I am one of only a handful of biological anthropologists in Australia. Trained in biological and forensic anthropology as well as human anatomy, I received my PhD from the University of Otago in 2000. I have undertaken research in to prehistoric, historic and modern human skeletal remains from Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma and Australia.

I specialise in paleopathology (the study of disease in the past). I have a particular interest in age-related mortality, growth during childhood and associated growth disturbances, joint disease especially osteoarthritis, trauma, dental health and other pathologies such as infectious diseases. My research is predominantly conducted in mainland Southeast Asia and I currently have projects in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. On these projects I work closely with archaeologists to uncover human skeletal remains from ancient cemeteries dated between 1000 to 5000 years ago.

Currently, my teaching is focused on the musculoskeletal system for Medical, Biomedical, Science and Rehabilitation students.

  • BM1004: Anatomy and Physiology 2 (Level 1; TSV)
  • BM1031: Anatomy and Physiology for Occupational Therapy 1 (Level 1; TSV)
  • BM1041: Anatomy and Physiology for Physiotherapy 1 (Level 1; TSV)
  • BM1061: Anatomy and Physiology for Sport and Exercise Science 1 (Level 1; TSV)
  • MD1010: Introduction to Integrated Medical Studies Part 1 of 2 (Level 1; TSV)
  • MD1020: Introduction to Integrated Medical Studies Part 2 of 2 (Level 1; TSV)
  • PC1002: Human Anatomy and Physiology 2 (Level 1; CNS & TSV)
  • I actively seek to foster research development in postgraduate students. I have a long association with the Australasian Society for Human Biology (ASHB) providing leadership on the executive and conference committees.
  • My research focus aims to understand community health of prehistoric people through analysis of human skeletal remains, particularly focusing on the influence of the distinctive Southeast Asian diet, tropical environment, climate and their changes over time. The nexus of health, environment and society, seen through the lens of climate change and conflict is a key overarching theme of all my research. The impact of this research has grown to be internationally significant particularly in regard to my work on dental health and the rice diet and the understanding of conflict in the rise and fall of societies. My career to date includes many ‘firsts’: FIRST to publish on the health of prehistoric communities in Burma (Tayles, Domett and Pauk Pauk 2001) and Cambodia (Domett and O’Reilly, 2009); the FIRST recording of dental filing in prehistoric Southeast Asia (Domett et al, 2013); and the FIRST skeletal evidence of large scale conflict in prehistoric Southeast Asia (Domett et al., 2011). This exciting research career feeds directly into my passion for postgraduate and undergraduate teaching.
  • JCU’s Strategic Intent is to inspire our students to gain knowledge and intellectual curiosity. Student learning is driven by student engagement. I believe that without a passion for my subject, I cannot expect significant engagement from students. Engagement also comes from the way in which I blend learning basic anatomical structures in the lab with discipline specific cases to contextualise and apply anatomical knowledge. This also promotes deeper learning. The College of Medicine and Dentistry has excellent Anatomy teaching facilities and I would like to see them used to train not only the next generation of healthcare professionals but also the next generation of anatomists.
  • 2015 to present - Associate Professor, James Cook University (Townsville, QLD, Australia)
  • 2008 to 2014 - Senior Lecturer, James Cook University (Townsville, QLD, Australia)
  • 2002 to 2007 - Lecturer, James Cook University (Townsville, QLD, Australia)
  • 1998 to 1999 - Assistant Lecturer, University of Otago (Dunedin, New Zealand)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • IndoPacific Prehistory Association - Executive Committee Member 2019-ongoing
  • Australasian Society for Human Biology (Treasurer 2013-2019 and Secretary 2012-2013)

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 62+ research outputs authored by A/Prof Kate Domett from 2004 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Phillips KPA Consulting - Travel Grants

Building Research capacity in bioarchaeology in Thailand

Indicative Funding
$13,640 over 1 year
Research in bioarchaelogy, the study of human remains from archaeological cemetery sites, has only a recent history in Thailand. As such, it is timely for a consolidated capacity-building approach to be undertaken in this research field. Associate Profesor Kate Domett is among one of only a handful of bioarchaeologists specialising in this area in mainland Southeast Asia and is well placed to lead a sustained and realistic expansion of collaboration between Thai researchers and their Australian counterparts.
Kate Domett (College of Medicine & Dentistry)
Thailand; Bioarchaeology; Southeast Asia

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Unravelling the mystery of the Plain of Jars, Laos

Indicative Funding
$10,000 over 5 years (administered by ANU)
Since their discovery in the 1930s the mysterious collection s of giant stone jars scattered throughout central Laos have remained one of the great prehistoric puzzles of SE Asia. It is thought that the jars represent the mortuary remains of an extensive and powerful Iron Age culture. This project seeks to determine the true nature of these sites which date to a dynamic period of increasing complexity in Se Asia (c.500BCE-500CE). This will be achieved through extensive reconnaissance, precision mapping, archaeological excavation and analysis of associated burial material. Using a suite of cutting-edge archaeological technologies this project will have far-reaching benefits for archaeology, science, Laos and World Heritage.
Dougald O'Reilly, Richard Armstrong, Louise Shewan, Samsung Lim, Nigel Chang and Kate Domett in collaboration with Sian Halcrow (Australian National University, The University of Melbourne, The University of New South Wales, Corporate P&L, College of Medicine & Dentistry and University of Otago)
Laos; Southeast Asia; Archaeological Science; Iron Age; ancient burial practice; megaliths

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Body size, health, and diet at Con Co Ngua, Vietnam: an isotopic assessment of diet and physiological assessment of skeletal remains (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Reconstruction of the Biological Profile of Modern and Prehistoric Thai Populations (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • A New Lease of Life: Using advanced Analytical Techniques in Bioarchaeology to Maximise the Understanding of the Prehistory of Sardinia (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Fibrin Glue in Skin Grafts for Skin Cancer (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • An Analysis and Comparison of the Dentition and Dental Health of the people of Non Ban Jak (Masters , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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  • 39.139, Medical 1 (Townsville campus)
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