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College of Humanities & Sciences

Department of Forensic Science

Tal Simmons, Ph.D., D-A.B.F.A., Cert FA-I

Simmons [View Image]

(804) 828-3295

Tal Simmons received her A.B. in Anthropology from Bryn Mawr College, her M.A. in Paleopathology and Funerary Archaeology from the University of Sheffield, and her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee.

Professional Experience
Prior to arriving at VCU in January 2015, she worked in the U.K. for 11 years, where she was the course Leader for the MSc Forensic Anthropology in the School of Forensic and Investigative Sciences at the University of Central Lancashire (2004-2014) and held the post of Reader in Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology. From 2003 to 2004, she was a senior lecturer at Bournemouth University, where she was also the course leader for the MSc Forensic and Biological Anthropology.  Before moving to England, Simmons taught in the Anthropology Department of Western Michigan University for 12 years. Previously, she held a postdoctoral fellowship and lectureship in the Cell, Molecular and Structural Biology Department at Northwestern University Medical and Dental Schools.  She has held various fellowships at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the Institute for Advanced Studies, The Department of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, and in the Institute of Archaeology. 

While on leave from her full time academic appointments, Simmons worked in the field for the non-government organization Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) as director of the Forensic Monitoring Project in Tuzla, Bosnia. She also served as the senior forensic consultant for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Pristina and Orahovac, Kosovo.  She worked as the laboratory director for PHR’s Cyprus Project and again as a consultant for PHR in Sri Lanka. She also served as a consultant for the International Committee of the Red Cross, helping to develop post-mortem database mortuary forms.  Simmons is currently a Member of the Steering Committee for the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition.

Professional Accomplishments
Simmons is currently a forensic anthropology consultant, undertaking casework for the OCME in the Central and Tidewater districts of Virginia as well as for various international human rights NGO’s. She has provided expert testimony in courts in both the U.S. and the U.K. and provided independent expert testimony to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights concerning the massacres at El Mozote, El Salvador.  She is a Diplomat of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology and is accredited as a Certified Forensic Anthropologist I in the U.K.  She is a Fellow of the Physical Anthropology section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) and of the Royal Anthropological Institute.  Her research foci are experimental forensic taphonomy (rate and pattern of decomposition, terrestrial and aquatic decomposition, microbial community during decomposition), the analysis of trauma, and trace isotopes in dental enamel for human remains geolocation.


1. Palmer, N., Stein, R., Gronert, S., Wang, Q, and Simmons, T. (In press) Trace isotope analysis of dental enamel for the micro regional geographic attribution of human remains in Virginia. Journal of the American Society of Trace Evidence Examiners (publication
expected 2019)

2. Colella, O., Boone, E., Buffington-Lester, S, Curan, F., Miller, M. and Simmons, T. (In press) The Effect of Time and Temperature as a Combined Variable on the Viability of Latent Fingerprints Recovered from 60-Watt Incandescent Light bulbs Journal of Forensic

3. Cartozzo, C., Singh, B. and Simmons, T. (In press) Prediction of the Postmortem Interval from the Microbiome. Forensic Taphonomy (Ed. M. Sorg) (Accepted)

4. Simmons, T. and Galloway, A. (In press) Animal models for human decomposition studies: Utility and Limitations. Forensic Taphonomy (Ed. M. Sorg). (Accepted)

5. Forger, LV, Woolf, MS, Simmons, T, Swall, JL and Singh, B (In press) A Eukaryotic Community Succession Based Method for Postmortem Interval (PMI) Estimation of Decomposing Porcine Remains. Forensic Science International

6. Cartozzo, C. Singh, B., Boone, E. and Simmons, T. (2018) DNA Quality and Quantity from Waterlogged Bone: A pilot study testing three extraction methods. Journal of Forensic Science 63(6):1830-1835

7. Heaton, V. Moffat, C. and Simmons, T. (2018) The movement of fly larvae within a feeding aggregation. The Canadian Entomologist (

8. Fragkouli, K, Al Hakeem, E, Bulut, O and Simmons, T. (2018) The Effect of Range and Ammunition Type on Fracture Patterns in Porcine Postcranial Flat Bones. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine 53:1-12

9. Simmons, T. (2017)  PMI estimation: an overview of techniques (Chapter 10) in Taphonomy of Human Remains: Forensic Analysis of the Dead and Depositional Environment (Eds) E.M.J. Schotsmans, N. Márquez‐Grant & S. Forbes (editors), pp. 134-142. Chiceshter: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

10. Harrison, K. and Simmons, T. (2016)  Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology.  In: From Crime Scene to Court, Ed. P.C. White. Chapter 7. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry.

11. Moffatt, C, Simmons, T and Lynch-Aird, J (2016) An Improved Equation for TBS and ADD: Establishing a Reliable Postmortem Interval Framework for Casework and Experimental Studies. Journal of Forensic Sciences61(S1):S201-S207

12. Simmons, T, Goodburn, B and Singhrao, S. Decision Tree Analysis as a Supplementary Tool to Enhance Histomorphological Differentiation when Distinguishing Human from Non-human Cranial Bone in both Burnt and Unburnt States: A feasibility study. Medicine, Science and the Law 2016, Vol. 56(1) 36–45

13. Reber, S and Simmons, T (2015) Interpreting Injury Mechanisms of Blunt Force Trauma from Butterfly Fracture Formation. Journal of Forensic Sciences 60(6):1401-1411

14. Lynch-Aird, J, Moffatt, C and Simmons, T. (2015) Decomposition Rate and Pattern in Hanging Pigs. Journal of Forensic Sciences  Sep;60(5):1155-63

15. Card, A, Cross, P, Moffatt, C and Simmons, T. (2015) The Effect of Clothing on the Rate of Decomposition and Diptera Colonization on Sus scrofa Carcasses. Journal of Forensic Sciences Jul;60(4):979-82.

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