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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

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116

Anti-terrorism efforts, computer forensics,
psychology among topics of
URI Forensic Science Seminar

KINGSTON, R.I. -- September 3, 2003 -- The top-rated CBS show CSI is gripping drama, but those who want to hear how real investigators and scientists solve crimes should be at the University of Rhode Island Forensic Science Seminar series this fall.

Run by the University’s Forensic Science Partnership, the free public lecture series now in its fifth year, has featured renowned criminalists, scientists, and a reformed con man.

This fall, the role of psychology in criminal cases, fire and explosion investigations, law enforcement and anti-terrorism and computer forensics are among topics that will be discussed.

All lectures are held Thursdays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in Room 124 of Pastore Hall on URI’s Kingston Campus.

John Drugan, a senior chemist with the Arson and Explosive Unit of the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory, launches the program on Thursday, Sept. 11 with a look at how the lab operates. He’ll highlight several high profile cases.

Involved in forensic investigations for more than 18 years, Drugan has responded to more than 75 crime scenes and participated in lab analysis of 6,500 fire cases and 1,500 explosive cases. He is also experienced in drug analysis, toxicology and criminalistics. His current focus is crime scene analysis and fire debris-explosives analysis.

John Enright, director of Counterterrorism and Law Enforcement Initiatives for the U.S. Attorney’s Anti-Terrorism Task Force will describe the post Sept. 11 anti-terrorism efforts and philosophy of the Department of Justice and the United States’ Attorney’s Office, both locally and nationwide on Thursday, Oct. 2. He’ll discuss the coordinated efforts in Rhode Island and nationwide that have been undertaken to ensure that information on suspects and possible terrorist links are not lost or missed during investigations. These efforts, as well as the links between local street crime, financial crime and terrorist activity will be discussed.

On Thursday, Nov. 6 Kathleen Higgins, a 1970 URI graduate who earned her degree in chemistry, continues the theme with "Forensic Science in the War on Terrorism."

"Forensic Science is all about identifying sources," Higgins said in her program summary. "Where did this fiber come from? Which rifle fired this bullet? Whose DNA is on this envelope? So it is not surprising that forensics is playing a central role in the war on terrorism, linking evidence left at the scenes of terrorist attacks to specific organizations and even individuals."

Higgins, of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, said the conclusions reached in a terrorism investigation are helping to shape U.S. policy and determine military targets.

In 2001, the Department of Commerce awarded Higgins a Silver Medal for Outstanding Achievement and in 2002 George Washington University honored her with the prestigious Arthur S. Fleming Award for her extraordinary service to the federal government and the nation.
The complete schedule follows:

  • Thursday, Sept. 11, John Drugan, senior chemist Arson and Explosive Unit, "Investigations at the Massachusetts State Police Laboratory."
  • Thursday, Sept. 18, Russell Palarea, psychologist, U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, "Psychological Consultation to Federal Law Enforcement."
  • Thursday, Sept. 25, Gerald J. Kufta, of Kufta Consulting, "Investigation of Fires & Explosions."
  • Thursday, Oct. 2, John Enright, director of Counterterrorism and Law Enforcement Initiatives, "Law Enforcement & Anti-Terrorist Efforts & the U.S. Task Force.
  • Thursday, Oct. 9, Harri Kytömaa, principal engineer for Exponent, a national engineering consulting firm, "Thermal Science and Mechanical Engineering in Investigative and Forensic Settings."
  • Thursday, Oct. 16, Jack Hubball, lead criminalist of the Connecticut State Police Forensic Laboratory, "Select Look at Investigations at Connecticut Forensic Lab."
  • Thursday, Oct. 23, John Leo, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, "Investigation of Incidents Involving Hazardous Waste."
  • Thursday, Oct. 30, Kathryn S. Kalasinsky, chief of optical spectroscopy at the Division of Microbiology, Department of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases Pathology, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, "Hair Analysis—A New Forensic Tool."
  • Thursday, Nov. 6, Kathleen Higgins of the National Institute of Standards & Technology, "Forensic Science in the War on Terrorism."
  • Thursday, Nov. 13, Michael G. Leone, explosive device examiner with the FBI, "The FBI Explosives Unit, Role and Responsibilities."
  • Thursday, Nov. 20, Sharon Nelson and John Simek of Sensei Enterprises Inc., "Computer Forensics: Sherlock Holmes Goes Digital."
  • Thursday, Dec. 4, Carla Miller Noziglia, chairman of the board of trustees of the Forensic Science Foundation, " The Real CSI and Forensic Science Around the World."

The Forensic Science Partnership is a collaboration of the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory at URI’s College of Pharmacy, the Rhode Island Department of Health, and URI’s colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Human Science and Services. The partnership was established in the fall of 1999 to make URI a center of forensic excellence through research, curriculum development and community seminars. The leadership team for the partnership consists of Everett E. Crisman, associate professor of research in chemical engineering; Dennis C. Hilliard, director of the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory and adjunct assistant professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Pharmacy and Jimmie C. Oxley, professor of chemistry.

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Page last revised Monday, September 22, 2003 .