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Dec. 5, 2014

MSU experts pegged for national forensic science group

Three MSU faculty members have been selected for a new federal government organization charged with strengthening forensic science in the United States.

Todd Fenton, David Foran and Joseph Hefner will serve on the Organization of Scientific Area Committees. The OSAC is a new initiative by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, and the Department of Justice to create standards and guidelines for the forensic science field.

In all, 402 experts have been named to OSAC’s 23 subcommittees within five main areas of forensic science: biology/DNA; chemistry/instrumental analysis; crime scene/death investigation; digital/multimedia; and physics/pattern interpretation. Members will serve either two, three or four years on the subcommittees.

MSU’s members will fill the following roles:

  • Fenton, associate professor of anthropology, and Hefner, assistant professor of anthropology, will serve on the OSAC Subcommittee on Anthropology (within the crime scene/death investigation category). The 18-member group will focus on guidelines related to the application of anthropological methods and theory – particularly those relating to the recovering and analysis of human remains – to resolve legal matters.
  • Foran, professor of criminal justice and zoology and director of MSU’s Forensic Science Program, will serve on the OSAC Subcommittee on Wildlife Forensics (within the biology/DNA category). The 14-member group will focus on standards and guidelines related to the application of a range of disciplines to legal cases involving non-human biological evidence. The disciplines include genetics, chemistry and veterinary sciences.

In addition, Anil Jain, University Distinguished Professor of computer science and engineering, was previously announced as a member of OSAC’s Forensic Science Standards Board. The 17-member board oversees all committees and subcommittees and approves standards.