, infectious disease, cardiology and vascular access. She also
served as a House Supervisor at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Karen grew up in Yuma, AZ and received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Arizona. She is married to Andrew Leavitt and they have three grown children and two grandchildren, all living in Atlanta, GA. In 2015, Karen moved to Oshkosh, WI and joined Aurora Medical Center as a nurse in the Infusion Clinic. She is an avid reader, gardener, and any other activity where she is outdoors.

  • Almost all genres of books attempt to describe the use of some sort of weapon. Often, writers don’t get it right. The difference between a novice “shooter” and an expert in violence is profound. Jeff Miller will demonstrate the way a 25-year military and law enforcement trained and presented their firearm in lethal and non-lethal situations. He will explore the use of weapons as they relate to movement, proxemics, balance, distance, and timing.

Jeff Miller grew up in Marseilles, IL. He attended Illinois State University and graduated in 1993 with a history and legal studies degree. In 2009 he earned a Masters degree in Law Enforcement Administration from the University of Wisconsin Platteville. He joined the US Army in 1994 where he trained as a Military Police officer. He spent time on deployment to Korea and Bosnia.

He transitioned to the Appleton police department in 1999. Jeff served in a variety of assignments at APD over a 21-year career. He was the SWAT team leader for five years, a member of the police Honor Guard, bike patrol, and community resource unit where he served in the drug and gang unit as a detective and supervisor. He retired in 2000 and worked as a corporate trainer in healthcare.

In 2024 he transitioned again as the Director of Campus Safety at Lawrence University.

Jeff has been married for 28 years to Julie, who he met in college. They have two daughters. In his off-time, Jeff is addicted to road cycling, logging over 100 miles a week. He’s an avid board and fantasy miniature gaming player. He loves many book genres but leans towards science fiction and historical fiction novels.

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