News Release

AAA funds initiative to bring equitable representation to anatomical instructional materials

Grant and Award Announcement

American Association for Anatomy

The American Association for Anatomy (AAA) has funded a program entitled Portfolios of People: Advancing Anatomical Representation Together (POP AART). The POP AART program aims to address a lack of anatomy teaching visual supplements that are representative of human diversity.

Most anatomical imagery currently available features pale-skinned, muscular, male subjects. Additionally, many of these images are either copyright-protected or owned by publishers, greatly limiting the availability of affordable visual supplements for anatomy instructors.

POP AART will combat these issues by creating an accessible digital library of representative photographs and illustrations of diverse individuals. The portfolio will include self-identified narratives from models, illustrators, and photographers.

“As anatomy educators, we need to demonstrate the diversity of individuals along the continuum of physical traits that we see in skin tone, habitus, age, and lived experience,” says POP AART team member Dr. Melissa Carroll. “Our project is unique because it asks our models and creatives (photographers and illustrators) to voluntarily self-identify so that we can further reflect on the inclusivity of what it means to be human.”

“This project is just a small step towards addressing the inequities in anatomical education,” adds team member, Dr. Theodore Smith, “While much work is still yet to be done, representation within anatomical content, whether for patient or professional education, is a vital step.”

Work on the project will begin in January 2022 and will continue through December 2023.

The association’s Board of Directors  remains committed to advancing organizational diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, as well as nurturing the broad representation of scientists and educators in the anatomy community. Funding and support of member-initiated projects, like POP AART, also align with AAA values: community, respect, inclusion, integrity, and discovery.

“I am beyond thrilled to be on the POP AART team and know that this project will provide essential resources for our membership and beyond,” says team member Dr. Kelly Harrell. “I am grateful for AAA’s full support of this project and the Association’s ongoing, intentional efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion work within anatomical science education, research and service.”     


Melissa A. Carroll PhD, MS (she/her/hers) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She has taught anatomy, neuroanatomy, embryology, and physiology for multiple disciplines and academic levels, while primarily serving Doctor of Physical Therapy students for the last decade. In addition to her teaching, she is the founder of the Black in Anatomy grassroots organization which focuses on celebrating and amplifying black contributions to anatomical sciences. Dr. Carroll has published on diverse mentorship in STEM education, anatomical competence in physical therapist education, and various other research projects. 

Jerry Guillot, PhD (he/him/his) is an Associate Professor of Cellular Biology and Anatomy at the Medical College of Georgia. A graduate of the Education Track PhD Program at Indiana University School of Medicine, his doctoral training emphasized teaching all the anatomical disciplines to undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. He will leverage his Master of Science in Medical Illustration and 10 years of industry experience as an Artistic and Creative Director for a medical education company to support and advance the POP AART project.

Kelly M. Harrell, PhD, MPT (she/her/hers) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. She has been teaching anatomical sciences across multiple undergraduate and graduate programs since 2005. Dr. Harrell’s scholarship focuses on exploring the effectiveness of interactive instructional methodologies, better understanding the influence of academic self-concept on performance, and investigating the intersection of professionalism, teamwork and diversity, equity and inclusion work in the context of medical education. 

Theodore C. Smith, PhD (he/him/his) is an Assistant Professor of Anatomy at Touro University - California. While a classically trained anatomist, Theo is also trained in educational research with several publications in educational topics spanning from metacognition to educational resource development. His current scholarship examines how sex, gender, and sexual orientation are discussed in anatomy and medicine in general, and how curricular changes and faculty development can create a more inclusive health curriculum for all. 

About AAA

The American Association for Anatomy is an international membership organization of biomedical researchers and educators specializing in the structural foundation of health and disease. AAA connects gross anatomists, neuroscientists, developmental biologists, physical anthropologists, cell biologists, physical therapists, and others to advance the anatomical sciences through research, education, and professional development. To join, visit


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