Who's Who of Professional Women


Mandi Collins

An expert in post-mortem, gerontology research, anatomy, and preservation techniques, Mandi J. Collins, who holds a Master of Public Health (MPH), says she has always been interested in the grief experience and how families are best served at the times in their lives when a loved one dies. She is an adjunct faculty member at FINE Mortuary College in Norwood, Massachusetts, simultaneous to her roles at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where she is an assistant professor as well as the director of anatomical services – all while pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in gerontology from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Ms. Collins aims to rebrand FINE Mortuary College’s body donations, particularly for academic institutions. She hopes to conduct research regarding organ donation. Further, she wants to make the term “donor family” meaningful and help communities feel good about their decision to select that type of donation. Prior to her current career roles, she was a director and embalmer at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, a licensed funeral director and embalmer at Mahn Family Funeral Home, and a funeral director apprentice at Helke Funeral Home. A first-generation college graduate in her family, Ms. Collins earned a graduate certificate in medical human anatomy from the University of Florida, her MPH from the University of Vermont, plus a Bachelor of Science in mortuary science and a Bachelor of Science in family social science, both from the University of Minnesota. She received the Anatomical Services Award for Scholarly Activities in 2020, is a member of Sigma Phi Omega sorority, and was inducted into the Alpha Alpha Alpha national honor society. Today, Ms. Collins’ goal, after earning a PhD, is to start a research laboratory that focuses on the impact of body donation on bereaved families.

Through her multifaceted work and career accomplishments, Ms. Collins has created a solid network within body donation professional groups while mentoring and learning from others. Listening to leaders of various programs and finding what works best for specific institutions and communities has garnered success since each community is different, which allows her to target and provide for each one’s needs. Through outreach and enhancing education, she has “brought humanity back” into the anatomy laboratory and done much more. At the University of Massachusetts, Ms. Collins coined its program’s phrase: “You’re more than just your body.” As the community embraced that concept, donation rates increased by 100% in 2023.

In another successful initiative, Ms. Collins introduced a green donation pathway for people who want to donate but don’t want to be cremated or embalmed with harmful chemicals adding to carbon emissions. There also are options for skeletonization, where people donate to the program to have their skeletons used for study in academic institutions. Staying on top of and contributing to such developments in her field, Ms. Collins maintains memberships in the American Association for Anatomy, the Gerontological Society of America, the American Association of Clinical Anatomists, the National Funeral Directors Association, the Eastern Consortium of Academic Body Donation Programs she co-founded, and other groups.

Ms. Collins is married and relishes time with her family, including playing and creating art with her child. She also enjoys reading.


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