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Breakfast Features Internationally Known Forensic Scientist

Penn State York will hosts it first “Wake up with a ROAR” program Thursday, Oct. 16, at 7 a.m. featuring Robert C. Shaler, Ph.D., Sc.D., professor in the biochemistry and molecular biology department and the director of the forensic science program at Penn State.  The breakfast, in the Conference Center of the Main Classroom Building, is an opportunity for alumni, students, and friends of Penn State to network and hear from Shaler, an internationally-known forensic scientist.  This program is sponsored, in part, by a grant obtained by the Penn State Alumni Association, York County Chapter.

Prior to coming to Penn State, Shaler supervised the massive DNA testing effort to identify thousands of victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.  He designed, organized, and implemented the DNA testing strategy that became the cornerstone for the majority of the 1,592 identified victims.  After the effort to identify the WTC victims paused, he accepted a professorship at Penn State.

Most recently, the Investigations Discovery Channel aired “Crime Science University “ which is based on Shaler’s forensic science and crime scene investigation program at Penn State, one of the University’s most popular programs.

Shaler earned a doctoral degree in biochemistry from Penn State in 1968.  He worked at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine before joining Pitt's Pharmacy School faculty in the Medicinal Chemistry Department. About this same time, he began taking scientific sleuthing courses in the Department of Chemistry, a program taught by the scientific staff at the Pittsburgh Crime Laboratory.

Working as a criminalist at the Pittsburgh Crime Laboratory and also as a professor of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, he taught forensic chemistry while delving into the world of forensic science, performing drug analyses, crime scene investigations, court testimony, and administrating a National Institute of Justice grant to study the individualization of bloodstain evidence. The latter led him to The Aerospace Corporation, where he managed four National Institute of Justice forensic science contracts, one of which resulted in the development of a bloodstain analysis system, the defacto standard in forensic laboratories until the early 1990's.

The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner beckoned in 1978. He directed the forensic serology laboratory and performed and directed forensic biological analyses in all New York City homicide investigations. In 1986, he left New York City to join The Lifecodes Corporation, the nation's first forensic DNA laboratory.

In 1990, he returned to the medical examiner's office to establish the largest forensic biology department in the U.S. The laboratory embarked on an expansion program in 1997 that raised its scientific staff of nine to 110.

Tickets for the breakfast are free to Penn State York students and $10 to alumni and friends of Penn State.  Penn State York students need to reserve their space by contacting Iona Colon at (717) 718-6781 or iona@psu.edu.  Tickets to the general public are also available through Conlon.  Checks should be made payable to Penn State York and sent to Conlon’s attention at Penn State York, 1031 Edgecomb Ave., York, PA  17403.
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