Applied Forensic Sciences Bachelor of Science
The Mercyhurst University Department of Applied Forensic Sciences offers a multi-disciplinary undergraduate major dedicated to educating students in matters related to science, forensic science, society and the law. Students receive a solid natural science education, bolstered by the thematic forensic science courses. The program advances the student’s knowledge of science-based forensic fields of study and advocates critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Classroom learning is strengthened by strong, hands-on components of many courses. The Department of Applied Forensic Sciences stresses the importance of reasonable and ethical behavior in regard to the field of forensic science to all members of the department: faculty, staff and students. The development of the undergraduate Applied Forensic Sciences Program represents the first truly multidisciplinary major at Mercyhurst that incorporates the major natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics) and mathematics within the core curriculum. The program includes four concentrations: Forensic Anthropology Criminalistics/ Forensic Biology Forensic Chemistry Investigative Forensics The Mercyhurst core curriculum is enhanced by these four specialized concentrations which meet students' interests while reflecting the changing face of forensic science.
Dennis Dirkmaat, Ph.D., D.A.B.F.A
Director, Department of Applied Forensic Sciences, Master of Science in Anthropology: Forensic and Biological Anthropology Concentration, Forensic Anthropology Summer Short Course Programs
Dr. Dirkmaat is in charge of both the successful undergraduate program in Applied Forensic Sciences and the Masters of Science in Anthropology, Forensic and Biological Anthropology Concentration considered one of the top master's program in the discipline in North America. He is Professor of Anthropology and teaches courses in physical anthropology, human skeletal biology, and forensic anthropology. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh (Ph.D., 1989), he is one of only two (Dr. Symes, is the other) board-certified forensic anthropologists in the state of
Pennsylvania, as well as one of two Anthropology Fellows of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in the state. Dr. Dirkmaat has conducted over 300 forensic anthropology cases for nearly 30 coroners, medical examiners and the state police in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The cases include nearly 50 field recoveries involving the processing of evidence from human death scenes, and the comprehensive forensic anthropological analysis of over 100 sets of human remains. He has published articles on the role of archaeology in forensic investigations, fatal fire scenes and mass fatalities. He participated as a primary forensic anthropologist during mass fatalities in Pittsburgh (USAir Flight 427 crash in 1994), the island of Guam (KAL Flight 801 crash in 1997), Rhode Island (Egypt Air 990 crash in 1999) and is currently a member of the national Disaster Mortuary
Operational Response Team. In September 2001, he served as the primary scientific advisor to Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller during the recovery and identification of victims of United Flight 93. In addition, he has served as a consultant for international companies involved in recovery and identification of victims of plane crashes from around the world including Kenya and Angola (with the United Nations). Dr. Dirkmaat has presented over 70 lectures and papers discussing forensic investigation and anthropology at numerous regional, national and international meetings.
Reprints available upon request
(*) With graduate students
Overbury RS, LL Cabo, DC Dirkmaat and SA Symes (in press): Asymmetry of the Os Pubis: Implications for the Suchey-Brooks Method. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 8pp (*)
Dirkmaat, DC, LL Cabo, SD Ousley, and SA Symes (2008). New Perspectives in Forensic Anthropology. Yearbook Phys. Anthrop. 51: 33-52.
Dr. Garvin began her undergraduate career at the University of Florida as a Zoology major, but quickly realized that the evolutionary principles being taught in her zoology courses could also be applied to humans. Fascinated by this concept, she added a second degree and began her exploration into biological anthropology. She also began volunteering at the University of Florida C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory, where she was first exposed to the basics of skeletal identification, processing, and analysis. Upon graduation with her dual degree in Zoology and Anthropology, Dr. Garvin began pursuing a Master’s degree in Biological and Forensic Anthropology at Mercyhurst College under the guidance of Dr. Dirkmaat and Dr. Symes. Granted a graduate assistantship position, the Mercyhurst program provided her with invaluable experiences both in conducting casework and research, as well as in teaching courses. Through these experiences she discovered her passion for teaching, and after completing the Master’s program in 2007 she began pursuing a PhD in Functional Anatomy and Evolution at Johns Hopkins University. She gained additional teaching experience by providing Gross Anatomy instruction to undergraduate, graduate, and medical students, while concurrently continuing research in Physical Anthropology under the supervision of Dr. Christopher Ruff. Dr. Garvin completed the PhD program in the summer of 2012 by successfully defending her dissertation on “The Effects of Living Conditions on Human Cranial and Postcranial Sexual Dimorphism." Dr. Garvin joined Mercyhurst University in the Fall of 2012 as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology. Her roles within the department include teaching courses and mentoring students at the undergraduate and graduate level in the field of Biological and Forensic Anthropology. She has acted as the primary advisor in over 15 student theses (graduate and undergraduate) and has a number of student co-authored presentations and publications. She continues to participate in the numerous forensic cases received by the Applied Forensic Science department and she plans on applying for board certification in the next few years. While her primary research interest is using 3D morphometrics to better understand sexual dimorphism and skeletal variation observed across modern human populations, she has also conducted research on human skeletal aging and recently was involved in high profile paleoanthropological research conducted on a new species of hominin fossils discovered in South Africa, Homo naledi.
Dr. Altes is an incoming postdoc with the Applied Forensic Sciences program at Mercyhurst University. She teaches courses in skeletal biology and forensic anthropology. She has analyzed and written case reports for 46 forensic anthropology cases through the C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory at the University of Florida, where she earned her PhD in Anthropology in 2016.
Luis Cabo-Perez, M.S.
Director, Forensic and Bioarchaeology Laboratory, Director, Graduate Student Research, Department of Applied Forensic Sciences
Mr. Cabo received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, with a specialization in Zoology, from the University of Oviedo (Asturias, Spain). He also earned his Master’s degree in Biology, in addition to receiving his National Pedagogy and Teaching Certificate, from the University of Oviedo. His positions as a researcher in the departments of Biology and Geology of that university provided Mr. Cabo with a vast amount of experience and knowledge in the fields of biology, paleoanthropology, archaeology and geology. He has participated in over two dozen archaeological and paleontological field and laboratory projects, and currently coordinates paleoenvironmental research at Chao Samartin Hillfort . This archaeological site is located at Grandas de Salime, in the Principality of Asturias (Northern Spain) and contains occupation levels from the Bronze Age through the Early Roman Imperial (3000-1800 BP), and a Early Medieval Necropolis (1100-1200 BP).
Mr. Cabo began his career at Mercyhurst participating in the Summer Forensic Anthropology Short Courses, a series of hands-on forensic anthropology training sessions offered annually at the college. Since joining the Mercyhurst staff in 2003, Mr.Cabo, the Director of the Forensic and Bioarchaeology Laboratory, has assisted in the recovery and analysis of more than 200 forensic cases. He currently also serves as the main graduate student research advisor. His knowledge of evolutionary biology, zoology and physical anthropology, as well as his experience in archaeology and paleontology, have proven invaluable to the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute.
Specialties: Human Evolution, Biological Anthropology, Statistics, Taphonomy, Zooarchaeology
Reprints available upon request
(*) With graduate students
Overbury RS, LL Cabo, DC Dirkmaat and SA Symes (2009): Asymmetry of the Os Pubis: Implications for the Suchey-Brooks Method. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 139(2): 261-268. (*)
Dirkmaat, DC, LL Cabo, SD Ousley, and SA Symes (2008). New Perspectives in Forensic Anthropology. Yrbk. Phys. Anthropol. 51: 33-52.
Kemp BJ, MI Siegel, MA Judd, MP Mooney, and LL Cabo (2009): The Effects of Papain and EDTA on Bone in the Processing of Forensic Remains. Proc. Am. Ac. Forensic Sci. 15: 303-304.
Rainwater CW, and LL Cabo (2009): Body Condition as a Potential Indicator of Body Mass Outliers in Modern Human Populations. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 138 (S48): 216-217.
