Tyler Counsil
Dr. Tyler Counsil.

Dr. Counsil Tapped to Advance Tech’s Forensic Science Program

It’s safe to say Tyler Counsil is a firm believer in the maxim “make hay while the sun shines.”

  • At 34 years of age, Counsil already has his doctorate – in Biology, achieved in 2011 from Ball State University.
  • From 2012 to 2016, he was the head of Oakland City (Indiana) University’s criminal justice department.
  • He was a forensic scientist for nearly two years with the Indiana State Police Biology Unit in Evansville where he examined evidence for the presence of body fluids that could be used for potential DNA profile development.
  • Since arriving in Fort Wayne in August 2017, he’s joined the board for the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne’s Youth Service Bureau and he volunteers at Science Central. He has maintained his role as a reviewer for both the Journal of Dairy Science and the Journal of Food Protection, and as an editorial board member for Fine Focus, an undergraduate research journal.
  • On a personal level, he’s been married to the love of his life, Jenilee, since 2009. Together, they have welcomed five children into the world, including a set of twins.
  • And in a rare spare moment, you might find him watching a horror movie, lifting weights, taking a run or playing a video game.

Simply put, Dr. Counsil gets after it.

That’s why Dominic Lombardo hired him to build a forensics program within Indiana Tech’s Center for Criminal Justice in August 2017.

“Based on his previous experience, his knowledge of the subject and his drive, Tyler is a perfect fit to take our university into the realm of forensic science,” said Lombardo, who is the director of the Center for Criminal Justice. “He’s doing an outstanding job for us. His ideas never stop and he’s going to help us take our CJ program to the next level.”

That next level includes the addition of a bachelor’s degree in forensic science. The program is still in its planning stages, but it is on the horizon. And, Dr. Counsil is preparing for it.

“I received a Lilly Grant to acquire various pieces of lab equipment that will help improve the curriculum in my current CJ 3620 Forensic Science class and embolden the path for other forensic biology-related courses,” Dr. Counsil said. “We are getting items such as pipettes for liquid dispensation, a thermal cycler for DNA amplification and an electrophoretic gel apparatus with imager so students can use old-school techniques to develop DNA profiles in our engagement-driven lab activities.”

Long term, Dr. Counsil’s goal is to build a program that develops productive, science-savvy students who seek gainful employment in the field of forensic science through the successful completion of a science-oriented, ethically-rigorous curriculum.

“This program won’t be targeting those who are ‘casual fans’ of the media depictions of forensics. Instead, we are looking for students who are seeking biology-driven education that will lead them to a fulfilling career in analyzing forensic evidence and testifying to their findings in a court of law,” Dr. Counsil said. “Shows such as CSI or NCIS are highly dramatized to get viewership. They create a phenomenon known as the ‘CSI Effect,’ whereby folks think that what’s popularized on a fictitious 60-minute show is, in fact, reality. Our program will break down the walls of that incorrect characterization and introduce students to some of the real science behind forensic biology and the methods used to help catch criminals in the real world.

While building a robust, biology-focused forensics program involving DNA analysis is Dr. Counsil’s priority for institution, he is working on a second forensically relevant venture called child advocacy studies, or CAST. The program will be designed to help criminal justice students, as well as students in other disciplines, identify child maltreatment and get victims the help they need.

“So many professional areas of employment are exposed to child maltreatment and the coursework I’m developing will help our students, in their professional careers, expose that maltreatment and help those in need rather than missing an opportunity to stop the victimization,” Dr. Counsil said. “In fact, I am attending a conference in October to augment my training in forensic child interviewing, and I hope return with a certification that will allow me to help local advocacy centers and better educate our students on forensic child interviewing.”

You can keep tabs on the development of new degree programs within our university by checking out the news feed on the home page of IndianaTech.edu.

You can read more from Dr. Counsil’s interview with Indiana Tech Magazine.

Tech Talks to Tackle the Opioid Crisis

This year’s Tech Talks series will shed light on the opioid crisis that plagues the United States.

A collaboration of Indiana Tech’s College of Arts and Sciences and its Office of Student Affairs, Tech Talks was created in 2017 to promote active awareness about important issues of social justice around the globe. Free events are presented throughout the academic year to reinforce the central theme for students, faculty, staff and members of the community.

