Sara (Heltzel) Sochor


Sara is the Anatomical Donations Coordinator for the University of Virginia’s CAB. She holds both a BS and MS in Biology with a concentration in human anatomy, a MS in Pharmacy with a concentration in forensic science, and an AAS in Mortuary Science. She has 10 years’ experience in postmortem care, which, paired with previous university-level laboratory and teaching experience, allow her to effectively manage all aspects of the cadaveric material handling for the CAB. Her responsibilities include cadaveric specimen acquisition, storage, inventory maintenance, preparation, testing, autopsy, and final disposition. Specialized skills include instrumentation of Post Mortem Human Subjects (PMHS) for experimental testing and data capture, performing post-test autopsy examinations/dissections to identify injury, radiological imaging interpretation, and documentation/coding of injuries/injury severity using the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS). She is an AISC.B Certified Abbreviated Injury Scale [AIS] Specialist (CAISS), as well as a NBSTSA Certified Surgical Technologist (CST). Sara also acts as the interface between the Center, the Virginia State Anatomical Program (VSAP), and the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME).


  • MS, Biology [Human Anatomy] – James Madison University
  • MS, Pharmacy [Forensic Science] - University of Florida
  • BS, Biology – James Madison University
  • AAS, Funeral Services/Mortuary Science – John Tyler Community College
  • Certificate, Surgical Technology – Piedmont Virginia Community College
  • Graduate Certificate, Forensic Death Investigation – University of Florida

Research Interests

  • Injury biomechanics using Post Mortem Human Subjects (PMHS)
  • Experimental PMHS instrumentation
  • Postmortem injury identification via radiological imaging & autopsy
  • Injury classification, severity, & coding
  • Medical student & resident training
  • Search and Rescue K-9 Training


  • Variation in the Caudal Branches of the External Carotid Artery: Comparison of Sex and Side. 2015; Medical Research Archives, (1).
  • Alshareef, Ahmed, et al. "Biomechanics of the human brain during dynamic rotation of the head." Journal of Neurotrauma (2020).
  • Richardson, Rachel, et al. "Test methodology for evaluating the reclined seating environment with human surrogates." 26th International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV), In press. 2019.
  • Shaw, Greg, et al. "Pelvic restraint cushion sled test evaluation of pelvic forward motion." Traffic injury prevention 19.3 (2018): 250-255.
  • Perry, Brandon J., Sara B. Heltzel, and Robert S. Salzar. "The Use of Dermestidae in Documenting Underbody Blast Injuries to Foot-Ankle-Leg Complex." ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. Vol. 58363. American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2017.
  • Casale, Garrett GA, et al. "Classifying and standardizing panfacial trauma with a new bony facial trauma score." JAMA facial plastic surgery 19.1 (2017): 23-28


  • American Association of Anatomists (AAA)
  • Association of Surgical Technologists (AST)
  • American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB)
  • Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM)
  • Association for Bioskills Laboratory Excellence (ABLE)
  • National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME)

Other Interests

  • Death Investigation, Travel