Public Relations

Daily Pioneer News

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

UWP students attend gathering of forensic scientists

PLATTEVILLE - A group of seven University of Wisconsin-Platteville students and a recent graduate participated in poster sessions and oral presentations during the Midwest Association of Forensic Scientists' annual meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, recently.

The group was led by Charles Cornett, associate professor of chemistry and engineering physics and the department chair. The UWP students are: Larissa Larsen, Fort Atkinson; Kyle Vircks, Stetsonville; Sarah Whitman, Plymouth, Minn.; Vanessa Davis, Beaver Dam; Jenee Jacobs, Springbrook, Iowa; Amanda Selle, Embarrass, and Ashley Halligan, Ringwood, Ill. In addition, Laura Schweitzer, a May graduate from Two Rivers, traveled with the group and participated in the presentations.

Cornett said the conference was a great opportunity for students to get experience presenting their work and also to network with potential employers.

"The association is mostly personnel from regional and state crime labs - and that's where these students are going to look for jobs," he said. "It's a great chance to interface with practicing criminalists."

Students collaborated with Cornett on two oral presentations during the event. Both described collaborative work with the Wisconsin Crime Laboratory.

One oral presentation - "Building a better mouse trap for ignitable liquids: Fast GC meets hydrogen carrier gas" - included student input from Halligan, Selle, Vircks and Jacobs. A second talk - "Determination of heavy metals in whole blood using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometery: Dilution and microwave digestion compared" - included student input from Schweitzer.

Students also played a role in five poster presentations. All of those included collaboration with either the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory or the Florida Bureau of Forensic Fire and Explosives Analysis.

Larsen played a role in a poster, "Effects of climate on the transfer of gasoline residues."

Vircks and Davis presented a poster, "Thermal degredation product standards for laboratory comparison to gasoline and other ignitable liquids."

Whitman was involved in a poster, "Adhesives in fire debris matrices: From material to degradation product."

Selle, Jacobs and Halligan played a role in a poster, "Naphthalenes: Increased sensitivity in ignitable liquid analysis via SPME."

Halligan, Jacobs and Selle were involved with the poster, "Putting fast GC to the test in ignitable liquid analysis: An evaluation of standards and matrices."

Many of the projects that involved the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory were supported with federal grant money from the Midwest Forensics Research Center and the National Institute of Justice.

For more information on the UWP students' forensic science presentations, contact Cornett at (608) 342-1658 or

Contact: Charles Cornett, UWP chemistry and engineering physics, (608) 342-1658, Written by: Gary Achterberg, UWP Public Relations, (608) 342-1194,

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