Seton Hill’s May 12 commencement ceremony will mark the first time students will graduate from the University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Science. The four graduates are: Jessica L. Keith, of Graceton, Pa.; April Kiral of Mount Pleasant, Pa.; Jessica Ludovici of Greensburg, Pa.; and Clark Witucki of Natrona Heights, Pa. Latrobe native and forensic chemist Barbara Flowers helped to create the forensic science program at Seton Hill, in which she serves as instructor.

Seton Hill’s Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science, developed in 2003, incorporates a liberal arts curriculum with quality in-depth training in the areas of biology, chemistry, criminalistics, physics, mathematics, political science, sociology and criminal justice. Seton Hill’s new forensic science majors will graduate from Seton Hill with the training and experience needed to find positions in crime labs operated by city, county or state governments, the F.B.I., Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Association, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Postal Inspection Service, or in other public or private sector laboratories that provide forensic analysis services.

“Seton Hill is continually examining ways to provide programs of study that will increase students’ marketability in scientific careers,” says Susan Yochum, SC, Ph.D., Chair of the Division of Natural and Health Sciences. “Forensic science as a discipline has expanded dramatically in the past ten years. The increase in market demand and the growing popularity of the field among high school and college students made this new offering a perfect fit for Seton Hill.”

While recent television shows focusing on crime scene investigation have popularized forensic science, the need for trained personnel in this field is real, and will continue to grow. “Recent advances in DNA analysis make it possible to revisit old cases, in some instances going back 25 to 30 years,” says Flowers, a Latrobe native who spent over twelve years working as a forensic scientist. “This adds to caseloads for forensics experts who are also adjusting to new policies meant to increase quality control and assurance, which, although necessary, add to the time spent on each case. In addition, every state now participates in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), that tracks DNA samples on local, state and national levels. It’s a great tool, but it relies on trained forensic scientists who can collect and manage those samples. All these factors, and many others – including an influx in drug crimes in recent years – add to the demand for trained forensic scientists.”