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Howe Wins National Forensics Award

Julie Howe, instructor in the Health Information Management Program at Saint Louis University’s Doisy College of Health Sciences, was recently awarded the John R. Hunt Award by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS). 

Julie Howe

Julie Howe (left) was chosen from among 850 candidates for the academy's award. Submitted photo

The Hunt Award recognizes sustained superior contributions to the AAFS and the forensic science community. Howe was chosen from over 850 members of her membership section (General Section) of the AAFS to receive the honor.

The AAFS is an organization dedicated to advancing forensic science and its application to the legal system. Howe received the award at the organization’s annual meeting in Seattle.

In addition to teaching health information management at SLU, Howe has also been a medicolegal death investigator for 18 years, during which time she has amassed an impressive background in forensic science.

After the release of the National Academy of Science’s (NAS) 2009 report regarding the state of forensic science, Howe and other forensic professionals recognized the need to develop nationwide forensic standards for practicing forensic professionals. Howe was elected to the AAFS Academy Standards Board (ASB) to work towards that goal. It is partially for her diligent work with other members of the ASB developing these standards that Howe was chosen to receive the Hunt Award.

“Our goal is to have forensic standards on a federal registry so medical and legal authorities can work together to drive forensic science forward,” Howe said.

Howe’s recent work includes helping to develop a national case management system to collect uniform information on a death certificate that would allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to access timely information to help drive public health initiatives. She has also chaired or served on 12 different AAFS committees; presented over 20 peer-reviewed studies at the national and international levels; published four peer-reviewed manuscripts and two book chapters; served as a team leader for the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Missing and Unidentified Persons System Training Academies; and helped create and conduct conferences to teach high school math and science teachers how to incorporate forensic science into the classroom, among other contributions to the profession.

After taking these accomplishments into account, the AAFS General Section Awards Committee selected Howe as the recipient of the 2018 John R. Hunt Award – an award that can be given annually, but that is not necessarily awarded every year.

 “I am very surprised and humbled to receive the John R. Hunt Award,” Howe said. “There are many forensic professionals who are deserving of the award, so it means a lot to be the recipient.”

As an instructor of health information management at SLU, Howe is a faculty member in the Department of Clinical Health Sciences (CHS).

“Julie is most deserving of such recognition, as her scholarly work and passion for forensic science and how it meshes with health information management is clear in her dedication to her courses, her students, and the program,” Amy Harkins, Ph.D., chair of Howe’s department, said.