NYC Chief Medical Examiner Office to discuss lessons learned from 9/11 at URI

Lecture to offer unique perspective to students considering forensic science as a career

KINGSTON, R.I. – Feb. 6, 2024 – Mark Desire, assistant director of New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, will discuss the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks during the University of Rhode Island’s Forensic Science Seminar Series on Friday, Feb. 9. The public is welcome to attend.

During his presentation, “Death as our Mentor: Lessons Learned from 9/11,” Desire will describe how his work as a forensic scientist was given a new perspective that day, when the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed on him and his team, before he was able to crawl out and witness the devastation surrounding them. His lecture is scheduled for URI’s Beaupre Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences (Room 100), 140 Flagg Road, on the Kingston Campus from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

Desire works in New York City’s DNA crime lab, the largest of its kind in North America. During his 26 years with the city, he has investigated thousands of criminal and missing persons cases. He is the manager of the World Trade Center DNA Identification Team and has been featured in several documentaries and TV shows. 

Desire has been called on by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the Missing Migrant Identification Task Force, and has helped dozens of foreign countries with help and expertise in locating the missing. 

He is the second speaker in the Seminar’s spring series, which will include speakers from the Massachusetts State Police, Boston Fire Department, FBI and U.S. Customs, on topics ranging from the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013 to intimate partner violence.

The unique long-running lecture series takes place in the University’s Beaupre Center on Friday afternoons. URI students attend the series for credit, but lectures are free and open to the public. The free public series runs through April and is coordinated by Dennis Hilliard, director of the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory at URI, with Professor of Chemistry Jimmie Oxley, an expert on explosives and energetic materials. Those who can’t attend the seminars in-person can access them live online, or at a later date. (Schedule subject to change; join email list for updates)

In past years, the series has hosted best-selling suspense novelist Mary Jane Behrends Clark ’76, art crime expert Anthony Amore ’89, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Michael Camal ’18, as well as speakers from the Innocence Project, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, U.S. Secret Service, and more. 

To learn more about the URI Forensic Seminar Series and be added to the series’ email list, email Dennis Hilliard, Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory, at, or call 401-874-5056.