TU students discover clues in cold case, get head start on careers in science

By Rebecca Kirkman on November 16, 2018

Towson University student organization led by professor Dana Kollmann helps police find 25 bones in Maryland state park.

On a crisp October day, members of the Forensic Science Student Organization (FSSO) walked arm-in-arm through Cunningham Falls State Park, methodically sweeping the ground for remains of an unidentified man discovered by a hunter in 2016.

Led by forensic science professor Dana Kollmann, the student group assisted Maryland Department of Natural Resources police and K-9 handlers from Delmarva Search and Rescue in recovering more than 25 bones, including a lower jaw and several teeth. The discoveries may assist in identifying the victim.

The experience was just one of many cases where police have called in FSSO for assistance with field searches. A search for two missing women brought Kollmann and her students to Tennessee in 2013. In 2010, the group helped bring closure to the family of a missing man in Vermont. Earlier this year, students assisted the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration with a cemetery relocation project.

More from The Towerlight: Students assist in cemetery relocation project

Members of the organization—mainly anthropology, criminal justice and forensic chemistry students—say the real-world experiences give them a leg up in a competitive job market.

“In five years, they won’t be students. They’ll be colleagues,” said Kollmann in an interview with WMAR-2 for its Maryland Mysteries series. “Baltimore City is just sucking up Towson students, Baltimore County crime lab is taking Towson students, because on their resume they don’t just say ‘I’ve studied forensics’—they’ve actually done it.”

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland.