CSI Penn State: An Evening of Crime & Merriment with the DC Alumni Chapter

Sure, crime doesn’t pay. But when you have the chance to explore the Crime Museum after hours and to learn about DNA investigation from one of the top names in the business, it pays to attend. The folks from the spirited Metro Washington, DC Penn State Alumni Chapter knew it would be a crime to miss out and turned out in large numbers for the third “Research on the Road” event we’ve organized for and with them.

Chapter board members greet attendees in Crime Museum lobby.

More than 60 alumni chapter members of all ages and backgrounds joined in the evening’s activities, which kicked off with an interactive event at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment, aka The Crime Museum. Participants took a serial killer profiling quiz, explored the science of fingerprinting, got (temporary!) old school prison tattoos and found out what the images symbolized, and even swung a hammer into red paint to learn about blood spatter analysis techniques.

The "America's Most Wanted" studio at the Crime Museum
The “America’s Most Wanted” studio at the Crime Museum

Afterward, we moved the party next door to DC’s well-known Chophouse restaurant for a private reception and talk by Penn State’s own Jenifer Smith.  Jeni, a retired FBI special agent and DNA analyst, is a Penn State alumna herself as well as a former member of the Blue Band. After retiring from the FBI, she joined Penn State’s Forensic Science faculty in 2010. Jeni’s professional expertise is matched only by her warmth and humor. She led us through a fascinating look at the field of forensic science, the myths and realities of life as a crime scene investigator, and some memorable cases she helped crack—as well some unsolved mysteries. We also learned about the growth of Penn State’s Forensic Science Program within the Eberly College of Science (check out the Probing Question on the program’s home page!) and had a lively Q&A session with Jeni, who graciously stayed chatting with us long after the event.

Jenifer Smith had the crowd intently listening, laughing
and learning.

DC folks, you lived up to your reputation as one of the most vibrant groups of PSU alumni anywhere! Thanks for helping make the evening such a big success, packed with learning and fun.

Take a look at these additional photos for a peek at some of the evening’s highlights. Looking back, Research on the Road has shared great events centered around Penn State experts on political beliefs and the science of our taste buds. What’s next, guys? We’d love to bring more Research on the Road to our capital alumni in the ’13/’14 academic year!

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