FBI Cleveland Presents YSU Department of Physics, Astronomy, Geology, and Environmental Science with the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award — FBI

Each of the FBI’s 56 field offices have an opportunity to nominate an individual or organization to be considered for the prestigious award. While each field office can nominate one or several nominees, not every field office will have an honoree. Recipients are reviewed by the DCLA Selection Committee which is comprised of the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs personnel. Awardees are recognized for supporting the FBI’s mission and fostering the Bureau’s connections to those we serve.

The FBI nominated the department following a meeting during a crime scene excavation between Professor Dick and the FBI’s Evidence Response Team (ERT). The YSU team used Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) equipment, which is a geophysical locating method which detects changes in the soil and uses radio waves to capture images below the surface in a minimally invasive way. This is extremely important, as this technology will not compromise any valuable evidence that may be under the surface. GPR requires a high level of training and aptitude not available to the public at large and is a resource that is not readily available at the FBI Cleveland. Currently, FBI ERT only uses a physical technique to determine a potential search area. By utilizing GPR technology, FBI Cleveland ERT can reduce time and preserve resources that would normally be exerted on an evidence recovery dig. It was from that day forward that Professor Dick and his department offered their assistance, pro bono, in any other future investigations where this piece of equipment could be utilized.

Nearly a month later, after the department provided their initial support, the Cleveland Division received a tip related to a missing persons case. After assessing the information from this tip, it was immediately evident this was another opportunity for the Cleveland Division to collaborate with Professor Dick and his team using the GPR equipment. Professors and students from the department not only provided their equipment and expertise while on scene, but also this offered YSU students a challenging, hands-on research opportunity which is essential to their course of study. The department’s assistance that day was instrumental in supporting the investigation by providing the discovery of additional leads, saving countless FBI personnel hours and exposing geological information that would have otherwise been concealed.

The department has provided consultation and collaboration on at least three active violent crime cases for the Cleveland Division, and their reach has spanned surrounding communities and law enforcement agencies.

“This is an important award for YSU, the College of STEM, and the Department of Physics, Astronomy, Geology and Environmental Science. The academic mission of the geology program is focused on providing its students with exciting real-world applications of geology. Dr. Tom Jordan and Dr. Jeff Dick provide a special combination of geological industry experience and a commitment to high-quality education. Students pursuing the BS Applied Geology have many opportunities within their coursework to engage in field investigations that make use of a wide variety of modern geophysical tools including ground penetrating radar, electromagnetic induction, magnetometry, and gradiometry to name a few.”

“I am very pleased YSU has received this award in recognition of our faculty’s expertise and student’s enthusiasm assisting law enforcement with these most interesting cases. YSU has recently compiled an impressive collection of really cool, state-of-the-art near surface geophysical devices and data processing software that are especially well suited for forensic investigations. Dr. Dick and I look forward to providing our expertise and using these neat geophysical devices for future work with the FBI and through our collaborative research effort at the YSU clandestine grave project site hope to provide law enforcement with supplemental methods and training to help ensure continued successes in their future investigative work.”

The Department of Physics, Astronomy, Geology and Environmental Sciences at Youngstown State University makes it their mission to provide high quality educational experience for its majors by involving students in significant research activities. By doing so, they work to establish connections between the public, scientific community, and the University through outreach programs. The department has met and exceeded this mission and has proven to be an extremely valuable asset to the Cleveland Division and the law enforcement community.


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