RUFSI hosts law enforcement team for Selu seminar
A cadre of law enforcement officers joined Donna and Cliff Boyd of the Radford University Forensic Science Institute (RUFSI) Aug. 10-11 at the Selu Conservancy and on campus for advanced field and lab training in forensic anthropology and archaeology.
Representing the FBI and the Maryland State Police, the 13 agents and officers sharpened their ability to scientifically analyze skeletal remains. The seminar is part of the ongoing RUFSI outreach program to provide professional consulting in medico-legal aspects of forensic science, including forensic anthropology and forensic archaeology, as well as prehistoric and historic archaeological cultural resource management projects.
"Working with the Boyds was very helpful," said a team leader of the FBI’s Evidence Response Team. "They are well respected and it was an extraordinary experience for us to practice identifying human and other remains with their expertise."
The seminar arose out of a January experience during which the Boyds and the team collaborated on a recently-investigated cold case.
RUFSI routinely takes forensic science beyond the classroom. Applied forensic anthropology and archeology are regularly featured in the curriculum of the Summer Bridge summer immersion experience for high school women, the STEAM Academy for middle school students and at Science Days hosted by the College of Science and Technology.
Working with law enforcement provided a sharp contrast, said Donna Boyd, eminent professor of anthropology and RUFSI co-director.
"I was awed by their equipment and protocols," said Boyd. "They were very focused, skilled and specialized with established protocols for every aspect of their jobs. They were a professional team to watch in action."
One problem that Donna Boyd noted was that the law enforcement personnel used standard English measurement and the academics used metric measurements.
"Once we got past that interesting problem, it was a good opportunity to help them learn how to identify bones and learn osteology," said Boyd.
The visiting forensic professionals got a full academic experience. They laid out a human skeleton in the lab, they hunted and identified evidence the Boyds planted in a rural mock crime scene and even took quizzes.
"It was an honor to work with the officers and agents and share specialized training they will be able to apply to future casework," Boyd said.
RUFSI, co-directed by Professor of Anthroplogy Cliff Boyd, is housed in Preston Hall and will have special facilities in the soon-to-be completed Center for the Sciences. RUFSI and Boyds have combed the South Pacific beaches for the remains of American Marines and the debris of earthquakes in Haiti for victims.