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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M nursing prof to serve on Forensic Science Commission

Photo by Provided by Texas A&M University Health Science Center

Professor Nancy Downing, from the College of Nursing, was appointed to the Forensic Science Commission.

Nancy Downing, a professor at the Texas A&M College of Nursing, was appointed at the end of November to serve on the Texas Forensics Science Commission by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
The commission, first founded in 2005, is designed to protect forensic integrity in the state of Texas and ensure that all criminal forensic evidence used in a court of law is as scientifically up to date as possible, according to its website.
Downing will serve to offer the perspective of the field of forensic nursing to the commission.
Downing said the nine board members primarily conduct investigations of allegations of professional negligence or misconduct by the crime lab.
“We maintain a reporting system to report these allegations,” Downing said. “We’re going to be starting a licensing program for forensic analysts, so people working in the crime labs in the state of Texas will have to undergo a licensure.”
The commission always seeks the perspective of a Texas A&M professor in the field of forensics, Downing said.
“The commission contains nine members, and there is always an appointee from Texas A&M,” Downing said. “The appointee from A&M is a forensic scientist, so somebody who understands the research behind forensic science methods that are used to process and adjudicate pending allegations of crimes.”
Dan Sheridan, a fellow professor at the A&M College of Nursing, said a forensic nurse has been needed on the forensic commission for some time.
“I believe this is the first time there has ever been a nurse scientist who has been appointed,” Sheridan said. “I think it’s wonderful and probably a little overdue. One of the things I love about Dr. Downing, and one of the reasons we brought her here, is her commitment to making sure that our forensic nursing practice is based on science … and not just on what we think works.”
According to Downing, the field of forensic nursing combines aspects of health care and justice.
“[Forensic nurses] take care of patients who have been victims of crimes,” Downing said. “They can act as investigators, or they can take care of patients who have been sexually assaulted, patients who are victims of intimate-partner or domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, elder abuse or neglect. Those sorts of interpersonal violence and physical assaults.”
Sharon Wilkerson, dean of the College of Nursing, said Downing has done a lot of work with the college and in the field of nursing, and that her hard work will continue to have an impact.
“She is developing courses for a certificate in forensic science and in our Master’s Degree in Nursing Forensics,” Wilkerson said. “And then she is on call, so if we have victims who come into the hospitals and need someone to come she is on call for that … She is extremely busy, she is a hard worker and an extremely high-energy person. She is very personable, and responds to students and responds to other faculty.”
Downing will begin her service on the commission this semester. The first commission meeting will be Feb. 10 in Austin.

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