Duquesne Partners With RTI to Support the Forensic Science Technology Center of Excellence

Forensic science and law programs at Duquesne are working with RTI’s Center for Forensic Sciences and two other partners to support the national Forensic Science Technology Center of Excellence, funded through a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) grant totaling $6 million.

Dr. Fred Fochtman

The Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law and the Master of Science program in Forensic Science and Law (FSL) in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences were invited to participate in the national center. The invitation was based upon the accreditation the of FSL program by the Forensic Education Programs Accreditation Commission and Duquesne’s reputation for researching DNA and chemistry issues within the field, coupled with the ability of the Wecht Institute to bridge the gap between science and the legal community, said Dr. Fred Fochtman, director of the Wecht Institute. Duquesne’s share of the grant will be $225,000 in the first year of the project, with anticipated funding of up to $615,000.

Duquesne—in partnership with RTI in North Carolina, the University of North Texas Health Science Center’s Department of Forensic and Investigative Genetics and the Center for Human Identification and Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Forensic Science—will work to develop, evaluate and transfer technologies to forensic service providers, law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies. The overall goal of the center, which will operate as part of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center System, will be to support NIJ’s research and development program and to conduct the testing, evaluation and rapid dissemination of new technology for use in the field.

“We are excited at the possibilities presented by our inclusion as a partner in this prestigious group,” said Fochtman. “Duquesne is known across the field for the quality of its students, and we look forward to helping to transition cutting-edge techniques to forensic practitioners. Our researchers, particularly those working in DNA and chemistry studies, are eager to contribute to the fight against crime.”

In support of this endeavor, Duquesne will provide:

  • Field testing, evaluation and demonstrations of new technologies
  • Technology assistance to state, local and corrections agencies and forensic service providers
  • Hands-on technology transfer and assistance to RTI in defining NIJ program directives, ongoing research and development projects, and technological efforts in forensic sciences.

Duquesne’s programs are known for bridging law and science, said Ben Wecht, program administrator for the institute. “We bring advances in technology and technology transfer, to the benefit of the judicial system, so that we can help all components of the legal process,” said Wecht. “The ultimate goal is to solve crimes and serve justice.”