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HPU forensic science students attend professional conference

Boyer comparison microscope for webBROWNWOOD – December 1, 2017 – Howard Payne University forensic science students recently attended the 2017 meeting of the Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists held at the Fort Worth Stockyards.

Attending the conference were Mackinzey Boyer, freshman forensic science and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Granbury, and Alexa South, freshman forensic science/criminal justice major from Clyde. The students were accompanied by Dr. Derek Smith, associate professor of physical science.

At the three-and-a-half-day conference, Boyer and South, both aspiring student members of the Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists, had the opportunity to meet practicing laboratory scientists, veterans in the field and academic researchers.

Conference attendees could choose from seminars on the latest trends in synthetic drug manufacture, trafficking, detection and analysis; DNA analysis; the toxicology of drugs; and digital forensic investigation.

Boyer and South with Gill for web“These conferences afford our students the opportunity to receive in-depth exposure to and training in subject matter that is addressed topically in forensic science courses,” said Dr. Smith. “The trainees can meet professionals in the fields in which they may eventually research and practice.”

The trip was sponsored by HPU’s School of Science and Mathematics as well as the HPU Faculty Development Committee. Boyer and South each commented on how the experience provided perspective on some of the disciplines included under the heading of forensic science.

In a post-conference review, Boyer noted how fingerprints contain much more information than merely ridge detail.

“Fingerprints hold substantial pieces of evidence for various other types of cases,” she said.

South learned more about fentanyl, the new greatest threat among illicit drugs.

“Fentanyl is close to one hundred times deadlier than heroin,” she said, “but heroin and fentanyl look almost identical.”

Dr. Smith said both students appreciated the opportunity to meet and dialog with experts in these fields.

“They also enjoyed the opportunity to see some of the cutting-edge instrumentation that is being developed to aid the modern scientist-investigator,” he said.


Cutlines: HPU freshman Mackinzey Boyer is introduced to comparison microscopy of ballistics fragments at the Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists trade show.

HPU students Mackinzey Boyer and Alexa South are called upon by Bob Gill, Esq., expert instructor in digital forensic analysis, at a meeting of the Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists.