Marshall University Forensic Science second-year graduate student Kelsey L. Wilkinson of Tunkhannock, Pa., won a 2016 Forensic Sciences Foundation Emerging Forensic Scientist Award for her presentation about her research titled, “Development of a Portable Mobile Phone Forensic Acquisition and Analysis Toolkit Utilizing Open Source Tools.”

Marshall University Forensic Science graduate student Kelsey L. Wilkinson is a 2016 Forensic Sciences Foundation Emerging Forensic Scientist Award winner.

Wilkinson’s research project involved creating an inexpensive device for extracting information from mobile phones. She developed the device by using open source software­ (which can be free) on a raspberry pi, a small and inexpensive computer.

“The idea behind this project is to help reduce the overall cost associated with law enforcement obtaining tools to forensically process the ever increasing amount of mobile data that is essential to most cases,” said Wilkinson.

“Unfortunately, smaller digital forensic labs do not always have the funds available to keep up with the rising cost of commercial tools. This research project was started to give labs such as these options,” she added.

Wilkinson is one of two winners of the award. She will receive expense reimbursement to attend the American Academy of Forensic Sciences 69th Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 2017.

According to AAFS, the award is presented to the author of the best paper on any topic focusing on the reliability and validity of techniques, processes, or methods in a forensic area of the author’s choice.  The purpose of the award is to nurture a productive dialogue between emerging judicial and forensic standards of reliability and validity.

The annual scientific meeting features professionals who present the most current information, research, and updates in forensic science. The professional organization represents the United States, Canada and 70 other countries worldwide.

Wilkinson said she decided to attend Marshall’s Forensic Science Graduate Program because it was an opportunity to study four areas of emphases and expand her knowledge in the forensic science field. “A terrific bonus was the accredited digital forensic emphasis that allows the students to work closely with the West Virginia State Police Digital Forensics Unit,” she said.

In May, Wilkinson will graduate from Marshall University with her master’s degree in forensic science with emphases in crime scene investigation and digital forensics. During the summer semester in 2015 she interned at the West Virginia State Police Digital Forensics Unit.

She attended Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry, a concentration in forensic science and a minor in criminal justice. After obtaining her undergraduate degree, she worked for two years in a forensic drug testing laboratory.

Research advisors for the project were Dr. Terry W. Fenger, director of Marshall’s Forensic Science Graduate Program; Cpl. Robert J. Boggs, a digital forensic investigator for the West Virginia State Police Digital Forensic Unit housed at the center; and Josh Brunty, an instructor for the Forensic Science Graduate Program.

For more information about Marshall’s nationally recognized Forensic Science Graduate Program offering areas of emphasis in DNA analysis, forensic chemistry, digital forensics and crime scene investigation, please visit or call Dr. Pamela Staton at 304-691-8962.  She is the program coordinator and a professor of forensic science in the graduate program.