Luke Schrum | Staff Writer
A classroom in the Fisher Hall annex has a new look this school year – the former traditional classroom space is now home to a state-of-the-art, 24-seat forensic science teaching and lab space being used by the Masters of Science Program in Forensic Science and Law. The program was established 14 years ago and has grown steadily – currently more than 140 students are enrolled.
Dean and professor of the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences Philip Reeder explained the reasoning behind the DNA and forensic chemistry labs, which are housed in Mellon Hall.
“Space was needed to meet the facility needs for the program in terms of finding a home for the comparison microscope that is used in firearms analysis, and forming a trace evidence lab,” Reeder said.
He continued, in part: “with improved facilities comes the ability to teach an even broader and worthwhile suite of material to the students.”
Duquesne President Ken Gormley also addressed the reasoning behind the new lab, noting the benefits it will provide to the campus community.
“During the past decade, rapid advancements in forensic science have substantially enhanced the system of justice in our country,” Gormley said. “This new state-of-the-art lab will provide Duquesne students with hands-on experience in scientific principles and techniques to analyze evidence, in a centrally-located space.”
When the M.S. program in Forensic Science and Law was put into place, as is the case for all new programs, existing infrastructure and faculty were utilized to begin the establishment process. Fourteen years later, according to Reeder, a request was submitted to former Provost Tim Austin, who then submitted it to the university’s capital improvement plan. With construction taking place over the summer, following an approval and planning phase, the new lab was ready at the start of the fall 2018 semester.
“Lecture and professional development classes associated [with the program] will be taught in the lab… the laboratory section of the room will be utilized by classes having the need to do examination[s],” Reeder said.
Gormley, who attended the opening ceremony of the new lab, shared his enthusiasm regarding the addition to Fisher Hall’s facilities.
“It’s exciting to see the new forensic science lab opened; and it was especially enjoyable to join students and recent graduates, along with Pamela Marshall – the new Director of the Forensic Science and Law Program – for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.” Gormley said.
The unique nature of the program was a driving factor for the implementation of the new lab.
“The lab further bolsters the cutting-edge work of our forensic science and law program, which is the only one of its kind in the country to bring together science and law faculty to offer students a comprehensive education in forensic science and its applications,” Gormley said. “We’re thrilled to see this new educational and research space come to fruition. It will benefit Duquesne students for decades to come.”
Duquesne University places high value in its Spiritan tradition, and the new forensic science lab will help to further its global goals.
“The creation of this lab will enhance student understanding in their discipline of study and will provide hands-on experience to make them better trained and thus more marketable in their field,” Reeder said, in reference to the Spiritan mission.
As professional requirements continue to evolve with changes in technology, laws and techniques – “Duquesne, the Bayer School and in particular the Forensic Science and Law program are poised to meet that need,” Reeder concluded.