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

Picture of Tal Simmons

(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.

At VCU, Simmons is helping to direct the skeletal and DNA analysis concerning the East Marshall Street Well Project (https://emsw.vcu.edu/) according to guidelines agreed by the Family Representative Council. 

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 Chartered Forensic Anthropologist in the U.K.  She is a Fellow of the 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. Santillán, P, Swall, J, Edwards, S and Simmons, T. (2022) Mass Grave Localization Prediction with Geographical Information Systems in Guatemala and Future Impacts. .Journal of Forensic Sciences 67(1):112-127 (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1556-4029.14889)
  2. Randall, S, Cartozzo, C, Simmons, T, Swall, J, and Singh, B (2021) Prediction of Minimum Postmortem Submersion Interval (PMSImin) Based on Eukaryotic Community Succession on Skeletal Remains Recovered from a Lentic Environment. Forensic Science International 323:110784-110784
  3. Cartozzo, C, Singh, B , Swall, J, and Simmons, T (2021) "Postmortem Submersion Interval (PMSI) Estimation from the Microbiome of Sus scrofa Bone in a Freshwater Lake" Journal of Forensic Science 66(4): 1334-1347 https://doi.org/10.1111/1556-4029.14692
  4. Thornton, I., Cartozzo, C, Singh, B, Mays, D, and Simmons, T. (2021) Development of a Quantitative PCR (qPCR) Based Method for Studying Temporal DNA Degradation in Waterlogged Bone Journal of Forensic Science, 66(3):1114-1123 https://doi.org/10.1111/1556-4029.14641
  5. Cartozzo, C, Simmons, T, Swall, J, and Singh, B (2021) Postmortem Submersion Interval (PMSI) Estimation from the Microbiome of Sus scrofa Bone in a Freshwater River. Forensic Science International 318:110480-110480. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2020.110480   
  6. Connon, C, Simmons, T and Greenspoon, S. 2020      “Crafting an Effective Virtual Classroom in the COVID-19 Pandemic” submitted to Journal of Forensic Science Education 2020, 1, 1-7
  7. Birkenfeld,M, Avner, U, Bar-Yosef Mayer, D, Cummings, L, Natalio, F, Neumann, F, Porat, N, Scott, L, Simmons, T, Toffolo, M, and Kolska Horwitz, L. (2020 Hunting in the skies: Dating, paleoenvironment and archaeology at the late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B site of Naḥal Roded 110, Eilat Mountains, Israel. Paleorient Vol. 46 (1-2):43-68
  8. Colella, O., Boone, E., Buffington-Lester, S, Curan, F., Miller, M. and Simmons, T. (2020) The Effect of Time and Temperature as a Combined Variable on the Viability of Latent Fingerprints Recovered from 60-Watt Incandescent Lightbulbs Journal of Forensic Sciences 65(1):90-96 (https://doi.org/10.1111/1556-4029.14133)
  9. Palmer, N., Stein, R., Gronert, S., Wang, Q, and Simmons, T. (2019) 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 9(1):37-63
  10. Forger, LV, Woolf, MS, Simmons, T, Swall, JL and Singh, B (2019) A Eukaryotic Community Succession Based Method for Postmortem Interval (PMI) Estimation of Decomposing Porcine Remains. Forensic Science International 302 (accepted 26.5. 2019; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2019.05.054) September
  11. Birkenfield, M, Horwitz, L, Bar-Yosef, D, Cummings, L, Goldgeier, H, Krakovsky, M, Natalio, F, Nebenhaus, K, Neumann, F, Porat, N, Scott, L, Simmons, T, Yashuv, T, and Avner, U. (2019) Investigations at Nahal Roded 110 – a Late Neolithic Ritual Site in the Southern Negev. Antiquity 93 367, e4: 1–8 https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2019.6
  12. 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 https://doi.org/10.1111/1556-4029.13792)
  13. Heaton, V. Moffat, C. and Simmons, T. (2018) The movement of fly larvae within a feeding aggregation. The Canadian Entomologist (https://doi.org/10.4039/tce.2018.9)
  14. 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
  15. 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 Sciences 61(S1):S201-S207