Forensic science standards are the cornerstone of how science works hand in hand with our justice system. They are set and maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This fall, NIST, in collaboration with the Department of Justice, launched the Organization for Scientific Area Committees (OSAC), an initiative to coordinate and develop standards across the many fields of forensic science. OSAC has named 402 experts, including several from Michigan State University, to build a uniform set of standards for 23 distinct forensic science disciplines.
Two MSU professors will be joining the OSAC Subcommittee on Anthropology–assistant professor of anthropology, Dr. Joseph Hefner, and Dr. Todd Fenton, associate professor of anthropology. The committee “will focus on standards and guidelines related to application of anthropological methods and theory – particularly those relating to the recovery and analysis of human remains – to resolve legal matters.”
Dr. David Foran will serve on the OSAC Subcommittee on Wildlife Forensics. He is currently a professor of criminal justice and zoology, and serves as the Director of MSU’s Forensic Science Program. The committee “will focus on standards and guidelines related to application of a range of scientific disciplines to legal cases involving non-human biological evidence. These disciplines include genetics, morphology, chemistry, pathology, anthropology and veterinary sciences.”
The strength of our justice system is only as strong as the accuracy and integrity of its scientific underpinnings. For that reason, a strong foundation from which forensic science may operate is of the utmost importance. Acting NIST Director Willie May spoke about the importance of the work that these Michigan researchers will be doing.
“Creating this organization has been a true collaboration with the forensic science community to build the foundations for improving the practice of forensic science,” said Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Acting NIST Director Willie May. “We are grateful for the contributions of the many individuals, professional associations and government agencies who have offered their time and expertise.”
Photo Credits (cover and body): NSIT