Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Tara Moore

Dr. Tara MooreEstablishing a graduate program is not a simple or easy task. It requires a leader who can organize, plan, and, even more, motivate others. Dr. Tara Moore is such a leader who established not one but two graduate programs: M.S. in Biomedical Forensic Science and M.S. in Forensic Anthropology. It is credit to Dr. Moore’s commitment to graduate education that led to two excellent masters programs at the Boston University School of Medicine campus.

Q: What have some of your roles been here at BUSM?

I am currently the director of the Master of Science in Forensic Anthropology program. Before that program even existed, I was part of the team that established the Biomedical Forensic Science and Forensic Anthropology programs here at the BU School of Medicine. I teach anatomical sciences in the anthropology program and am involved in various studies investigating the effects of cold climate conditions on decomposition. In addition, I am a co-investigator in the Laboratory of Cognitive Neurobiology where I have been involved in the development of a non-human primate model of cortical ischemia.

Q: Can you tell us more about your role in establishing two new programs of study here?

In 2005, there was only one graduate program in Forensic Science in New England. We thought that students wanted to be trained in the field of forensic science and professionals wanted to teach what they knew. This is when we realized that there was a need to establish a graduate program in forensic science here. By the fall of 2006, our program was launched. We recruited faculty from the city of Boston and State crime labs and students from around the country. Currently, Dr. Robin Cotton, a leading expert in the field of DNA identification and analysis of biomedical evidence, is the director of the program. This program now has more than 70 students enrolled, 5 permanent faculty members and several adjunct faculty members from various agencies in New England. Once this program was established, we turned our attention to developing the Masters of Science program in Forensic Anthropology.

Q: Wow, you have been busy the last few years. Can you tell us more about the forensic anthropology program?

Yes, it has been busy, but it has been a lot of fun. I enjoy being the director of the forensic anthropology program. I am also lucky to be working with some amazing faculty members, such as Dr. Siwek as the associate director and Dr. Prince-Zinni, a board certified forensic anthropologist. Dr. Prince-Zinni is also the state forensic anthropologist at the MA office of the chief medical examiner. We also recruited an adjunct instructor from the Massachusetts State Police and two additional full-time faculty members William Powers (retired from the Massachusetts State Police) and Gary Reinecke (retired from the FBI) to teach classes in Crime Scene Investigation, Criminal Law, Homicide Investigation and Major Crime Scene Management and to provide continuing education courses in forensic science and forensic anthropology.  There are currently 25 students in the program, which is just the right size in my opinion. It really provides the faculty the opportunity to get to know the students through one on one interactions.

Q: What else is unique about BU’s Forensic Anthropology program?

The other great aspect of this program is that a number of the courses are focused in techniques and applied studies in forensic anthropology. The program is unique because it is the only forensic anthropology program in a medical school and provides the students with the opportunity to study anatomy and osteology in the Anatomical Sciences Laboratory. Many of the students are exposed to cadavers for the first time in this program. It’s a unique opportunity for them, to connect the perception of dried bones with an actual body. Students also have the opportunity to participate in an internship with Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Murray Marks at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where they assist Dr. Marks with the analysis of human skeletal remains.

Q: What can students look forward to after they graduate?

They will be well equipped to continue on to a PhD program. For those joining the workforce, there are opportunities in state medical examiners offices, in FBI laboratories, or internationally through the United Nations as one can assist in mass grave recovery. There are also military employment opportunities based in Hawaii, which involve recovering American’s missing from past wars including the Korea and Vietnam wars.

Q: Can you tell us more about your research involving a non-human primate model of cortical ischemia?

I have been involved in a study with Drs. Doug Rosene and Monica Pessina to develop a non-human primate model of cortical ischemia in young and middle-aged monkeys. This project was most recently funded by the National Institute of Aging. The model is designed to test the efficacy of various therapeutic interventions to enhance the recovery of function following stroke.  Potential therapeutics include occupational therapies (e.g. Constrained Induced therapy) and pharmaceutical interventions.

Q: How did you choose BUSM?

I am originally from western Canada, but I became interested in neuroscience and aging after reading an article by Dr. Mark Moss.  I knew I wanted to work with him and it has been wonderful to work with him. I received my PhD from the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology here at BUSM with Drs. Moss, Rosene and Killiany. I then stayed here to complete my post-doctoral training.

Q: Any words of advice for students?

  • Follow your passion
  • Complete an internship or volunteer position in your field before pursuing graduate or medical school. Get a good understanding before jumping in.

Dr. Moore is an exemplary BUSM faculty who is not only passionate about her work, but also committed to improving graduate education.