Park University’s Johnson Lecture Series Event to Feature Discussion on Forensic Science in Crimes
March 7, 2018 — With the popularity of crime investigation television shows past and present, it’s clear there is a fascination with how crime scene evidence, regardless of how small, is collected and how it shows what happened and how it happened.
On Tuesday, March 27, Park University will host a discussion by Tatiana Trejos, Ph.D., on how microscopic evidence tells the story about a crime as the focus of the University’s Johnson Family Lecture Series in Science. The talk will begin at 7 p.m. in the Jenkin and Barbara David Theater within Alumni Hall on the University’s Parkville Campus. Admission to the lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is requested at www.park.edu/johnson.
Prior to the lecture, beginning at 6 p.m., the University and Trejos will host a mock crime scene (appropriate for all ages) that attendees can walk through and identify clues about the crime. Trejos, an assistant professor of forensic and investigative sciences at West Virginia University, will discuss those clues and take a journey into the world of microscopic evidence and how the tiny elements provide narrative of a crime.
“While DNA evidence can tell us who could have or could have not committed a crime, trace evidence can serve as a mute witness to determine how, when or where a particular event happened,” Trejos said. Her presentation will also describe the innovative technology used to detect those small clues and examples of its application to forensic and intelligence investigations.
Trace evidence refers to small pieces of materials, often invisible to the naked eye, which are left behind at a crime scene. These minute items derive from everyday objects in our surroundings such as paints, fibers, hairs, glass, soil, tape and cosmetics. Data about how these traces are transferred during an event, for how long they persist and how common they are is used to assist case investigations.
Trejos, a former forensic chemist, has extensive experience as an instructor for forensic practitioners, prosecutors and other law enforcement personnel. Her primary research interest is in forensic chemistry, in particular, the application of statistics to evidence interpretation and the discovery of chemical signatures of forensic materials by spectroscopic methods. She is active in the promotion of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and careers. A recipient of a Clodomiro Picado Twight Science and Technology Award from the Costa Rica Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications in 2015, Trejos earned both her doctorate degree in chemistry/forensic and Master of Science degree in forensic science from Florida International University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Costa Rica.
Prior to joining WVU, Trejos spent 11 years as researcher and manager of the Trace Evidence Analysis Facility at the International Forensic Research Institute at Florida International University. In 2014, she was appointed to the faculty in the IFRI and director of the Professional Science Master in Forensic Sciences at FIU. Before joining FIU, Trejos served as a forensic chemist in the Department of Forensic Science, Supreme Court of Justice of Costa Rica.
The Johnson Family Lecture Series in Science was established in 2016 to provide members of the community, as well as liberal arts and science majors, an opportunity to experience science in action and hear established scientists discuss their research. The lecture series was established by Park University alumnus George Johnson, ’63, Ph.D., who provided funding for the event. Johnson is professor emeritus at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.