Who says Gil Grissom and Catherine Willows get to have all the fun?

Students in the Forensic and Investigative Science Program in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University are getting an opportunity to participate in real-life criminal investigations that go far beyond the fictionalized activities of the above-mentioned characters from the popular television show,C.S.I.

The students are taking part in 12-week internships at crime scene units and laboratories across the United States , said Dianna Griffin, who coordinates the internship program for WVU .

It’s a two-way venue, she said. Students get real-world experiencewhile alsopromoting WVU and its landmark forensic science program.

We are very fortunate to have such a good crop of �€~ambassadors’for our program,Griffin said.They are helping establish partnerships within the forensic science community, which is playing an important role in building this new degree program.

Griffin has visited more than 20 sites across the country where internships have been hosted for WVU forensic students in recent months. Each stop, she said, wasmore fascinating than the last.

At the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, students were introduced to federal laws and regulations related to explosives and arson cases.

Students placed in Medical Examiners’Offices across West Virginia , Ohio and Pennsylvania took part in the complex laboratory tests that come with the autopsies of crime victims.

At forensic investigation units in Texas , New York , New Jersey and Miami , WVU students assisted with crime scene investigations that were critical to solving cases.

WVU ’s students, said a host of police professionals across the country who worked with them during the internships, did themselves proud.

Courtney Westfall, a forensic student from Point Pleasant, caught the notice of her superiors in the Forensic Unit of the Garland , Texas , Police Department where she was placed, said John Mowry, a forensic investigator there.

Courtney proved to be the most professional of all the interns we have worked since we started our program,Mowry said.She’s a hard worker who is eager to learn the practical aspects of the Forensic Investigator position.

Self-starter Stephen Hokanson impressed his supervisiors in the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office in Cleveland , Ohio , where he took on detailed lab work on his own. (more)

Stephen tackled several complex tasks and saw them through from start to finish,Toxicology supervisor Eric Lavins said of the forensic student from Girard , Pa.I am sure that he’ll go far in the forensic science field.

Amanda Tranquillo, a forensic student from Fleetwood , Pa. , had her personal and professional maturity tested in the Violent Crimes Division of the U.S. Navy Criminal Investigative Service, in Washington , D.C.

She passed on both counts, Supervisory Special Agent John Marsh said.

Amanda’s maturity matches her skills,Marsh said of the student who reviewed multiple-death cases.She’s one of the top interns I have had the professional pleasure to work with.

WVU ’s summer internship program further complements the hands-on experience students enrolled in WVU ’s popular forensic and investigative science program already receive through real life scenarios at two on-campus crime scene houses and a new forensic garage.

Internships normally take place at the end of a student’s junior yearoutside of Morgantownfor six credit hours.

For information on the forensic science internship program, call Griffin at 304-293-2453. Her e-mail is Dianna.Griffin@mail.wvu.edu .