University to host national conference for forensic science educators

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Waynesburg University's Department of Chemistry and Forensic Science was recently selected to host the American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS) Educators Conference, which commenced August 7 through August 9.


To be selected to host the conference, an institution must meet AAFS's criteria as a “major institution of higher education, preferably one with a forensic science program in place and under the direction of an AAFS fellow/member.”


“People on a national level must be noticing the undergraduate, graduate and service work we are accomplishing as a University,” said Mike Cipoletti, associate member of AAFS, assistant professor of forensic science and director of the University's forensic science program.


According to Cipoletti, the success and reputation of quality associated with the University's Crime Scene Investigation Camp for high school students may have been an important factor in being selected to host the conference.


Additionally, the faculty of the University's forensic science program has made a concerted effort to establish connections with working professionals and agencies to provide students with cutting-edge forensic science knowledge. Because of this, the University was able to coordinate expert speakers for the conference, including Detective Tim Sethman (Westmoreland County), Peter Alex (FBI Criminal Justice Information Services), Sara Bittner (Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office), Trooper Rich Hunter (Pennsylvania State Police) and Allison Murtha (RJ Lee Group).


“All of the presenters are experienced trainers and/or educators, so they were able to share ideas and tips that the teachers may be able to use in their own classrooms and labs,” Cipoletti said.


University faculty members, including Cipoletti; Adam Jack, assistant professor of forensic science and chair of criminal justice and social science; and Marietta Wright, assistant professor of biology, led a majority of the sessions including General Crime Scene Processing, DNA Analysis and Interpretation, Latent Print Development and Drug Identification.


Among the conference attendees were educators from all over the country, including Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Virginia and Washington.


“I have gained the tools, skills and confidence necessary to teach forensics for the first time,” said Maggie Chambers, a biology and forensics high school teacher from Redmond, Wash. “This opportunity to network and share ideas with experts and other teachers has been invaluable.”