Announcements & News

October 2012

Marshall University Forensic Science Center to host lecture for honors students on criminal behavior

Marshall University's College of Education and College of Science will conduct a special lecture, "Nature versus Nurture," sponsored by the Honors College for its students at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, at the Marshall University Forensic Science Center.

The lecture will cross-examine whether traits of human behavior are inherited or learned and whether humans may have genetic tendencies toward deviant or criminal behavior. Guest speakers Michael Farrell, Esq., and the Honorable Paul Farrell will talk about their experiences in the legal system from a criminal behavior perspective.

This presentation is part of a semester-long Honors course co-taught by Dr. Wendy C. Trzyna, associate professor of microbiology in the department of biological sciences in the College of Science and Dr. James Sottile, professor of educational psychology in the College of Education.

Throughout the course, Dr. Trzyna presents information from the Human Genome Project and discusses inherited traits while Dr. Sottile presents a different viewpoint based on his expertise in behavioral psychology and how traits are learned.

Trzyna said this course explores the contributions of genetics and environmental components to learning and motivation and other complex behavioral traits, such as aggression, intelligence, addiction, talents and many others. "The long standing debate of "nature vs. nurture" is even more relevant today as much more information has become available through the completion of the Human Genome Project," she said.

Undergraduate students from the Honors College and graduate students from the Forensic Science Master's Degree program will attend the event. Honors College students are from the following areas of study: business, engineering, computer science, biology, chemistry, dietetics, fine arts, education and exercise science.

Dr. Nicki LoCascio, interim dean of the Honors College, said it is the newest college at Marshall with nearly 600 students enrolled, and it is still growing. Admission to the college is by invitation only and is based on standardized test scores and grade point averages. The Honors College is not a degree-granting college so students are also enrolled in a degree-granting college for their major of study. Each honors student is required to take a minimum of two honors seminar courses that are interdisciplinary.

The "Nature versus Nurture" lecture is one in a series in the honors seminar course "Genetics and Learning." This semester students will also have the opportunity to isolate and test their own genomic DNA for a specific genotype related to athleticism.

Trzyna said it is important that students at Marshall see that there is a vast resource of knowledge and experience throughout the Huntington community. "We are extremely fortunate that some of these individuals are willing to give of their time for the education of our students," she said.

The Honorable Paul T. Farrell currently serves as Chief Judge of the 6th Judicial District. He was appointed to the bench in February 2011 by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin following a 33-year legal career including five years as a federal prosecutor, eight years as an assistant Cabell County prosecutor and 15 years as a civil defense attorney with the firm of Farrell, Farrell & Farrell, PLLC. During his career as a lawyer, he was recognized by the Best Lawyers in America in the field of medical malpractice defense.

Michael J. Farrell is a litigator who has devoted most of his career to the defense of claims against product manufacturers, health care providers and lawyers. His most prominent criminal defense trial involved former West Virginia Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr. He has served on West Virginia Higher Education Boards since 1998 and currently is completing his 10th year on the Marshall University Board of Governors. In 2005, he was the interim president of Marshall University.

He has been a frequent lecturer for continuing legal education programs presented to West Virginia judges, lawyers and other groups of professionals. In 2012, the Best Lawyers in America recognized him as one of the 10 best lawyers in West Virginia. Chambers USA, a London-based rating agency, and the International Who's Who of Product Liability Defense Firms, has accorded him comparable honors. He is an elected member of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers. He has published numerous articles in professional journals.

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