Marshall University (MU) Forensic Science Graduate Program student research studies were showcased at its Research Day event on Monday, April 25, at the MU Forensic Science Center.

Last summer, forensic science graduate students were selected for internships in federal, national, state, county and local forensic crime laboratories across the country, where they also received real-world instruction prior to officially entering the field of forensic science as working professionals in the crime labs.  The internships focused on research projects involving DNA analysis, digital forensics and forensic chemistry.

At Research Day, presentation reviewers included representatives from the West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner; West Virginia State Police Digital Forensic Unit; Marshall University Forensic Science Graduate Program; Marshall University Forensic Science Center and its Forensic DNA Analysis Laboratory; Marshall University College of Science and the Marshall University Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.

Dr. Pam Staton, program coordinator, said collaborative efforts between academics and practitioners benefit students of Marshall’s Forensic Science Graduate Program and crime labs across the nation in many ways.

“The internship program provides crime laboratories with a steady stream of competent interns carrying out research projects that serve to move the profession forward,” she said. “At the same time, Marshall’s students gain exposure to the working world of forensic science, allowing them to make informed employment decisions and hit the ground running as new employees.”

Staton said university forensic science programs are more effective when they have strong working relationships with crime laboratories.  “Our goal is to produce excellent professionals for the law enforcement community, whereas law enforcement agencies wish to hire the best employees,” she said.  “Universities focus on research and education while crime labs focus on casework and training in a complementary fashion that serves to move the forensic science community forward.”

The Forensic Science Center provides students with a unique environment for education and training in preparation for internships as it houses the nationally recognized and FEPAC-accredited Forensic Science Graduate Program, accredited Forensic DNA Analysis Laboratories as well as working forensic chemistry, forensic microscopy, digital forensic laboratories and a crime scene house.

Internships were completed at the following forensic laboratories and law enforcement agencies:

Kentucky State Police Eastern Laboratory in the Drug Chemistry Unit, Ashland, Kentucky; West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory, Biochemistry Section and Drug Identification Section, Charleston, West Virginia; West Virginia State Police Digital Forensics Unit, Huntington, West Virginia; North Carolina State Crime Laboratory in the Digital Evidence Section and the Forensic Biology/DNA Section, Raleigh, North Carolina; U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Forensic Chemistry Center in the Trace Evidence Section, Cincinnati, Ohio; Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in the Forensic Biology Unit, West Palm Beach, Florida; Aegis Sciences Corporation in the Life Sciences Branch of Research and Development Section and the CRIMES Section, Nashville, Tennessee; West Virginia Office of Chief Medical Examiner in the Toxicology Laboratory, Charleston, West Virginia; and the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner in the Department of Forensic Biology, New York, New York.