Center for Wildlife Forensics and Conservation Studies (CFACS)

There is a rapidly evolving need for a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to the complex issues of environmental conservation and wildlife protection. In the face of increasing habitat destruction due to global climate change, increased human population expansion, and intensified poaching pressure around the world, domestic and international wildlife forensic science efforts increasingly overlap with those of ecologists and conservationists. Wildlife exploitation and trans-national wildlife trafficking have evolved into multi-billion dollar enterprises as more and more clandestine groups use wildlife to fund military operations and organized crime activities around the globe. Additionally, threats from bioterrorism and emerging zoonotic diseases frequently have a profound wildlife nexus.

The University of Central Oklahoma is in a unique position to address these issues due to the diverse group of experts already on its faculty, who have a wide array of expertise in disciplines ranging from wildlife biology, ecology, genetics, forensic science, criminal justice, and others. The existing cooperative, multi-disciplinary relationship between the W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute (FSI) and the College of Mathematics and Sciences (CMS) provides a highly successful, cost effective template for collaborative research, education, and service in this arena.

Goals

  • Collaboration with local, state, and national agencies to assess needs in the field and promote research to address those needs
  • Liaison with local and national companies to create new, and improve existing forensic techniques and equipment related to wildlife forensic investigations
  • Ethical researchers motivated to confront the complex issues created by the interactions of  modern society and nature
  • Hypothesis driven research that promotes problem-solving, technical, and analytical skills
  • Enhancement of conservation education at both the university and community levels
  • Recruitment and retention of UCO undergraduate and graduate students through consolidated opportunities in ecology, environmental conservation, field biology and wildlife forensic sciences
  • Support for existing STEM, STLR, and Transformative Learning initiatives
  • Community outreach

CFACS White Paper

Members

Dr. Wayne Lord, W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute, Co-Director (Wildlife Forensic Science, Protection and Enforcement)

Dr. Chad King, Department of Biology, Co-Director (Conservation and Ecology)

Dr. Paul Stone, Department of Biology

Dr. Chris Butler, Department of Biology

Dr. Vicki Jackson, Department of Biology

Dr. Michelle Haynie, Department of Biology

Dr. James Creecy, W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute

Ms. Kama King, W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute

Dr. Brittany Bannish, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Dr. Sean Laverty, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Dr. Allyson Fenwick, Department of Biology

Dr. David Bass, Department of Biology

Dr. Troy Baird, Department of Biology

Ms. Marie Stone, Department of Biology

Ms. Lynda Loucks, Department of Biology

Future Contributing Members

C-FACS membership will be granted to faculty members who have an interest in interdisciplinary approaches to natural resources conservation and wildlife forensics research, education, and practice. They may have an active project or interest in beginning a new project. They must demonstrate a willingness to participate in cooperative, multi-disciplinary research and grant writing, a strong desire to collaborate with and mentor undergraduate and graduate students, a commitment to forming productive academic, governmental, and private sector partnerships, a history of publishing cooperative research, and a willingness to contribute information to outside agencies to improve conservation and forensic efforts.

Collaborating Scientific, Agency, and Organizational Partners

USFWS National Forensic Science Laboratory
USFWS Office of Law Enforcement
USFWS Laws, Treaties, and Regulations
NOAA Office of Law Enforcement
NOAA Fisheries Forensic Science Center
California Fish and Wildlife Forensic Laboratory
Wyoming Fish and Game Conservation
Society for Wildlife Forensic Science (SWFS)
North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association
Shoals Marine Laboratory Wildlife Forensics
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
Interpol Wildlife and Environmental Crimes
Oklahoma State University Avian, Exotics and Zoo Medicine
Tufts University Wildlife Medicine
DNA Solutions Inc. of Oklahoma Animal Services
Oklahoma City Zoo

Field Course and Internship Opportunities

Shoals Marine Laboratory 2017 Undergraduate Field Course
Shoals Marine Laboratory 2017 Field Wildlife Forensic Science Class (FRSC 4943)