Department of Applied Forensic Sciences

  Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute

   Mercyhurst College

    119 Zurn Hall

     Erie, PA  16546

Office Phone:  814/824-3369 Cell:  814/270-9458 

Adjunct Faculty Address
  College of Nursing, University of Tennessee
  Regional Forensic Center
  1060 Madison Avenue
  Memphis, TN  38104-2106  
  Office Phone:  901/544-7203

Steven A. Symes has recently accepted a faculty position for a new 'Center of Excellence' at Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA.  This includes a new Masters program in Physical/Forensic Anthropology and a Bachelors of Science in applied Forensic Sciences.  He will continue to consult and lecture nationally and internationally since the college is quite interested in international student participation.

Dr. Symes is also an Adjunct Professor of the Department of Forensic Pathology and the College of Nursing at the College of Health Sciences, The University of Tennessee, Memphis.  For the last 16 years he has been the forensic anthropologist for the Medical Examiners office at the Regional Forensic Center for Shelby County, and 21 Western Tennessee Counties.  He received his MA and his PhD in Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  In 1997, Dr. Symes received the 57th certificate in North America, admitting him as a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. 

Dr. Symes has been involved with hands-on forensic anthropology since 1979 when he was invited on his first forensic case by Dr. William M. Bass, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  For the next 4 years, Symes became Dr. Bass’ forensic graduate assistant.  His interests and research involve human skeletal biology with an emphasis on forensic tool mark and fracture pattern interpretation in bone.  His special expertise is in sharp force trauma, i.e., saw and knife marks on bone and cartilage in instances of violent death and dismemberment and mutilation.  Other areas of expertise include blunt force, ballistic, burned and healing trauma in bone.  Dr. Symes has been invited to lecture, examine, and testify on trauma cases in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, and Europe.  Most recently, Dr. Symes has applied his interests in bone trauma and healing by organizing a special multidisciplinary symposium at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences on the history of child abuse recognition.

Other interests include taphonomical influences of recent, historic and prehistoric skeletons, bloodstain pattern analysis, and 35 mm and digital laboratory and crime scene photography.

In addition to teaching, has served as a consultant to pathologists, attorneys, and investigators from numerous states and Canada.  As a result of these consultations, he has been qualified as an expert for both the prosecution and defense, in the fields of forensic anthropology and bloodstain pattern analysis, and involved with crime scene photography consults.  With a specialty in criminal dismemberment and mutilation, Dr. Symes has worked numerous cases of serial homicides.  A notable example would include the Crown vs. Paul Bernardo (Symes 1998), a case of serial abduction and homicide in the Toronto, Ontario area.

A representation publication list is presented below:

Publication Sample:
Steven A. Symes, O. C. Smith, Hugh E. Berryman, and Elayne J. Pope 
2003 Patterned Thermal Destruction of Human Remains.  Edited volume Honoring the 30th Anniversary of the T. D. Stewart Personal Identification In Mass Disasters in 1999.  Eds. Thomas Holland and Robert Mann. Sponsored by the Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii, CRC Press, New York.                           
  In progress

Symes, Steven A., John A. Williams, Elizabeth A. Murray, J. Michael Hoffman, Thomas D. Holland, Julie Saul,  Frank Saul , and Elayne J. Pope
2002 Taphonomical Context of Sharp Trauma in Suspected Cases of Human Mutilation and Dismemberment.  In Advances in Forensic Taphonomy: Method, Theory and Archaeological perspectives. William D. Haglund and Marcella H. Sorg, eds, CRC Press, New York.             

Symes, Steven A., Hugh E. Berryman, and O.C. Smith 
1998 Saw marks in bone:  introduction and examination of residual kerf contour.  IN Forensic Osteology II.  Kathleen J. Reichs, ed.  C.C. Thomas, Springfield, IL.

Steve's 2006 Vitae here