West Virginia University’s Max Houck, a former FBI forensic specialist who helped investigate the aftermaths of Sept. 11 and the Branch Davidian standoff, has once again put his fingerprints on the profession.

Houck, who directs WVU ’s Forensic Science Initiative, has coauthored �€?Fundamentals of Forensic Science�€? �€an introductory textbook that takes in the whole scope of the field, including the biology, chemistry and hard-science principles that anchor any investigation.

He wrote the book with Dr. Jay Siegel, the director of the forensic science program at Indiana University-Purdue University, at Indianapolis .

In a world where �€?CSI�€?-styled television shows don’t always accurately depict the field, Houck says the book goes far beyond pop culture trappings of forensic science.

�€?We look at the �€~marquee components’like crime scene investigation, DNA analysis, things like that,�€? Houck said. �€?But we also get into pathology, entomology and anthropology �€those are the real elements that steer investigators.�€?
The book is also the first general overview textbook of forensic science to hit the shelves in almost 20 years, he said.

And that is �€?especially gratifying,�€? Houck said, since he’s also the current chairman of the national Forensic Science Educational Program Accreditation Commission.

Writing the book with Siegal was also a plus, he said.

�€?Jay’s my colleague but he was also my mentor when I was in graduate school at Michigan State ,�€? Houck said. �€?He has such high regard in the profession and it was an honor to write the book with him.�€?

Houck isn’t the first forensic science professional from WVU to put his name on the spine of a book. Two years ago, Dr. Suzanne Bell penned �€?Forensic Chemistry,�€? the first textbook of its kind to deal exclusively with that aspect of the field.