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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI & R.I. Department of Health collaboration
means bad news for bad guys
Two groups working together to enhance forensic science field

KINGSTON, R.I. -- August 21, 2000 -- A new agreement between the University of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Department of Health is bad news for the bad guys.

The health department's Division of Laboratories and URI's Forensic Science Partnership have joined forces to make the fight against crime even more effective by collaborating on services, teaching and research relating to forensic science.

The health department brings to the partnership the latest know-how in the areas of forensic toxicology, DNA analysis, drug and alcohol analysis, environmental chemistry, food chemistry, clinical microbiology, serology, and food and water microbiology and air pollution.

URI's Forensic Science Partnership brings to the collaboration the analysis of fingerprints, firearms, blood spatter, fire debris, hair fibers and textiles, explosives, propellants, and pyrotechnics. In addition, the University is in the forefront of developing sensor technology to detect pathogens in food, assist public safety officials in search and rescue and in evidence gathering.

During a brief signing ceremony at URI, health department Director Patricia Nolan said the agreement will enhance the sharing of knowledge and improve training and education for students, faculty and health department officials and staff, and the people of Rhode Island.

"The partnership is linking the scientific and investigative capabilities of our labs with URI's education, training and research efforts," Nolan said.

URI President Robert L. Carothers said this newest agreement is another positive outgrowth of the University's effort to eliminate arbitrary boundaries that hinder research and learning. "By working together, URI and the Department of Health can be greater than the sum of their parts. Collaboration of this kind breeds creativity and challenges old assumptions," Carothers said.

John Bourcier, associate justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and a member of the URI Forensic Science Partnership Advisory Board, said the partnership represents a great opportunity for young people interested in studying forensic science. "There is a great need for scientists who want to work in the area of criminal justice. It is also a critical area for the insurance industry, which is trying to cut the heavy costs associated with fraud," Bourcier said.

Gregory Hayes, associate director of health and director of the Division of Laboratories, said "This partnership will build a stronger forensic program for Rhode Island by connecting laboratory practice with research and continuing education."

Dennis Hilliard, director of the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory, located at URI and one of the co-directors of the URI Forensic Science Partnership, said that one of the main roles of the University and the Crime Laboratory is teaching. "With this partnership, we will be able to send graduate and undergraduate students to get hands-on training in the state health department labs, as well as our own. It's a natural combination."


For Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116


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