Sparty Statue

Faculty Bios

David R. Foran, Ph.D.
Forensic Biology

David Foran obtained his PhD in molecular genetics from the University of Michigan, and was a post-doctoral fellow at McGill University in Montreal. He became a research associate at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and then an assistant professor in the Forensic Science Department at the George Washington University in Washington DC, where he developed the forensic biology laboratory.

Dr. Foran founded the Forensic Biology Laboratory and graduate track at MSU in 2002, and was Director of the program from 2004 to 2018. Dr. Foran’s area of expertise is forensic biology, with an accent on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA analysis of both humans and domestic and wildlife species. He and his graduate students aid a variety of local, state, and federal agencies with specialized casework, are advisors to the Michigan Innocence Project, and conduct research on historical cases of broad interest.

He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, is on the Editorial Board of The Journal of Forensic Sciences, and is court qualified as an expert on both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA profiling.


Ruth W. Smith, Ph.D.
Director and Professor
Forensic Chemistry
After earning her PhD in Forensic and Analytical Chemistry, Ruth Smith was a postdoctoral fellow in the Analytical Chemistry Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, where she worked on improving methods for the detection of explosives. In 2005, she moved to Michigan State University to coordinate the Forensic Chemistry concentration, and became Director of the Forensic Science program in 2018. Her research interests focus on the application of new and emerging analytical techniques to the forensic sciences, as well as the application of multivariate statistical procedures for the association and discrimination of various types of forensic evidence. Her work has been published widely in forensic science and analytical chemistry journals. Smith is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Forensic Sciences and Forensic Chemistry. She is also a member of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science Seized Drugs Subcommittee and a core committee member of the Scientific Working Group for Seized Drug Analysis (SWGDRUG).