Forensic Science News: 2014-15

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May 8, 2015 - Forensic Science Celebrates May Graduates

Forensic Science UNL - May Grads 2015

On Friday, May 8th the Departments of Entomology and Applied Science invited Forensic Science graduates and their families to participate in the joint graduation reception held prior to the CASNR Salute to Graduates reception.

The following Forensic Science students were honored (in order left to right): Kaitlyn Baumfalk, Rachel Soukup, Kaileigh Jacobs and Emily Anderson.  Other graduating seniors (not pictured) include: Aktham Adams, Austin Aufenkamp, and Feighanne Tharpe.

Due to the rigor of the program, graduating with a degree in Forensic Science at the University of Nebraska is quite an achievement and these students deserve congratulations!

Spring, 2015 - Forensic Science Welcomes Jeri Myers as a New Lecturer

Forensic Science UNL - May Grads 2015

UNL’s Forensic Science Program has a new instructor for the Fall 2015 semester.  Jeri Myers will be teaching FORS 445/845-Human Remains in Forensic Science as a newly appointed Adjunct Forensic Science Lecturer. 

As a previous student of our own Dr. Karl Reinhard, Myers has a Masters of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has been teaching forensic science and anthropology since 1998 having taught at Nebraska Wesleyan University and Ashford University.  She has worked with Dr. Shelley Burgess as a research lab assistant during the University of Nebraska State Museum inventory for NAGPRA, and as a Forensic Analyst and Onsite Supervisor in Mexico City for the U.S. State Department Merida Initiative Project.

Jeri Myers specializes in both forensic and cultural anthropology.  Welcome Jeri!

April 1, 2015 - Forensic Science Club Hosts 3rd Annual Blood Spatterganza

Forensic Science UNL - Blood Spatterganza

UNL’s Forensic Science Club, a Registered Student Organization affiliated with the Forensic Science Degree Program, held its 3rd Annual Blood Spatterganza fundraiser on Wednesday, April 1st.  Every year, the club provides Forensic Science UNL - Blood Spatterganzaindividuals the opportunity for individuals to buy a t-shirt and then find creative ways to get imitation-blood spatter on it.  The proceedings, supervised by faculty member and resident blood-spatter expert Sgt. Larry Barksdale, took place in one of the forensic science program’s lab facilities.  The idea is for students to be able to provide an educated explanation for the particular patterns displayed on their eye-catching shirts.  Patterns are designed to imitate common patterns like expirated, cast-off, drip, and splash at various velocities.

February 25, 2015 - FBI Agent Comes to Talk to Forensic Science Students

Forensic Science UNL - Karl Reinhard

As part of the FORS 200 - Forensic Seminar guest lecture series, Michele Stevenson, a Special Agent with the FBI Omaha Division, shared information about careers in the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

As the Applicant Coordinator and Recruiter for the Omaha Division, Stevenson highlighted several opportunities for students and graduates including paid and unpaid internships, careers as professional staff and as special agents.  She indicated that college graduates with degrees in math and science are very highly sought after for their problem-solving skill development.

Stevenson gave the students tips on the application process and noted particular areas of interest for forensically-minded graduates: the lab in Quantico which houses 750 employees doing a range of 50 different jobs, and the Evidence Response Team, an ancillary duty that would be a good fit for forensic science graduates.  She indicated two websites for more information about federal jobs: https://www.usajobs.gov/ and https://www.fbijobs.gov/.

February, 2015 - UNL's Dr. Karl Reinhard Presents at AAFS

Forensic Science UNL - Karl Reinhard

Dr. Karl Reinhard, Professor of Forensic Science and Environmental Archaeology of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Forensic Science Program, was invited to give a presentation in the American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS) Plenary Session on Anthropology and Criminalistics.  This theme has been identified by the AAFS directorate as a key area of synthesis for the future of forensic science. 

His presentation: “Pollen Evidence of Diet and Environment from Mummies: Determining Place of Homicide and Identity” described his analysis of a mummified Korean War POW for JPAC and a mummified individual he analyzed for the Nebraska State Patrol.  This marks the first time that mummy science has been introduced to the forensic science community.

February 11, 2015 - John Beck and K9 Jasper are Back to Discuss Cadaver Detection

Forensic Science UNL - Parents Association Award

As part of the FORS 200 - Forensic Seminar guest lecture series, John Beck, cadaver detection dog trainer and handler, and his K9 Jasper returned to discuss using search dogs to find human remains.

Jasper, a Labrador Retriever trained as a cadaver detection dog, demonstrated how she uses her olfactory senses to ascertain the location of human remains. Beck noted that in training a detection dog, the key is starting out with the right dog.  The dog needs to have a strong drive and desire to interact with the trainer.  According to Beck, some breeds are more suited to being working/detection dogs, however mixed breeds work just as well.

Beck indicated that anyone employing a cadaver detection team like Jasper and himself should check the dog and handler’s certifications.  He also noted that while in his experience, 80-90% of the time the searches find nothing, accuracy is important in reporting the search, which provides a record to the agency about who, what, when and the locations where the dog indicated, separating facts clearly from opinion. More...

