HATTIESBURG - Dr.
Michael Baden, star of the hit HBO series "Autopsy," and
other top forensic scientists from around the nation will present
topics during The University of Southern Mississippi's "Forensic
Science Seminar at Sea" this spring. The weeklong cruise aboard
Carnival Cruise Lines offers students course credit and access to
some of the field's leading authorities, coupled with leisurely
stops in Calica/Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, Mexico. Participants
will depart from New Orleans on March 12 and return there March
Evening workshops onboard will include crime scene
investigation, fingerprinting techniques, forensic nursing, alternate
light sources and courtroom exhibit preparations. Trade vendors
will also be present with the newest forensic technologies, including
Spex Forensics, Armour Forensics, Sirchie, Foster Freeman, Ron Smith
and Associates, Evident, and the Lynn Peavey Company.
"I will be teaching students things they can
do to make themselves better witnesses," said Smith, founder
of Ron Smith and Associates, a forensic consultation and technical
training company located in Meridian. "Today's jurors vote
based on their perception of the truth that day, and so much of
that comes from the quality of the presentation in the courtroom."
"So, even though a witness might know what to
say, it's how they say it that is critical; hopefully, we can teach
these students how to do it before they get their start in law enforcement."
The cruise is the second trip offered by the Forensic
Science Department at Southern Miss, which was recently given approval
by the Mississippi College Board to expand from a minor to a full-fledged
bachelor's and master's program. Last summer, about 100 students
participated in the seminar's maiden voyage, which featured TV celebrity
and leading forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee, star of Court TV's "Trace
Evidence: The Case Files of Dr. Henry Lee."
Program director Dean Bertram said 300 slots are available
for the cruise, with participants sharing double-occupancy rooms.
Participants have the option of taking the seminar for non-credit
or academic credit.
Southern Miss will offer a certificate of academic
instruction to coroners, deputy coroners, law enforcement officers
and other participants who do not enroll for university credit.
"We expect an even better turnout this year,"
Bertram said. "The interest has been phenomenal. Where else
can you have an opportunity to learn so much and have so much fun
at the same time? And the panel of forensic scientists is unbelievable.
Everyone has tried to get Dr. Michael Baden, but no one has managed
to until now."
Baden is the former chief medical examiner of New
York City and the author of "Dead Reckoning: The New Science
of Catching Killers." Baden is regularly called upon to participate
as investigator and expert witness in high-profile murder cases.
Past cases have included the murders of JonBenet Ramsey, Nicole
Brown Simpson and Sunny von Bulow.
Baden has been the subject of nine HBO specials, including
a "best of" show that highlights several of his most interesting
cases. Baden is a medical commentator for the Fox News Channel,
the "Catherine Crier Show" on Court TV and MSNBC.
Donald Bratton, a junior chemistry major from Ocean
Springs, attended last summer's seminar and said it was one of the
most unique experiences he's ever had.
"To have access to well-known forensic scientists--and
not just in a seminar-type setting, but on a recreational and personal
level--you're able to talk about things outside of work and see
how they are as people as well as scientists," Bratton said.
Bratton also toured ancient Mayan ruins while in port
in Mexico, allowing him to "bond with other students and professionals"
in his field.
Other forensic experts scheduled to attend the seminar
include Dr. Robert Barsley and Dr. Mary Case.
Barsley, the director of the Louisiana State University
School of Dentistry, will teach forensic odontology. Barsely also
serves as chair of the odontology section of the American Academy
of Forensic Science
Case, the chief medical examiner of four counties
in Missouri, will cover forensic pathology and pediatric forensic
medicine. A pathology professor at Saint Louis University Health
Sciences Center, Case performs more than 300 autopsies a year in
an area of eastern Missouri with a population of 1.5 million people.
Smith has worked in the forensic identification field
since 1972, including jobs with the Federal Bureau of Investigation
in Washington, D.C. He is a specialist in courtroom testimony instruction,
latent print examinations and crime scene examinations and has provided
expert witness testimony in more than 500 hundred cases.
For more information about the "Forensic Science
Seminar at Sea," call Dean Bertram at (601) 266-5124 or Linda
Bass at (601) 266-4189.