Online courses available through the Forensic Science Initiative at West Virginia University were recently honored by the North American Association of Summer Sessions (NAASS).

The leading-edge courses were recognized with the Creative and Innovative Program Award of Merit in the organizations noncredit program category. The NAASS is an association of deans and directors of college and university summer programs located throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

This is a wonderful recognition of our innovative efforts to deliver instruction to the nations forensic laboratories,said Max Houck, director of WVU s Forensic Science Initiative.Only about half of the forensic labs in the United States devote resources to training, so these free online classes are important to them.

The year-round courses were judged on uniqueness and benefit to students and the community.

The Forensic Science Initiative at WVU has created courses in Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems, Roles in Forensic Science, The Science of Fingerprints, Integrated Ballistic Identification System, Ethics in Forensic Science and Hair Evaluation for DNA Analysis.

The response to these courses has been amazing,said Robin Bowen, assistant director of the Forensic Science Initiative.We have people lining up to take them.

The online courses have been very well received and continue to expand in subject matter, Bowen said. Five additional courses are planned for 2008, including Forensic Photography and Introduction to Firearms.

For information about the courses, visit

The mission of the Forensic Science Initiative at WVU is to provide quality continuing education and resources to state and local employees in the forensic science community. For a nominal fee, the classes are also available to the general public.

The Forensic Science Initiative at WVU provides research and resources to the nations forensic science laboratories. The initiative currently has 15 faculty members performing research in the forensic sciences and more than 30 active projects.

The initiative involves nearly every academic unit at WVU , including five colleges or divisions and over a dozen departments. Working closely with WVU s nationally recognized Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program, the initiative exposes students to cutting-edge research experiences and up-to-the-minute technologies in forensic science.