Applied Forensic Sciences Facilities

Applied Forensic Sciences Classroom

The main classroom for the Applied Forensic Sciences department is located in Zurn Hall, Room 119.  While primarily used as a lecture room, the classroom is also used by faculty and graduate students for research and casework and is often the location of special presentations given by guest lecturers. 

Common courses hosted in Zurn 119 include Paleoanthropology, Forensic Archaeology, and other graduate and undergraduate forensic anthropology courses. The classroom is also the primary location for the annual summer short courses in forensic anthropology that welcome students, faculty, and law enforcement professionals from national and international institutions. 

Forensic Anthropology Processing Lab

The Hirtzel Laboratory Extension, referred to as the Forensic Anthropology Wet Lab, is a secure facility located on Mercyhurst's Main Campus. 

With the completion of the Hirtzel Forensic Anthropology Laboratory at the Mercyhurst North East Campus, the Wet Lab on Main Campus is primarily utilized for processing specimens for the zooarchaeology collection housed in the Comparative Osteological Collection Laboratory.

Vertebrate faunal remains are documented, macerated (soft tissue removed), and cleaned in this laboratory. This is where undergraduate students and work-study students receive most of their experience and training in processing. The Wet Lab is also used for undergraduate research, with assistance from and/or in collaboration with graduate students and faculty.

In addition to processing zooarchaeology specimens, many graduate and undergraduate students use the Wet Lab to take overall, group, and individual photos for cases. The Wet Lab also stores all necessary supplies for labeling and casting which are needed for classifying and identifying skeletal elements that are housed in Evidence Lock-Up. Due to the sensitive nature of materials processed in the Wet Lab, this room is kept locked at all times and a daily activities log is maintained. 

Forensic case and human remains processing is conducted at the Hirtzel Forensic Anthropology Laboratory at the JLM Center at the Mercyhurst  North East Campus, approximately 15 miles away.

Briggs Annex Graduate House

The Briggs Annex Graduate House, commonly known as the Annex, is a building that accommodates offices for all Forensic Anthropology graduate students and Professor Luis Cabo (Health and Safety Manager and Director of Graduate Student Research). Graduate students and faculty have 24/7 key access to this facility. Each graduate student maintains a desk in the Annex, which can be used for studying or for TA office hours. The Annex also maintains a kitchenette for graduate student use.

Additionally, the Annex contains a technology lab providing students access to software such as Adobe Photoshop and ArcGIS, as well as a large desktop space and 3D scanners available for research and casework. 

All forensic archaeological excavation and recovery equipment can be found in the shed adjacent to the Annex.

Ted A. Rathbun Osteology Laboratory

The Ted A. Rathbun Osteology Laboratory, also known as the Bone Lab, serves the purpose of providing a smaller teaching facility (capacity of 12-15 students) for hands-on intensive courses, such as Fragmentary Human Osteology and Skeletal Trauma Analysis. It is also utilized as a storage resource facility for the human and animal osteological collections in the possession of the Department of Applied Forensic Sciences.

The Bone Lab includes a wall with drawers from floor-to-ceiling containing our comparative collections of human remains, large vertebrate skeletons, vertebrate faunal collections, fossil hominid casts, and donated human skeletal remains. This laboratory is equipped with osteometric devices including digital sliding and spreading callipers, osteometric boards, and FORDISC 3.0, an interactive computer program used by Forensic Anthropologists for biological profiling. In addition, this laboratory is home to an extensive range of osteological and anthropological literature, available to faculty and students as references, research, and study materials. 

Hirtzel Forensic Anthropology Laboratory, North East

In 2009, Mercyhurst University acquired a building on the Mercyhurst North East campus, allocating a large space for the Department of Applied Forensic Sciences to house one of the most well-equipped facilities offered by a forensic anthropology program. The Hirtzel Forensic Anthropology Laboratory includes a secure processing laboratory with an autopsy suite, state-of-the-art autopsy tools and benches, a digital x-ray machine, a classroom, and a walk-in cooler for the storage of human remains. 

Criminalistics Lab

The Criminalistics Laboratory, also called the Crim Lab, is located in Zurn Hall, room 64B. This versatile lab, designed to look like a living room in a house, is used to set up mock crime scenes where students practice blood spatter analysis, microscopic comparison of ballistic evidence, fingerprinting, and crime scene sketching. The Crim Lab can be set up to accommodate any topic that is discussed in the Introduction to Forensic Science and Criminalistics classes.
The Crim Lab doubles as an office for Professor Dennis Donovan, a retired Pennsylvania State Police Sergeant, and as a main workspace for the department's work-study students. 

Mercyhurst Forensic Anthropology Van

The Department of Applied Forensic Sciences has a 15-passenger van used for transporting students, faculty, and equipment to case recoveries and the North East Hirtzel Forensic Anthropology Laboratory. The van is kept at the Briggs Annex Graduate House.