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Students training at the National Forensic Science Technology Center. (Photo: Courtesy of the NFSTC)

A major forensic partnership between two Florida institutions was announced Thursday, with promises of making a bigger impact beyond the Sunshine State.

Florida International University and the National Forensic Science Technology Center announced they would “join forces,” according to both agencies.

The NFSTC will be brought under the umbrella of FIU, they added. The university will get more diverse offerings, while the NFSTC will get a broader platform through the U.S., and beyond, they said.

“Together, we not only have an opportunity to broaden NFSTC’s services globally, but now our faculty and students will work with NFSTC and their partners to get their discoveries out of the lab and into the marketplace,” said Kenneth Furton, the provost of FIU.

Furton is an analytical chemist who founded the International Forensic Research Institute at FIU, which has published findings in some of the major forensic journals. (One particular study was the demonstration of secondary transfer of DNA through the use of fingerprint brushes, published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences and profiled in Forensic Magazine last year.) FIU is the only Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission-accredited university in Florida.

The NFSTC was founded in 1995 as a nonprofit by some members of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. Its training and other programs expanded dramatically in 1999 through the assistance of the National Institute of Justice. Since 2000, its offices have been located in Largo, Florida. Forensic Magazine profiled a program to train DNA analysts from Latin America earlier this year, which is supported by a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. Over its 22-year history, it has trained thousands of first responders, crime scene investigators and DNA analysts, said the center, which is the seventh-largest defense contractor in the Tampa Bay area.

Fingerprint training at the National Forensic Science Technology Center. (Photo: Courtesy of the NFSTC)

“FIU brings academic research and education, and we bring workforce training and technology evaluations as our key strengths,” said Michelle Chernicoff, an NFSTC spokeswoman, in a statement.

The NFSCT will remain in its current location in Largo, in west-central Florida. FIU is more than 250 miles miles south in Miami, about four hours by car.

“We are excited about what this will mean for our customers both current and future,” added Chernicoff.

Another Florida forensic institutions made a significant development announcement earlier this year. Erin Kimmerle and the University of South Florida held a press conference in February to announce the new Florida Forensic Institute for Research, Security and Tactical Training (FIRST) facility, to be built on a tract of land off U.S. Highway 41 near the Pasco County Jail.

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