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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Forensic chemistry program ranks among top in nation

June 12, 2014
by Logan Kirkland, courtesy of The Daily Mississippian

Dr. Murrell Godfrey | Photo by Kevin

Dr. Murrell Godfrey | Photo by Kevin Bain/Communications

The University of Mississippi forensic chemistry program was recently ranked the 13th best program in the nation by

Murrell Godfrey, director of forensic chemistry and associate professor, said the forensics program specializes in preparing students for a job in criminal investigation or law enforcement, more specifically in crime scene investigation, as well as preparing them for pursuing a graduate degree in a number of fields.

“I was surprised to see that we were one of only three undergraduate programs listed in the top 15 by,” Godfrey said. ”It is always a humbling feeling whenever I see the forensic chemistry program listed among the best in the country.”

The UM program requires chemistry, criminal justice, biology and other courses along with a 10-week internship at a state or federal crime laboratory to provide hands-on experience.

“Our forensic chemistry program contains a demanding science-based curriculum that prepares our graduates for versatile careers in forensics laboratories including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Agency,” Godfrey said. “Our students have ongoing research and internship collaborations with the Mississippi State Crime Laboratory that help prepare our students for the ever-changing world of forensic science.”

The forensic chemistry program is one of only six programs in the country accredited by The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission through The American Academy of Forensic Science, Godfrey said. He also said the program is only one of only four accredited undergraduate programs in the South and the only one in Mississippi that offers a Bachelor of Science degree in forensic chemistry.

Godfrey said the  honor will help the program gain exposure and increase interest for prospective students.

“A large percentage of our forensic chemistry majors are nonresidents,” Godfrey said. “National recognition by and other outlets serve as tremendous recruiting tools that assist us in attracting the nation’s most talented students.”

Jackie Gledhill, senior forensic chemistry major, said forensic chemistry is not offered in the state of Georgia and because of the program’s rigorous classes and high expectations, she has had research opportunities in analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, forensic DNA and many more.

“The fact that the University of Mississippi’s forensic chemistry department is ranked 13th in the nation shows that our advisors and professors know exactly what and how to teach in order for us to successful,” Gledhill said.

Gledhill said the program has meetings a few times each semester for students to receive answers to any questions they have and for seniors to present their internship projects.

“This is an opportunity for the students to see where this major will take them once they get through the general classes,” Gledhill said.

Gledhill and senior forensic chemistry major Tamara King are participating in the same internship with the Mississippi State Crime Lab in Batesville, and Gledhill emphasized that the classes required helped with their success.

“I believe that our program is ranked so highly due to the amount of chemistry and lab classes that we are required to take,” King said. “These classes help us prepare for our internships and future jobs and set us apart from other forensic science majors.”

Godfrey said he is excited for those who helped make the program a success and is eager to see what is to come in the future.

“This is a tribute to the hard work and dedication my colleagues contribute to the program,” Godfrey said. “It also reflects the quality of student that matriculates through our rigorous curriculum.”