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SLU Forensic Anthropologist to Lead National Board

03/06/2019

MariaTeresa Tersigni-Tarrant, Ph.D., associate professor of anatomy in the Center for Anatomical Science and Education and the Department of Surgery, and adjunct associate professor of pathology, has been elected president of the Board of Directors for the American Board of Forensic Anthropology (ABFA). Her term will begin in July.

MariaTeresa Tersigni-Tarrant, Ph.D.

In addition to her forensic work, Tersigni-Tarrant teaches gross anatomy, embryology and histology to a variety of students including medical students and graduate students. Photo by Ellen Hutti

The ABFA is the only professional certification body for forensic anthropologists. Certification with the ABFA is the highest level of professional certification in forensic anthropology.

As board president, she will be responsible for overseeing the board of directors, yearly certification testing and ensuring that the ABFA is evolving as necessary with the ever-changing medicolegal environment.

A practicing forensic anthropologist, Tersigni-Tarrant works with the St. Louis City Medical Examiner’s Office, the Mo-1DMAT/ DMORT and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. She is the co-director of the Medicolegal Death Investigator courses and the Masters Medicolegal Death Investigation courses at Saint Louis University.

Tersigni-Tarrant received her Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 2005. In 2017, she co-authored Forensic Anthropology, A Comprehensive Introduction, Second Edition.

She is a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and member of the Missouri State Anatomical Board, American Association of Physical Anthropology and American Association of Clinical Anatomists.

Most recently, she served as a diplomate for ABFA and as a member of a humanitarian mission made up of 13 forensic scientists from the continental United States who traveled to Puerto Rico to assist with the territory’s Puerto Rico Forensic Science Project.

In addition to her forensic work, Tersigni-Tarrant teaches gross anatomy, embryology and histology to a variety of students including medical students and graduate students. In 2018, Tersigni-Tarrant was awarded the first Spirit of Saint Louis University School of Medicine (SLUSOM) award for her passion for teaching and commitment to students.

Last month, Tersigni-Tarrant was awarded the SLUSOM Student Professionalism Award for a faculty member.

Together with first-year medical students in SLU’s School of Medicine, she co-coordinates the University’s annual Gift Body Memorial Service, honoring those who donated their bodies to further medical education. 

Tersigni-Tarrant’s term will run through June 2020, and is renewable year-to-year by vote during her tenure on the board. She was elected to the position on Tuesday, Feb. 19.


Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: infectious disease, liver disease, cancer, heart/lung disease, and aging and brain disorders.

Story by Amelia Flood, University Marketing and Communications.