Forensic Faculty Achieve Top Certifications in Their Fields

Two faculty members in the Department of Forensic Science recently earned distinguished certifications in their respective fields.

Dr. Joan Bytheway, an Associate Professor and Director of the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility (STAFS), earned Diplomate status, the highest certification, from the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and Dr. Chi-Chung Jorn Yu, an Associate Professor, attained the certification as a Diplomate of the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC). Similar to other medical or scientific-related certifications, the designation recognized individuals for their special qualifications in the field.

“We are very fortunate to have such highly qualified faculty at Sam Houston State University. We value tremendously their professional achievements,“ said Dr. Sarah Kerrigan, Professor and Chair of the Department of Forensic Science at SHSU. “We are not only committed to advancing the careers of our faculty, but the forensic science community as a whole.”

Forensic Anthropology Certification

Dr. Bytheway (center) is the Director of STAFS.
Dr. Bytheway (center) is the Director of STAFS.
The forensic anthropologist certification does not merely signify minimal competencies to practice, but rather it denotes the highest achievement in the field. It is based on personal and professional records of education and training, experience and achievement. It requires rigorous examination in theory and practice and recognizes high standards of ethics, conduct and professional practice.

The practice of forensic anthropology involves the analysis of skeletal, badly decomposed or otherwise unidentifiable remains in a legal or humanitarian context. It applies standard science techniques developed by physical anthropology to analyze human remains and aid in the detection of crime.

In addition to assisting in locating and recovering human remains, forensic anthropologists can assess the age, sex, ancestry and stature based on skeletal features. Forensic anthropologists frequently work with forensic pathologists, odontologists and homicide investigators to identify remains, document trauma and estimate time of death.
Criminalistics Certification

Dr. Yu work with students in the lab.
Dr. Yu work with students in the lab.
Criminalistics is the scientific study and evaluation of physical evidence in the commission of a crime, including drug analysis, crime scene reconstruction, molecular biology and DNA, fire debris and explosives, photography and trace evidence.

Certification as a Diplomate of the ABC, denoted by the designation D-ABC, is awarded to individuals with a BS/BA in a natural science, two years of forensic laboratory or teaching experience and upon successful completion of any ABC Examination. The examinations are: Comprehensive Criminalistics Examination (CCE), Drug Analysis (DA), Molecular Biology (MB), Fire Debris Analysis (FD), Trace Evidence- Hairs and Fibers (THF) and Trace Evidence – Paints and Polymers (TPP).

The CCE is a comprehensive examination covering all disciplines found in a crime laboratory as well as the areas of safety and ethics. Diplomate status is designed for laboratory directors, supervisors, educators, or where Specialty Examinations have not been planned or developed, (e.g. explosives, soils, etc.) or those no longer able to maintain the proficiency testing requirement for their Fellow status.

Skeletons provides information about the sex, height and ethnicity of the victim.
Skeletons provides information about the sex, height and ethnicity of the victim.
Dr. Bytheway founded STAFS at Sam Houston State University, one of only six willed body donation facilities in the U.S. for the study of forensic anthropology. In addition to research, the facility helps to train law enforcement officers and high school forensic teachers in various aspects of crime scene investigations.

Dr. Bytheway specializes in forensic anthropology/human osteology and taphonomy with an interest in bone pathology and trauma. Her research involves the areas of sex determination of the fragmented os coxa utilizing three dimensional data, effects of fire trauma to human skeletal remains, and non-metric anomalies of the human skeleton.

Prior to joining the faculty at Sam Houston State University, Dr. Bytheway was a Forensic Anthropologist/Lab Analyst for a project in Baghdad, Iraq involving the reconstruction and analysis of skeletal remains of individuals of the Iraqi population found in mass graves. As a result, she produced a number of technical forensic reports for the Regime Crimes Liaison Office, United State Embassy, Baghdad, Iraq and the Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis, MO. She also has served as a peer reviewer in more than 130 forensic cases and consults for multiple law enforcement agencies in southeast Texas.

Dr Yu tests evidence found at crime scenes.
Dr Yu tests evidence found at crime scenes.
Dr. Yu is involved in several areas of criminalistics in the Department of Forensic Science. In 2014, he was promoted to Fellow in the Criminalistics Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

He studied testing techniques for amphetamines and a mold toxin and has assisted as a forensic advisor for a study of the NIBIN ballistics database and the development of an online certification program for forensic science teachers for the Texas Education Association. Most recently, he collaborated by Dr. Ilona Petrikovics on a new biomarker for cyanide poisoning.

Dr. Yu’s current research interests focus on forensic chemistry, examination of trace evidence and analysis of pattern evidence. His research lab is working on developing novel analytical techniques for the application in forensic science.

Before joining SHSU, Dr. Yu was a forensic scientist at Forensic Science Center, Taipei, Taiwan. As a practitioner in crime scene investigation, he had numerous opportunities to resolve major crimes within the Taipei municipal area. During his graduate training, he completed a study using different algorithms to search infrared spectra for automobile coatings by the use of Micro-FT-IR (a Microscope coupled to a Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy).

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