Beary MO, and LL Cabo (2008): Estimation of Bone Exposure Duration Through the Use of Spectrophotometric Analysis of Surface Bleaching and its Applications in Forensic Taphonomy. Proc. Am. Ac. Forensic Sci. 14: 315 (*)
Garvin HM and LL Cabo (2008): Morphological Variation in the Human Hyoid and its Relationship to Basicranial and Mandibular Morphology. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 135(S46): 101-102 (*)
Garvin HM, LL Cabo, KE Stull, and DC Dirkmaat (2008): A Practical Method for Determining Sex from Human Chest Plate Radiographs. Proc. Am. Ac. Forensic Sci. 14: 350 (*)
Kemp BJ, LL Cabo, JJ Matia, and DC Dirkmaat (2008): The Effectiveness of Papain in the Processing of Remains. Proc. Am. Ac. Forensic Sci. 14: 329 (*)
Paolello JM, and LL Cabo (2008): Elliptic Fourier Analysis of Vertebral Outlines for Victim Identification. Proc. Am. Ac. Forensic Sci. 14: 367 (*)
Passalacqua NV, LL Cabo and A Villa (2008): Current Bioarchaeological Investigations at the Castro de Chao Samartín, Asturias, Spain. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 135(S46): 168 (*)
Stull KE, K Frazee, and LL Cabo (2008): Accuracy of Infant Age Estimation Methods. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 135(S46): 202 (*)
Villa Valdés A, R Montes López, S Hevia González, NV Passalacqua, AC Wilson, and LL Cabo (2008): Avance sobre el estudio de la necrópolis medieval del Chao Samartín en Castro (Grandas de salime, Asturias). Territorio, Sociedad y Poder: Revista de Estudios Medievales 3: 57-84 (*)
Latham KE, LL Cabo, JJ Beach, and DC Dirkmaat (2007): Sources of Error in Genetic and Osteological Sex Determination: Lessons from Physical Anthropology. Proc. Am. Ac. Forensic Sci. 13: 338-339 (*)
Passalacqua NV, and LL Cabo (2007): Forensic Age-at-death Assessment: Multiple Methodologies Based on Four Techniques. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 132(S44): 184 (*)
Rainwater CW, LL Cabo, and SA Symes (2007): Body Mass Estimation and Personal Identification. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 132(S44): 194-195 (*)
Egocheaga JE., LL Cabo, L Rodríguez, MJ Sierra, and R Trabazo (2008): Memoria de Resultados (1999-2002) de los estudios paleoantropológicos de la muestra SDR-1994 de los fósiles del Hombre de Sidrón. In J. Camino (ed.) Excavaciones Arqueológicas en Asturias 1999-2002. Servicio de Publicaciones del Principado de Asturias, Oviedo, pp. 179-190
Requejo O, C Arca, L Arias, and LL Cabo (2008): Descubrimiento de la antigua Iglesia de S. Juan de Riomiera (Collanzo, Aller). In J. Camino (ed.) Excavaciones Arqueológicas en Asturias 1999-2002. Servicio de Publicaciones del Principado de Asturias, Oviedo, pp. 347-356
Requejo O, LL Cabo, and M Jiménez (2008): Necrópolis tardorromana de Paredes (Siero, Principado de Asturias). Materiales arqueológicos y aspectos tafonómicos. In J. Camino (ed.) Excavaciones Arqueológicas en Asturias 1999-2002. Servicio de Publicaciones del Principado de Asturias, Oviedo, pp. 311-315
Mr. Dennis Donovan ,
Mr. Donovan is an Adjunct Professor for the Criminalist section of the Department of Applied Forensic Sciences, where he teaches undergraduate courses in forensic science, criminalistics, and crime scene and death investigations. He has also recently been appointed as the Director of a newly created Investigative Forensics Major. The Major concentrates on combining key aspects of the Applied Forensic Sciences Major with Criminal Justice, giving students from both majors an opportunity to pursue careers in Law Enforcement with a Forensic Sciences background, or careers in Forensic Sciences, such as crime scene technicians and Medico-Legal Death investigators. Mr. Donovan has been affiliated with Mercyhurst University since 1991, when he began teaching at Mercyhurst North East Campus in the Municipal Police Academy, which later became part of the Mercyhurst North East Public Safety Institute. He worked as an instructor at the Academy until 2007. His career began in 1975 as a Trooper with the Pennsylvania State Police, where he developed an interest in criminal investigations and forensic investigations. He continued with this career path through a series of promotions and assignments where he worked as an investigator, a criminal investigation supervisor, a member of the Troop E Forensic Services Unit, Erie’s Criminal Investigation Section Supervisor, and a Criminal Investigation Unit Supervisor for Northwestern Pennsylvania. He retired from police work in January 2003 and was hired as an adjunct professor in the Department of Forensic Sciences at Mercyhurst University. Now Mr. Donovan teaches courses within the Department of Applied Forensic Sciences and in the Mercyhurst Criminal Justice Department where he has been tasked with developing several elective courses within the Criminalistics concentration. Furthermore, Mr. Donovan works with undergraduate Work-Studies Employees in the University and supervises Senior Theses and undergraduate research projects. During his career with the state police, Mr. Donovan was involved in hundreds of criminal investigations, including crime against property, such as burglary, arson, and various other property crimes. He was also responsible for investigating and eventually supervising dozens of high profile crimes against individuals, from robbery to sexual assault and homicide. He has extensive experience in the investigative and forensic aspects of police investigations and has collaborated with numerous police agencies across Pennsylvania, and various levels of local, state, and Federal law enforcement from across the country on copious investigations. In addition to his work in the police force and teaching, Mr. Donovan has lectured at various conferences such as the FBI Academy in Quantico Va., Rockland Co. NY Law Enforcement Association, Ohio Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Conference, and a multiple agency task force on school shooting incidents at the Arkansas State Policy Academy in Little Rock AR. He is also currently a regular lecturer at the Pennsylvania Coroner’s Continuing Education conference in Hershey PA.