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James Y. Tong
245 Clippinger Laboratories
740-517-8472
740-593-0148 (Fax)
tong@ohio.edu

Chair, Forensic Chemistry Advisory Committee
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin

Forensic Chemistry

The history of the program as told by Dr. James Tong:

I started the BS in Forensic Chemistry Program in 1976. At the end of the Vietnam War, there was a national repugnance against chemistry because of the use of many nasty chemicals (chemicals that caused fire, defoliant, and others), the chemistry enrollment dropped precipitously nationwide. The Dean of A&S at the time was a chemist. He told the chemistry department to recruit some new students.

I went to visit many labs and companies in Ohio to see if there were potential jobs that required chemical training. I didn't find any until I went to visit the crime labs. The crime lab folks told me that when they hire a regular chemist, they have to train them for about 2 years before they can work on real cases, so why don't I start a forensic chemistry program that would save them a lot of work? That's how and why I started the BSFC program.

I spent a summer "interning" in several forensic labs in the Columbus area. They were friendly and taught me many things I need to teach to our students. I became the only one who was not a director of a forensic lab to participate in the meetings of the crime lab directors. The crime labs in Ohio played a key role in the success of our BSFC program by accepting our students as interns during the summer between their junior and senior years. Many of our alumni had their first job in a crime lab in Ohio and many have become the head of the lab.