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency because of the widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids. The previous year, HHS reported that 42,249 people died from overdosing on opioids and the opioid epidemic had cost the country $504 billion.

“This is a critical social issue, one that affects a wide range of people, and we feel it will resonate with our students and our community,” said associate professor of English and coordinator of the Tech Talks planning team, Cortney Robbins. “Like with all Tech Talks topics, we hope students see how this social issue may affect them in their future careers and how it affects society as a whole.”

Fall schedule for 2018-19 Tech Talks events

The Opioid Recovery Experience

Kelly Kessens, director of the Substance Abuse and Chemical Dependency Program at Phoenix Associates Counseling Center in Fort Wayne

Tuesday, Sept. 11
7 p.m., Multi-Flex Theater

The Justice System & the Opioid Crisis

Dr. Deborah McMahon, Allen County Health Commissioner; Captain Kevin Hunter, Fort Wayne Police Department Vice and Narcotics Division; and others

Wednesday, Oct. 3
7 p.m., Multi-Flex Theater

The Opioid Crisis and Work

Dr. Joshua Long, interim director of Indiana Tech’s Ph.D. in Global Leadership program; Katie Parrish, assistant professor of special education; Joseph Warning, assistant professor of exercise science; Dr. Justin Boyce, professor of psychology; and Bonnie Wilkins, director of health information management

Tuesday, Oct. 23

12:30 p.m., Multi-Flex Theater

Narcan and First Responders—Justin Phillips and Aaron’s Law

Thursday, Nov. 8
7 p.m., Multi-Flex Theater

Showing of the film Heroin(e)

Thursday, Nov. 15
12:30 p.m., Multi-Flex Theater; 7 p.m., Magee-O’Connor Theater

Robinson and 12 Students Attend Conference in KC

Associate professor of recreation therapy, Beth Robinson, took 12 students to April’s Midwest Symposium on Therapeutic Recreation and Adapted Physical Activity in Kansas City, Missouri.

Symposium sessions discussed interventions with geriatric clients; people with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, developmental disabilities and mental health issues; and Wounded Warriors. There were also sessions on research in the field, self-care for those working in the helping fields, how to prepare for your certification exam and how to maintain your certification.

In addition to learning in sessions, this opportunity gave students a chance to meet people in the field and make connections that could result in internship placements or jobs.

Students who attended were seniors Blaque Curell, Anna Gorman, Izzy Horst, DeAnn Kauffman, Noah Meeks, Kirklan Ziambao. Other attendees—Alex Cruz, Hannah Glenn, Aleesha Goodwin, Jasmine Grice, Haley Merz, AJ Smith and Kara Yoquelet—graduated in May.

Girls rescued from human trafficing holding hands
Seven former child sex slaves celebrate their freedom at a Destiny Rescue education center.

Lombardo Travels with Destiny Rescue to Rescue Exploited Children

For 13 days in June, Dominic Lombardo, associate professor and director of Indiana Tech’s Center for Criminal Justice, was in Cambodia and Thailand with Destiny Rescue, an internationally-recognized Christian non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing children trapped in the sex trade. During his time there, he and the group collaborated to rescue more than a dozen girls.

“I was shocked at how intensely this experience has affected me, emotionally,” Lombardo said.

“I felt helpless at times: there is so much work to do, so many lives affected, so few resources. I shed many tears during this experience: tears of sadness, for obvious reasons, and tears of joy, watching rescued girls laugh and smile as they work to regain normality in their lives. And, I feel an overwhelming sense of thankfulness and respect for the people who work to carry out the mission of Destiny Rescue. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with them.

Lombardo, a former officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, is returning in December, at the request of Destiny Rescue, to provide training to its representatives in country.

You can read more about Dominic’s June experiences at academics.indianatech.edu/dominicsjourney.

Writing Students, Profs Explore American Writer’s Museum

Professor of English, Susan McGrade; associate professor of English, Steve Malloris; and Robbins took their American Writers, African American Literature and Women and Literature classes to the American Writer’s Museum in Chicago in April. The group capped its experience with an architecture and history boat tour.