All posts by Michelle Chernicoff

NFSTC makes major donation of analysis instruments to the University of Tampa forensic science program

The University of Tampa’s Forensic Science degree program has a major infusion of analysis equipment and capabilities this semester. The National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) donated eight DNA, drugs and explosives analysis instruments including gas chromatograph mass spectrometers (GS/MS) and genetic analyzers, totaling more than $170,000.

UT Forensics Donation“All of the equipment we donated to UT is of the type and quality used by forensic professionals on an almost daily basis, including at our labs in Largo,” explains Kevin Lothridge, CEO of NFSTC. “By putting this equipment into the hands of future technicians and analysts, we can provide them with hands-on experience before they even step foot in their first operational lab.”

NFSTC was joined by the FBI, Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office, and Thermo Fisher Scientific in donating a total of 12 instruments to the department. The current value of all the used equipment is $230,100.

“If the University were to purchase this outright, it would be close to $1 million in upfront costs,” says Dr. Kenyon Evans-Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Tampa. “Our forensic science degree program is rapidly growing. The GC-MS instruments in particular are very useful donations. Our current GC/MS instrument is not sufficient for most of the needs of the department. The extent and generosity of the donations was an unexpected windfall, providing us with equipment superior to what we have now.”

Once the instruments are commissioned and installed, students won’t be the only ones benefitting from the donation. UT faculty will also have access to further their own research for validation methods for forensic analysis of drugs and explosives. In addition to forensic science classes, the equipment will be used in courses such as organic chemistry, physical chemistry, advanced instrumental chemistry and other science courses.

The donation comes ahead of the department’s audit to be an accredited program by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). Currently, 41 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs around the country are FEPAC accredited. From application to accreditation, the process takes about a year to complete and includes education program review and site visits. UT’s site visit was completed October 2014.

Science in the Sun is a Success

this kid is amazedInvisible ink, fingerprints and perfect weather made for a great St. Petersburg Science Festival. The National Forensic Science Technology Center was joined by volunteers from Pinellas Park High School’s Criminal Justice Academy for the fourth annual event held on the University of South Florida St. Petersburg waterfront campus.

Children, and quite a few adults, wandered through three activity stations at the NFSTC tent – chromatography, alternative light source (ALS), and fingerprints – trying to nab the “Cookie Crook.” At the chromatography station, our junior investigators compared samples to see which marker wrote the ransom note. Then they moved over to the ALS boxes to get a peek at the invisible ink left behind at the scene. The last station was all about comparing their fingerprints to the Cookie Crook himself. (Some even lifted a few from his adorable dog, too!)

Lynn Peavey donated evidence bags and several other hot ticket giveaways – almost all of which were gone before the festival closed. We’re already counting down to next year’s event!

See more of our photos from our Facebook and Twitter accounts.Puppy Paw Prints

Thanks to you, the FIC moves towards new grant

Thanks to your support, the Forensic Innovation Center (FIC) is one step closer to receiving a Mission Main Street Grant for Small Businesses from Chase Bank. The FIC needed 250 votes before October 17 to advance to the next round and we not only met it, we exceeded the goal three days early.

A panel of judges will be deliberating among the finalists’ applications and will announce 20 winners in January.

If awarded the grant, the FIC’s top priority will be continuing to provide a two week Forensic and Biometric Internship for ROTC cadets from around the country at no charge to them or their units. The grant will also enhance our summer Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) student tour events by providing improved activities and materials. In addition, it would also provide capital to increase dedicated staff for the growth of FIC, its partners and projects.

FIC is a new concept in forensic services–a successful forensic industry business cluster launched in 2010. A partnership of the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC), Training Team Solutions and Forensic Knowledge Partnership, Inc., the FIC is unique because it works together with mostly local partners to create forensic solutions to address problems that can vary by agency. Our customers are forensic service agencies (crime laboratories and police departments), US and international defense organizations and technology companies. We team with other leading forensic innovators to provide training, technology assistance and support services across multiple forensic disciplines. In the forensic science industry, it is often difficult to find companies that can provide services in more than one or two specialty areas. The FIC solves these issues through partnership.

Learn more about the FIC at www.the-fic.com.

The FIC is going “Main Street”

The Forensic Innovation Center (FIC) is nominated for a $150,000 Mission Main Street Grant for Small Businesses from Chase Bank. To win the grant, however, the FIC needs your – and your friends’ – help. With at least 250 votes on the FIC entry page by October 17, the Center can move on to the next phase of the selection process*.FIC-1024

What can FIC do with $150,000? A top priority will be continuing to provide a two week Forensic and Biometric Internship for ROTC cadets from around the country at no charge to them or their units. The grant will also enhance our summer Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) student tour events by providing improved activities and materials. In addition, it would also provide capital to increase dedicated staff for the growth of FIC, its partners and projects.

FIC is a new concept in forensic services–a successful forensic industry business cluster launched in 2010. A partnership of the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC), Training Team Solutions and Forensic Knowledge Partnership, Inc., the FIC is unique because it works together with mostly local partners to create forensic solutions to address problems that can vary by agency. Our customers are forensic service agencies (crime laboratories and police departments), US and international defense organizations and technology companies. We team with other leading forensic innovators to provide training, technology assistance and support services across multiple forensic disciplines. In the forensic science industry, it is often difficult to find companies that can provide services in more than one or two specialty areas. The FIC solves these issues through partnership.

Deadline to vote is October 17. Learn more about the FIC at www.the-fic.com.

*A Facebook account is required, but Chase Bank will not share your information.

National Forensic Science Week Recap

The second annual National Forensic Science Week wrapped up as a hugely successful event with participation by crime laboratories and forensic professionals across America. Official proclamations were made by officials in cities including Largo, FL; Baltimore, MD; Philadelphia, PA; and Miami-Dade, FL, and statewide in Pennsylvania and Indiana to kick off the celebration.

Several crime laboratories opened their doors to the media for an in-depth look inside:

–          Utah State Crime Lab

–          Miami-Dade Crime Lab

–          Roseville Police Department CSI

–          Sacramento Police Department CSIKY Western Lab2

Social media also played a big role in raising awareness of this important facet of criminal justice. By using #ForensicScienceWeek on Twitter and Facebook, supporters were able to connect to contributors from Arizona State University New College, NFSTC, Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), and many others. GBI hosted seven tweet chats over five days, covering topics from impression evidence to DNA. NFSTC conducted the first-ever Forensic Science Week group selfie contest on Facebook, and the Kentucky State Police Western Laboratory Branch team was the big winner, earning a free NFSTC online training course.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the week’s activities. We’re looking forward to an even bigger National Forensic Science Week in 2015!