Inaugural Faculty Achievement Award goes to forensic genetics expert

By Alex Branch

GSBS_web
 
John Planz, PhD, who has developed online training modules used in more than 140 crime labs across the United States, was the recipient of the inaugural Faculty Achievement Award.

Dr. Planz, Associate Professor in the Institute of Molecular Medicine, received the award at the UNT Health Science Center graduation ceremony Saturday, May 20.

“Frankly, I was shocked to hear my name,” Dr. Planz said. “And I certainly felt honored.”

Dr. Planz was one of five finalists for the honor, which includes a $10,000 award. Other finalists were Howe Liu, PhD, MPT, MD, Professor of Physical Therapy; Rita Patterson, PhD, Professor of Family Medicine; Katalin Prokai, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmacy; and David Sterling, PhD, Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology.

Finalists and the recipient were selected by a committee of peers led by the Faculty Senate.

Dr. Planz joined the Health Science Center in 2000 and founded the university’s forensic genetics program in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in 2001. He obtained $14 million in grant funding from National Institute of Justice and the FBI, and he developed ground-breaking online training modules that elevated expertise in forensic statistics in crime labs across the country.

“At one point, we had 475 professionals at crime labs, as well as some U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan, taking the course at the same time,” he recalled. “It was a fun experience because we got to try so many things that hadn’t been done before.”

Since it was created, more than 100 students have graduated with a master’s of science degree in the forensic genetics program, and about 96 percent of those graduates work in crime labs today. Many are laboratory directors and supervisors.

“The students we get at the Health Science Center are incredibly bright and talented,” he said. “It is a pleasure watching them learn and then go become leaders in forensic genetics.”

Dr. Planz maintains a significant teaching load and service on numerous UNTHSC committees, and he is a reviewer for more than half a dozen prestigious research journals, including Nature. He also leads research into areas of molecular evolutionary genetics and population genetics applications for studying inter- and intra-specific diversity.

Recent News

7281bfad 8597 4cef 80de B58ea8a26ab5
  • Community
|Jun 10, 2024

North Texas Asthma Summit to improve asthma outcomes for children

Representatives from 10 North Texas organizations will come together Wednesday with one common goal in mind: improving health outcomes for children with poorly controlled asthma. The goal of the North Texas Asthma Summit is to develop community partnerships to help these children who frequently e...
Dobbs Headshot
  • Our People
|Jun 7, 2024

School of Health Professions welcomes three new staff members

The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s School of Health Professions is excited to announce three new staff members in the dean’s office. Christa Lo, DHSc, MPAS, PA-C, joins SHP as associate dean. In her role, she will assist in overseeing the school’s academic...
Drwhite
  • Our People
|Jun 6, 2024

TCOM Alumnus Dr. Frederick White receives the Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Service from the AOCR

In recognition of his outstanding leadership, dedication and service, Frederick E. White, DO, FAOCR, a 1977 graduate from the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, was selected as the recipient of the American Osteopathic College ...
Hampton 5
  • On Campus
|Jun 5, 2024

Hampton University representatives visit HSC to build partnerships

A delegation of five representatives from Hampton University visited The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s campus on Friday. Hampton University is a private, historically Black university founded in 1868 in Hampton, Virginia. The group included President of Ham...