CSI: Texas A&M University

The demand for forensic and investigative scientists has been growing for years and is expected to continue.  As one of the country’s only forensic science programs, Texas A&M has a unique opportunity to allow students to participate in undergraduate forensic research. HUR has chosen “Undergraduate Excitement as a Pathway to Talent Expansion and Retention of Underrepresented Students” from the Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program in the Department of Entomology as the newest Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR).  SPUR programs are intended to give students the opportunity to spend their summer participating in a research project.  The Forensics SPUR program this summer will give two undergraduate students the chance to conduct a research project of their choice alongside any of 10 faculty representing 7 different departments across campus.

The Forensic and Investigative Sciences undergraduate degree program is the only nationally accredited, comprehensive, undergraduate forensic degree program in the state of Texas.  Dr. Kevin Heinz, Professor of Entomology and Director of the Forensic and Investigative Science Program, believes this summer research opportunity will provide students a unique opportunity to improve their knowledge of forensic science while developing both critical thinking and communication skills.

Students who participate in research this summer will gain valuable knowledge of the field of forensic and investigative sciences through the development of their own research projects. Their experiences will also stimulate them to increase their scientific literacy, build skills in scientific inquiry, foster enthusiasm for forensic and investigative sciences, consider ethical issues related to research and communicate the results of their studies to a large audience.  As a capstone requirement for the program, students will participate in the HUR poster symposium in July where they will have the opportunity to present the results of their studies to the campus community.  Each SPUR student will also prepare proposals and full manuscripts for submission in Explorations; the Texas A&M undergraduate journal

The goals of this program include, increasing student retention and building a foundation for a future proposal to obtain support from the National Science Foundation for a formal summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates program in Forensic and Investigative Sciences.  “Receiving this award will further advance the stature of the nationally accredited program at Texas A&M,” wrote Heinz. Heinz’s students will be provided with a balanced and empowering experience that will develop their academic and professional skills in this SPUR program.

Contact: Chrystina Rago, chrysrago@honors.tamu.edu

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