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Tafline Arbor, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Anatomy

(317) 955-6269
Evans Center, Room 313B

Dr.Tafline Arbor


Tafline Arbor, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Anatomy in the Division of Biomedical Sciences at Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Arbor is the Lead Anatomist and the Director of the Anatomy Laboratories at MU-COM. She has extensive experience in pre-clinical osteopathic medical education, human clinical and developmental anatomy instruction, and curricular development. Her teaching interests focus on building an understanding of the body systems in a clinical context and helping students understand the clinical applications of anatomic content. Dr. Arbor’s research on the functional adaptations and phylogenetic relationships of fossil primates and early hominins provide her with a valuable evolutionary and comparative anatomical approach to human clinical anatomy. She is passionate about incorporating interactive and innovative methods in her instruction, such as incorporating ultrasound modules in the anatomy curriculum.

Dr. Arbor earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Wake Forest University and her Master of Arts degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She was awarded her doctoral degree in Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Clinical/Research Interests

Dr. Arbor’s anthropological research explores the comparative anatomy, biological variation, and evolutionary history of human and non-human primates. She has been involved in international collaborative research and co-directed paleontological and paleoanthropological excavations in North America and Africa. Dr. Arbor is particularly interested in the functional and phylogenetic significance of craniodental morphological variation and evolution in human and non-human primates. Her monographic descriptions and morphological analyses of the Makapansgat australopithecine assemblage contribute to discussions of regional morphological variation in South African australopithecines and the taxonomic and phylogenetic status of Australopithecus africanus. Currently, Dr. Arbor studies small mammal fossils from northwestern Nebraska in order to address biogeographic issues (e.g. climate change, species competition, and species movements) relating to the extinction of North American primates during the Eocene-Oligocene transition. Dr. Arbor’s ongoing research involves paleoanthropological fieldwork and comparative studies and inform our understanding of human anatomy and evolution.

Dr. Arbor is actively engaged in advancing pre-clinical curricular design and anatomy program excellence. Her scholarship in this arena contributes to our understanding of how to improve our educational programs and curricular elements to enhance student performance.

Representative Publications

Arbor TC (2019) Systematic and Scoping Review of Curricular Predictors of COMLEX Level 1 and USMLE Step-1. AACOM: Educating Leaders. Oral presentation in Washington, D.C.

Tornow MT, and Arbor TC (2017) Apatemyids (Mammalia: Apatotheria) from the middle Chadronian (late Eocene) of Sioux County, Nebraska. Palaeontologia Electronica 20.1.9A:1-16.

Brokaw JJ, Byram JN, Traser CJ, and Arbor TC (2016) How the distinctive cultures of osteopathic and allopathic medical schools affect the careers, perceptions, and institutional efforts of their anatomy faculties: A qualitative case study of two schools. Anat. Sci Educ. 9(3):255-264.

Arbor TC and Tornow MT (2015) Small mammals of the Middle Chadronian (Late Eocene) Whitehead Creek Local Fauna of Nebraska. Vert. Paleontol. Suppl 2015:80.

Arbor TC (2011) A morphometric analysis of the mandibular premolars and molars of South African Australopithecus. Vert. Paleontol. Suppl. 31(3):64.

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