January 30, 2015 - Parents Association Recognizes Forensic Science Faculty and Staff

Forensic Science UNL - Parents Association Award

Every year the Parents Association and the Teaching Council of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln commend faculty and staff for their contributions to students.  Among the 200+ identified by students and their parents, the Forensic Science Program had three individuals recognized: Assistant Professor of Practice Sgt. Larry Barksdale, Entomology Professor and Director of the Forensic Science Degree Program Tiffany Heng-Moss and Academic Advisor Ben Heinisch. Congratulations! More…

Fall 2014 - Forensic Science Faculty Uncovers Pathology of Chagas Disease

Forensic Science UNL - Karl ReinhardDr. Karl Reinhard, faculty member of the Forensic Science Degree Program at UNL has published research shedding light on the pathology of a tropical disease caused by parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, now cropping up in the United States. 

For the entire UNL News article click here.

September 27, 2014 - Forensic Science Club Kicks Off with a Picnic

UNL Forensic Science - Picnic 2014For the second consecutive year, the backyard of UNL Forensic Science Assistant Professor of Practice Sgt. Larry Barksdale was the site to celebrate the beginning of the new academic year.  Students enjoyed hot dogs and brats, chips, salads, fruits and desserts prepared by Barksdale and his wife Connie. 

Events like the Forensic Science Welcome Back Picnic give students a chance to reconnect after the summer months, mingle with faculty and staff and get to know students new to the program.

With attendance more than doubled from last year, the 2014-15 academic year promises to bring new students, new forensic science research, and an increase in student involvement to the Forensic Science Program at UNL. More...

September 22, 2014 - Forensic Science Ambassadors Going Strong

UNL Forensic Science - AkthamFall brings new faces to the Forensic Science Ambassador Program including: Samantha Hayek and Breane Morris (both Junior, CSI Option students).  They join returning ambassadors: Kate Schwenke (Senior), Aktham Adams (Senior-featured right), Taylor Friemel (Senior) and Ashley Fejfar (Junior).  

With new ideas and outreach opportunities, the Forensic Science Ambassador program continues to give current students an opportunity to share their experiences in the major with prospective students interested in forensic science.  We want to thank current and past ambassadors for their work in the program and you can look forward to seeing them at the next Forensic Science recruiting event. More...

August, 2014 - Amber Gudgell Becomes a New Forensic Science Instructor

UNL Forensic Science - pollen

UNL’s Forensic Science Program has a new instructor for the Fall 2014 semester.  Dr. Amber Gudgell will be teaching FORS 120-Intro to Forensic Science as a newly appointed Adjunct Assistant Professor. 

Dr. Gudgell has a Masters in Forensic Science (MFS-investigations concentration) and a PhD in Public Service Leadership and for the last 8 years has worked for the Plattsmouth Police Department and contracted by the Cass County Sheriff’s Office as an Evidence Technician/CSI.  Dr. Gudgell specializes in crime scene investigation, evidence collection and preservation.  Welcome Dr. Gudgell!

Summer 2014 - Student Interns at DC Police Department

UNL Forensic Science - Harvey Liu

UNL Forensic Science student Harvey Liu, spent the summer in Washington D.C. as an intern at the Metropolitan Police Department.  Liu was assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division and participated in many specialized units during his time there.  Some of his experiences included:

  • Investigating dead bodies with the Homicide Unit & Medical Examiner
  • Visiting the Forensics Laboratory with CSID
  • A 50 mile-per-hour boat ride with the Harbor Patrol unit
  • Searching a building with the K-9 Dog unit
  • Riding a horse with the Horse Mounted unit
  • Flying above the capital with the Air Support Unit

About 80% of his internship was spent out on the street, rain or shine and when he was at the station, he assisted with administrative work including crime data logs/analysis.  To see more about internships in Forensic Science click here.

August, 2014 - Two Recent Grads Publish in the Journal of Forensic Sciences

UNL Forensic Science - pollen

Shane Williams and Shelby Hubbard, alumni of the UNL Forensic Science Program have had their research using pollen analysis for locating tobacco origin published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.  Their work, Establishing Tobacco Origin from Pollen Identification: An Approach to Resolving the Debate adds to the knowledge base surrounding best practices for pollen analysis regarding tobacco and concludes that pollen signatures can distinguish broad geographical areas. 

The authors, who also include Dr. Sergio Miranda Chavez and UNL’s Dr. Karl Reinhard, analyzed a tobacco sample from Brazil to develop comparative data for South America, and also looked at the role of honey additives.  This work is key in the context of forensic investigation methods and is an important step in furthering practices of palynology in forensic science.

Summer, 2014 - Recent Graduate Does International Research with Faculy Member

UNL Forensic Science - Emily Spack

After graduating in May, Emily Spack, a Forensic Science major at UNL had the opportunity to work as a research assistant with Dr. Emily Hammerl, a Research Assistant Professor in Anthropology and Forensic Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

Hammerl and Spack’s work took them to St. Valery, a city in Northern France, where they examined juvenile dentition in a French collection of remains.  Spack used a Digitizer to measure distances between landmarks on bones to eventually create a 3D image of each bone.  They also used a 3D laser scanner and a handheld dental x-ray as alternative methods of collecting images of the remains for further study.