Rachel Wentz is a former firefighter/paramedic turned bioarchaeologist/writer. She was born on the island of Oahu, the daughter of a naval captain, and it was this transient existence that instilled in her a love of travel and a fascination with human culture. Her earliest memories are of her years spent on the islands of the Philippines; a period during which she experienced a myriad of injuries, thus also instilling in her a fascination with medicine.
After graduating from high school, she began studying anthropology at the University of Central Florida, but became restless and redirected her studies to becoming a paramedic. It was while performing her clinicals at Orlando Fire Department that she was first introduced to firefighting and was immediately hooked. She attended the Central Florida Fire Academy, returned to college and completed an associate’s degree in Emergency Medical Services, and was then hired by Orlando Fire Department.
Although the field of emergency medical services was exciting and gratifying, Wentz was unable to shake her inherent restlessness, nor her interest in anthropology. While working for OFD, she returned to UCF and completed her bachelor’s in anthropology, then went on to complete an AS in Fire Science, a master’s in public administration, and numerous specialized fire training courses. She quickly rose through the ranks of OFD, becoming only the third female in the department’s history to achieve the rank of lieutenant. After eleven years with OFD, she retired from the department to pursue a master’s and PhD in anthropology at Florida State University.
She became a bioarchaeologist, trained in the analysis of human skeletal remains. Her research focuses on ancient disease and population health and has been featured on the History Chanel, the Weather Chanel, and in Archaeology magazine.
Dr. Wentz is the author of seven books. Her first novel, The Mass of Men, won the Florida Authors and Publishers Association Silver Medal President’s Award in Genre Fiction and recently made IndieReader’s “Best Of” list. Her memoir, Let Burn: The Making and Breaking of a Firefighter/Paramedic, also won a FAPA Silver Medal, in Memoirs. Her latest book, The Body Blog: Explorations in Science and Culture, won the FAPA Silver Medal in Adult Non-Fiction.