USA Developing Next Gen Forensic Tools

Posted on August 28, 2017
Marketing and Communications

The University of South Alabama will partner with multiple industries and universities to develop the next generation of forensic science tools for government agencies, nonprofits and private industry. The Industry University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) partnership received National Science Foundation (NSF) support to create a new Center for Advanced Research in Forensic Science (CARFS), the first NSF-supported center addressing these challenges. CARFS is jointly funded by the NSF in partnership with the National Institute of Justice.

NSF has funded two sites, USA and Florida International University.  Research at the USA site will focus primarily on digital forensics and data analysis, while partner Texas A&M University will work on microbial and decomposition forensics. The other site, led by Florida International University, will partner with George Washington University and Northeastern University in the areas of forensic chemistry, forensic molecular biology and forensic psychology.

“Many new opportunities will open up for USA through the establishment of this new center, and we are excited about being one of two sites selected for CARFS,” said President Tony Waldrop. “The partnerships between business, industry and government agencies and the universities will involve the digital, physical, social and life sciences, and we are confident that innovations in the field of forensics science will move forward exponentially.”

USA’s site will be funded by a $749,840 annual grant from the NSF’s Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers Program. Through local and national partnerships with business and industry, government agencies and academia, the Center will focus on research and development while also providing invaluable experience and networking opportunities for students at the participating institutions and the industry partners who are members of the Industrial Advisory Board. The NSF funding will continue through 2022.

“This is truly a historic moment for research in the forensic sciences. The aim of the new Center is to bring industry and government stakeholders in contact with academia to conduct research that is relevant to stakeholder needs,” said chemistry and biochemistry professor José Almirall, the Center’s director and the director of FIU’s International Forensic Research Institute.

Landing CARFS is the latest achievement for South’s School of Computing, which is the oldest in Alabama and a recognized leader in cybersecurity.

Rebecca Ferrell, NSF program officer for biological anthropology and co-lead of forensic science activities at NSF, sees great potential in CARFS. “During the last decade, the need to bolster fundamental research that will support and improve the forensic sciences has been highlighted at the national level. Colleagues at NSF and NIJ have identified the IUCRC as a unique mechanism for addressing this research need, and we are excited to pursue this shared interest.  CARFS is well-positioned to pursue innovative research within and across the digital, natural, physical, and social sciences that will align with stakeholder interests and help move forensic science forward.”

Dr. Alec Yasinsac, dean of the School of Computing, said research supported by the grant will begin this fall.

“Unquestionably, this center will be good for us because it will enable our faculty and students to work on even more cutting-edge research, giving us a unique place in our collaborative efforts with business and government,” Yasinsac said.

USA’s principal investigator and site director will be Dr. Michael Chambers, assistant vice president of research innovation. Joining him as project director will be Les Barnett, director, Center for Forensics, Information Technology, and Security. Dr. Brad Glisson, associate professor, information systems and technology, will serve as chief scientist.

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