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Steven Symes, Ph.D., D-ABFA

Forensic Anthropologist, Mississippi State Medical Examiners Office

Professor Emeritus, Mercyhurst 
Dept. of Applied Forensic Sciences

Dr. Symes is one of less than 120 forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology and recently retired from the Board of Directors. He has lectured, consulted or testified on trauma cases, among them high-profile human rights cases, in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Colombia, Indonesia, Cyprus, Kosovo, and numerous areas in Europe and Southern Africa. In addition, he has authored more than 50 publications and delivered over 100 papers, lectures and workshops on a variety of forensic anthropology topics. He is co-editor of “The Analysis of Burned Human Remains,” a reference book for osteologists and the medico-legal community for understanding burned bone remains in forensic and archaeological contexts.

As of August, 2016, Symes is now employed by the Mississippi State Medical Examiners Office, under the Direction of Mark M. LeVaughn, MD.

In 2003, and until recently, Dr. Symes joined Dr. Dennis C. Dirkmaat and the rest of the faculty of Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., where he was an associate professor in a renouned MS degree program in forensic and biological anthropology and an undergraduate program in applied forensic sciences. 


Before coming to Mercyhurst, Dr. Symes spent 16 years as forensic anthropologist for the medical examiner’s office at the Regional Forensic Center for Shelby County, Tennessee. He has been involved with hands-on forensic anthropology since 1979, when he became the graduate assistant to Dr. William M. Bass, founder of the Forensic Anthropology Center at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Both Dr. Symes’ master’s and doctoral degrees in physical anthropology were earned at UT, Knoxville. In 2008, Dr. Symes earned the T. Dale Stewart Award for lifetime achievement, the highest honor offered by the Physical Anthropology Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS).

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