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Criminal Justice Update

Forensic science center opens at Bowling Green


Those learning at the Ohio Attorney General’s Center for the Future of Forensic Science at Bowling Green State University, which opened in January, work on cutting-edge equipment, just like what’s used at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s crime lab up the street.

That’s by design. BCI donated equipment and provided grants to purchase more. The bureau is a partner in the $1.2 million center, which comes packed with tools worth $800,000 more. 

Those include a DNA analyzer, specialized microscopes and an Agilent gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer, used for drug identification. The center even has something BCI doesn’t have yet – a Shimadzu 8050 liquid chromatograph mass spectrometer, which quantifies drugs in blood, urine and saliva.  

“When graduates leave this program, they are not going to have a learning curve on a different set of equipment. The protocols on operations align with the curriculum here,” Attorney General Dave Yost said at the center’s dedication. “They are going to move into a familiar environment with a familiar set of tools.”

The new crime-investigation, research and educational laboratory will train BGSU students as well as forensic scientists and law professionals from across Ohio. 

“Part of the mission is to develop educational and research programs that complement both BGSU and BCI,” said Jon Sprague, Director of the Center for the Future of Forensic Science. 

The research includes developing methods to rapidly screen for opioids, reverse drug toxicity, and look for PTSD in crime scene investigators. 

In the year before its dedication, the center hosted five professional training seminars on topics such as how to investigate officer-involved shootings and how forensic scientists can be expert witnesses. Sprague said plans are to host three to five a year.

“Science in general and forensic science in particular are always evolving,” said Jeffrey Lynn, a 35-year BCI veteran and Chief of Forensic Standards and Training at the forensic science center. “The folks out there in the field doing the work today need to always progress with technology to keep up with things.”

Bowling Green also is recruiting law enforcement officers interested in getting an advanced degree. The university offers a master’s of science in forensic science with three options for specialization: forensic biology, forensic chemistry and forensic investigation.