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CSI NC State: Forensics Lab Shines Light on Crime

The cover story of the current issue of NC State magazine* details how faculty from across campus–including Professor of Anthropology Ann Ross–are working with law enforcement to transform the way we solve crimes:

“The bones from a dismembered body found in Texas are awaiting inspection in a lab near the 1911 Building. On Centennial Campus, a computer screen blips as it records information from extracted dye as researchers build a database to help crime scene investigators compare automobile fibers. In the basement of Brooks Hall, video game technology is put to a different use as a 3-D version of a crime scene appears on a screen. And just off Western Boulevard, an entomologist awaits a call from a prosecutor to testify in the case of a suspected serial killer.

If it sounds like CSI: NC State, there’s good reason for that. All across campus, researchers from different disciplines have teamed up to develop a forensics institute that is providing crucial help to law enforcement investigators. The institute will also establish a framework for students to delve into forensics, the application of scientific knowledge to physical evidence. The effort involves nearly every college on campus, from textiles to humanities to design to engineering, and researchers have garnered nearly $3 million in grants along the way. “The university right now is poised to become a national, even global, leader in this area,” says Billy Oliver, an archeologist and teaching associate who helped set up the NC State Forensic Sciences Institute, which brings together researchers around campus, establishes courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and provides training and help to law enforcement officers.”  

Read the full story on the NC State news site.  

Scientific American highlighted the lab when NC State hosted the national ScienceOnline2012 conference recently–a gathering of science writers from around the country. Ann Ross treated attendees to a tour of the forensic anthropology labs. NC State’s news services staff member Matt Shipman gave an insider’s view of the tour in The Abstract, the university’s blog devoted to research.

*NC State magazine is a benefit of membership in the N.C. State Alumni Association.