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

Simmons

Department Chair
tsimmons@vcu.edu

Education
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
Simmons is a professor and Chair of the Department of Forensic Science at Virginia Commonwealth University.  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 for one year, 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 organisation Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) as director of the Forensic Monitoring Project in Tuzla, Bosnia and as the senior forensic consultant for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Pristina and Orahovac, Kosovo.  She also worked as the laboratory director for PHR’s Cyprus Project and again as a consultant for PHR in Sri Lanka.   Recently, she also served as a consultant for the International Committee of the Red Cross, helping to develop post-mortem database mortuary forms. 

Professional Accomplishments
Simmons has offered 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 also 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 focus is experimental forensic taphonomy and concerns the rate and pattern of decomposition as well as the analysis of trauma.

Publications

  1. Lynch-Aird, J, Moffatt, C and Simmons, T (In press) Decomposition Rate and Pattern in Hanging Pigs. Journal of Forensic Sciences (accepted 7.8.2014)
  2. Card, A, Cross, P, Moffatt, C and Simmons, T (In press)The Effect of Clothing on the Rate of Decomposition and Diptera Colonization on Sus scrofa Carcasses. Journal of Forensic Sciences (accepted 26.2.2014); publication expected July 2014
  3. Singhrao, S, Harding, A, Simmons, T, Robinson, S, Kesavalu, L, Crean, S.  (In press) Oral inflammation, tooth loss, risk factors and association with progression of Alzheimer’s disease: A review. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (accepted 23.4.2014)
  4. Heaton, V, Moffatt, C and Simmons, T (2014) Quantifying the Temperature of Maggot Masses and its Relationship to Decomposition.  Journal of Forensic Sciences 59 (3):676-682
  5. Troutman, L, Moffatt, C and Simmons, T (2014)A preliminary examination of differential decomposition patterns in mass graves.   Journal of Forensic Sciences 59 (3):621-626
  6. Simmons, T and Heaton, V (2013) Postmortem Interval: Submerged Bodies. In Wiley Encyclopedia of Forensic Science, eds A. Jamieson and A.A. Moenssens, John Wiley: Chichester. DOI: 10.1002/9780470061589.fsa1080. Published 4th December 2013.
  7. Goodwin, WH and Simmons, T (2013)Disaster Victim Identification. In: Siegel JA and Saukko PJ (eds.) Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences, Second Edition, vol. 1, pp. 332-338. Waltham: Academic Press.
  8. Simmons, T and P. Cross (2013) Forensic Taphonomy. In: Siegel JA and Saukko PJ (eds.) Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences, Second Edition, vol. 1, pp. 12-17. Waltham: Academic Press.
  9. Widya, M, Moffatt, C and Simmons, T (2012) The formation of early stage adipocere in submerged remains:  a preliminary experimental study.  Journal of Forensic Sciences 57(2):328-333.
  10. Gruenthal, A, Moffatt, C and Simmons, T (2012) Differential Decomposition Patterns in Charred versus Un-Charred Remains.   Journal of Forensic Sciences.  57(1):12-18.
  11. Simmons, T and Hunter, J (2010) Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology.  In: From Crime Scene to Court, Ed. P.C. White.  Chapter 16, pp. 468-506. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry.
  12. Simmons, T, Cross, P, Adlam, R and Moffatt, C  (2010) The influence of insects on decomposition rate in buried and surface remains.  Journal of Forensic Sciences 55(4):889-892
  13. Bachmann, J and Simmons, T (2010) The influence of pre-burial Insect access on the decomposition rate.  Journal of Forensic Sciences 55(4): 893-900
  14. Heaton, V, Lagden, A Moffatt, C and Simmons, T (2010) Predicting the Post-Mortem Submersion Interval for Human Remains Recovered from UK Waterways.   Journal of Forensic Sciences 55(2):302-7
  15. Cross, P and Simmons, T (2010) The Influence of Penetrative Trauma on the Rate of Decomposition.  Journal of Forensic Sciences 55(2):295-301
    Simmons, T, Adlam, R, and Moffatt, C (2010) Debugging decomposition data – comparative taphonomic studies and the influence of insects and carcass size on decomposition rate.  Journal of Forensic Sciences, 55(1):8-13.
  16. Cross, P, Simmons, T, Cunliffe, R and Chatfield, L (2009) Establishing a taphonomic research facility in the UK. Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal 1(4):187-91