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


(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 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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. Singhrao, S, Harding, A, Simmons, T, Robinson, S, Kesavalu, L, Crean, S.  (2014) Oral inflammation, tooth loss, risk factors and association with progression of Alzheimer’s disease: A review. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 42 (3). pp.  723­737
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.