There’s more to successful forensics than test tubes, DNA and fingerprints. If the lab where all that work is done is not run properly, then the science can become wasted and even irrelevant.

To help make sure that doesn’t happen, West Virginia University, home to one of the world’s leading and most comprehensive forensic programs, has conducted a Forensic Management Academy in Morgantown since 2007, graduating 93 crime lab directors, medical examiners and other forensic professionals from 77 agencies in 43 states and Puerto Rico.

The demand for the training has now reached a critical level, and WVU is taking the training on the road, most recently traveling to Little Rock, Ark., to train 19 professionals at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory. The program has also been delivered on site to the Forensic Sciences Division of the Maryland State Police and the Forensic Sciences Division of the Pennsylvania State Police. Requests for similar services have poured in from all over the U.S and Canada.

Click below to hear Martina Bison-Huckaby talk about the development of the Forensic Management Academy at WVU.

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“It’s a good problem to have,” said Martina Bison-Huckaby, director of the Center for Executive Education in the College of Business and Economics. “The program has really gained a great reputation. We are the only provider of this type of training and we are at the forefront of management training specifically for forensics professionals.”

The goal of the program is to train scientists and others in the forensics field about business management and leadership strategies. Some of the topics are more geared toward costs and budgeting while some focus on human resources skills such as team building, conflict management and project management.

“Managers of scientific laboratories are often promoted into leadership roles from within their organization because they are great scientists,” said Bison-Huckaby. “Most of them, however, have not received formal business training in their academic education. The program helps them in the transition into their leadership positions. In addition, because of the aging workforce, forensic science will have an exodus of experienced laboratory managers in the next several years, and training is increasingly more important.”

Click below to hear Bison-Huckaby describe the goals and benefits of the program, both to participants and to WVU.

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For participants, a program tailored specifically to meet the demands of the forensics industry has been crucial. Before making the trip to Arkansas, Bison-Huckaby distributed materials that included surveys to better prepare the participants and allow them to help shape the curriculum. WVU typically stays on site for five or six days and assigns a follow-up paper due six months after the course ends.

“You can go to a lot of institutions and get some of this, but this program comes across a little better because it features people involved in the forensics community,” said Kermit Channell, executive director of the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory and a 2007 graduate of the program. “(WVU) brings a lot to the table. They teach and discuss things that are directly related to what you’re doing on a daily basis.”

Along with WVU faculty, the program features guest lecturers including Dean M. Gialamas, the director of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Scientific Services Bureau. The presence of Gialamas, head of one of the world’s biggest forensics organizations, solidifies WVU’s reputation as a global leader in the field and provides unique insight for the participants.

“Not only is he experienced in field work but he can relate to things we go through as managers and supervisors,” said Cindy Moran, a quality assurance manager with the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory. “And as busy as he is, he’s still able to make a personal connection with employees.”

Click below to hear Bison-Huckaby talk about the academic components of forensics within WVU's College of Business and Economics.

[ Click to listen ]

Bison-Huckaby is deciding on the next steps for the program. Along with annual FMA training at WVU, she says the program will likely be presented once a semester off-site. She also wants to develop an advanced version of the program for participants who want more training and an on-line version.

For a full listing of other programs the Center offers, see:



CONTACT: Martina Bison-Huckaby, Center for Executive Education

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