March 28, 2012 - Dr. Natalie Shirley, assistant professor of anatomy at Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) in Harrogate, Tenn., will soon add a new accomplishment to her already impressive resume: television star.

Shirley is one of several forensic scientists featured in the new National Geographic Channel series “The Great American Manhunt,” which will premiere Thursday, April 19, at 9 p.m. eastern time and air weekly. The other members of the investigative team are psychologist Dr. Dan Shapiro and retired Miami-Dade (Fla.) police lieutenant Bill Erfurth.

In the ultimate forensics challenge, National Geographic Channel takes away every shortcut that helps crime fighters identify a “John Doe” – dental records, DNA databases and all forms of personal identification – to find out if a team of experts can positively identify a complete stranger’s occupation, exact location and full name using only forensic clues from an anonymous target. The only hint: there is something exceptional about each subject – a great sporting achievement, surviving a disaster or excelling at a particular physical, artistic or mental skill. “The Great American Manhunt” is for anyone who has ever wondered how those “CSI”-type investigators on TV manage to track down anyone, anywhere, at anytime.

“Working on the series was a new and challenging experience,” Shirley said. “It stretched my thinking and used parts of my skill set that I don’t usually have to apply in daily casework. The process of figuring out the unknown targets was exciting, and sometimes we hit dead ends and had to rethink our strategy. In the end, I learned a lot and got to meet many interesting and brilliant people in our search for the unknowns.”

In addition to her appointment at LMU-DCOM, Shirley also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the University of Tennessee Anthropology Department. She received her B.A. and M.A. in anthropology from Louisiana State University, where she was actively involved in the forensic anthropology program. She received her Ph.D. (2009) from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville as a student of Dr. Richard Jantz, director emeritus of the Forensic Anthropology Center. Her research interests include skeletal maturation in modern populations, age and sex estimation from the human skeleton, and skeletal trauma. She is an active participant in the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and she was awarded the Emerging Forensic Scientist Award (2007) for her research in skeletal maturation. Shirley is also involved in the U.S. Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program’s initiative in Colombia, in which she participates in training and research exercises to assist the Colombian forensic community in the reconciliation of crimes against humanity.

The DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine is located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. LMU-DCOM is an integral part of LMU’s values-based learning community, and is dedicated to preparing the next generation of osteopathic physicians to provide health care in the often underserved region of Appalachia and beyond. For more information about LMU-DCOM, call 1-800-325-0900, ext. 7082, email, or visit us online at

For more information on National Geographic Channel’s new series “The Great American Manhunt” visit

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Caption: Dr. Natalie Shirley.

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