Announcements & News

January 5, 2016

Forensic Science Graduate Program student receives first scholarship award for the Paul H. and Dixie O. Nicely Scholarship

Kaitlin Huffman

Forensic Science graduate student Kaitlin Huffman of Mt. Nebo, West Virginia, is the first recipient of the Paul H. and Dixie O. Nicely Scholarship Award.

Founded by Tamela J. White, Esq., in honor of her parents, the academic scholarship benefits West Virginia and metro-area students who are accepted into the master’s degree program and demonstrate high academic performance and financial need during their undergraduate education.

“The Marshall University Forensic Science Program is the national leader in forensic science graduate education,” White said. “Matters of national and state security ranging from anti-terrorism to victim rights to digital forensics all are within this program’s expertise. Dr. Fenger, Dr. Staton and the entire team of faculty and support staff is commended for the dedication and invaluable services provided. This scholarship is but one way that a community citizen can support the program and Marshall University.”

The academic scholarship funds may be used by the recipient for tuition, books, presentations and/or projects sponsored by Marshall’s Forensic Science Graduate Program.

Huffman said the scholarship will go a long way towards making graduate school more affordable.

“I am extremely grateful and thank Tammy White and the Nicely family for the support they have shown the forensic science program over the years, along with Dr. Fenger and all the other donors that made this scholarship possible,” she said.

Huffman earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry with minors in mathematics, biology and psychology from Concord University, in Athens, West Virginia, prior to entering the nationally acclaimed Master of Science in Forensic Science Program at Marshall University.

Forensic chemistry, DNA analysis, digital forensics and crime scene investigation are Huffman’s areas of emphasis in the program.

“I chose Marshall due to the fact that multiple areas of emphasis were available, and I could do as many as I wanted or as few,” she said. “I liked the idea of being able to take courses in each subject before deciding if I would pursue those paths, since I did not have to make a commitment to just one field prior to enrolling.”

Other factors that played a major role in Huffman’s decision to choose Marshall included its FEPAC (Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission) accreditation, the location in her home state of West Virginia and the successful performance of the program’s students on the Forensic Science Assessment Test.

In 2015, once again the Marshall University Forensic Science Graduate Program ranked number one in the country for its students receiving the highest overall test scores compared to other graduate programs participating in the Forensic Science Assessment Test, a national assessment test offered each year by the American Board of Criminalistics. It is the sixth time in nine years that Marshall’s program ranked number one in the country on the assessment test. Marshall University was one of 10 graduate programs that participated in 2015 with a total of 101 graduate students tested.

Fenger said he hopes the endowed scholarship will encourage students from West Virginia to apply to Marshall’s Forensic Science Graduate Program and seek opportunities for higher paying jobs and careers in this exciting and important field.

“Contributions to this scholarship are important because this is the only scholarship that has been established to provide students in Marshall’s Master of Forensic Science Program with financial assistance to help pay for their education,” said Fenger. “The scholarship will help support our students so they can make a difference in our society by serving the greater good to make our communities safer and serve justice through scientific forensic methods.”

More than 95 percent of the program’s Class of 2015 have obtained jobs in their field. To date, 293 individuals have graduated from the nationally recognized, FEPAC-accredited program since 1997.

  • Donations to the fund may be sent to:

  • Paul H. and Dixie O. Nicely Scholarship Fund
  • c/o The Marshall University Foundation
  • 519 John Marshall Dr.
  • Huntington, W.Va. 25703

Contributions should be designated on the check to the Paul H. and Dixie O. Nicely Scholarship Fund. For more information, please contact Mary Thomasson at 304-691-8961.



  • Mary Thomasson
  • Public Information Officer

  • Marshall University
    Forensic Science Center
  • 1401 Forensic Science Drive
  • Huntington, WV 25701

Photo: Kaitlin Huffman of Mt. Nebo, W.Va., is the first recipient of the Paul H. and Dixie O. Nicely Scholarship. A first-year graduate student, Huffman is in one of the training laboratories at Marshall’s Forensic Science Center, where students receive hands-on instruction on the latest DNA technologies for human identification purposes.