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Forensic Dentist Mary Bush Honored by American Academy of Forensic Sciences

May 3, 2021
by The University at Buffalo

University at Buffalo forensic dentist Mary Bush has received the 2021 Reidar F. Sognnaes Award of Excellence in Forensic Odontology from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS). She is the first woman to receive the honor.

The annual award – named in memory of Reidar F. Sognnaes, a distinguished forensic scientist and scholar of oral pathology – recognizes an individual who has made significant achievements and contributions to forensic odontology.

Bush, DDS, associate dean for student, community and professional initiatives and associate professor of restorative dentistry in the UB School of Dental Medicine, was honored virtually during the AAFS 73rd Annual Scientific Meeting on February 15.

“To win this distinguished award from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and the Odontology section, is a humbling experience,” says Bush. “And to be the first woman to receive this recognition is truly an honor.”

A renowned forensic dentist, Bush is an expert on the admissibility of bite mark evidence in the U.S. court system, and was among the first researchers to question the validity of the science. Her research on bite mark analysis, conducted with UB colleague Peter Bush, found bite marks to be a flawed form of evidence and has been cited in several court cases, including the prominent trials of Douglas Prade and Eddie Lee Howard.

In 2014, Bush presented research on bite mark analysis during a congressional hearing on forensic science. Along with Peter, she also helped identify several of the victims in the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in Clarence, New York.

She has published more than 30 journal articles, as well as numerous books and book chapters, in the field of forensic odontology. Her current work centers on creating a database of the chemical and physical properties of dental materials – used for fillings, crowns, dentures and more – that can be referenced for victim identification.

Bush received the 2012 AAFS Forensic Sciences Foundation Emerging Science Award, the 2011 AAFS Forensic Sciences Foundation Emerging Technology Award, a 2012 Alan J. Gross Award for Excellence in Teaching from the UB School of Dental Medicine, and a 2021 William M. Feagans Award from the Dental Student Association at UB.

She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Forensic Sciences, and is a former president of the American Society of Forensic Odontology.

Bush earned a doctorate in dental surgery from UB and a bachelor’s degree in economics from SUNY Buffalo State College.

She resides in Clarence.

About The University at Buffalo

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB’s nearly 30,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities. Website: buffalo.edu/news

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