Cold Case Program students at the Capitol in Lansing

Meet the team

Program leadership

Dr. Ashlyn Kuersten

Director, Cold Case Program with Michigan State Police

 

Dr. Ashlyn Kuersten is a professor of Sociology and teaches in the Criminal Justice Studies Program at WMU.  She has received grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Justice, including one that allowed her to create the WMU Wrongful Conviction Program. She is the recipient of the 2023 Professional Excellence Award from Michigan State Police 5th District.

Dr. Kuersten is working with over 40 state universities and their state police agencies to help create similar programs to the WMU Cold Case Program. She also works with law firms and prosecutors to help determine the best practices to organize massive databases/case files. 

Her research has focused exclusively on U.S. constitutional law. Recent publications include books on the U.S. Courts of Appeals, and gender and constitutional rights, along with various articles on federal judicial behavior and presidential appointment strategy. She has won various teaching awards both at her university and with the American Political Science Association.  Her work has been featured on the Today Show, 48 Hours, NBC News and People Magazine.

Patrick Cundiff

Patrick Cundiff

Co-director, Cold Case Program with Michigan State Police

 

Dr. Patrick Cundiff is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at WMU. Dr. Cundiff has published works in refereed journals on criminology, criminal justice, and social psychology.  Dr. Cundiff's research interests tend to be wide ranging including: birth order and crime, the effects of incarceration on future employment, characteristics of sexual assault, the impact of expectations of the future on offending, homicide trends over time, criminal justice education, prisoner re-entry, and police personality. He has worked on sponsored research for criminal justice agencies and local municipalities, leading to the production of professional reports and other grant funding and allocations. 

Amber Urban

Administrator, Cold Case Program with Michigan State Police

 

Amber Urban is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at WMU. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University and a master’s degree from Ball State University. Her primary research interests revolve around reproductive health, including menstrual stigma, infertility, contraception, healthcare, and more. Amber has been a part of the WMU Cold Case Program with Michigan State Police since 2023 and quickly took on the role of program administrator to help the program continue to thrive. She is ecstatic to collaborate with students and detectives to help them succeed in the incredible work they do.

Chuck Christensen

Chuck Christensen

Detective First Lieutenant at Michigan State Police

 

D/F/Lt. Chuck Christensen is a Michigan native and a 1993 graduate of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Upon graduation he enlisted with the United States Border Patrol, graduated from the 279th session and served on United States border in Brownsville, Texas as a federal agent. In September of 1995 D/F/Lt. Christensen enlisted with the Michigan State Police and graduated as a member of the 113th Recruit School. D/F/Lt. Christensen has held the following positions within the department: road trooper, trooper investigator at the South Haven Post, trooper investigator, detective sergeant, team leader and the commanding officer of the Fifth District Cold Case Team. He has also held the positions of uniform sergeant and post commander at the Battle Creek and Paw Paw Posts. He currently commands the Fifth District Special Investigation Section comprised of the District Fugitive Team, Hometown Security Team, District Cold Case Team, District Crime Prevention Squad, and post detective sergeants in southwest Michigan.

Mine Dogan

Dr. Mine Dogan

Program Consultant, Geophysicist, WMU

 

Dr. Dogan is a MSc. Engineer Geophysicist and received her PhD. at Michigan State University in 2013. She is interested in near surface applications of geophysical methods for solving forensic-, environment- and groundwater-related problems. High resolution, novel, and non-destructive geophysical methods constitute the majority of the tools she uses for her research. Additionally, she works on high resolution flow-transport models, artificial neural network algorithms and inversion problems of EM methods of geophysics. Dr. Dogan specializes in environmental/near surface geophysics and is responsible for bringing the new drone-mounted geophysical systems to WMU. She teaches for her department's certificate program in UAVs Applications in Geological and Environmental Sciences, graduate and undergraduate level field camp, geophysics and computational methods courses, and is developing a Geo forensics course for the upcoming academic year.   

Dr. Dogan has worked extensively with the WMU Cold Case Program utilizing her ground penetrating radar in various cold missing-person cases around Michigan.

Brad Dennis

Bradford Dennis

Program Consultant, Education and Human Development Librarian, 

 

Professor Bradford Dennis has been an Education and Human Development Librarian at WMU since 2002. He supported the planning and successful opening of the Swain Education Library and served as head of this branch. He then moved into an instruction and outreach role in 2018. He is known on campus for his work with LibQUAL, a national assessment survey of academic libraries that WMU has participated in every three years since 2004. He previously served as WMU's University Assessment Steering Committee chair and received a Western Assessment Excellence Award. 

Dennis's background in libraries and historical research has been utilized extensively by WMU’s Cold Case Program, providing insight into resources that can help illuminate decades-old unsolved cases. He has collaborated with the program on four cases, including the Roxanne Wood cold case murder recently solved by Michigan State Police. Learn more about Dennis' work with the Program here.

Dennis’ research and publication interests include academic library assessment, information literacy instruction, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.  Graduating with honors in 1994, Dennis is a WMU alumnus and received a post-graduate secondary education teaching certificate from the State of Michigan. In 2001, he received his Master of Library and Information Science Degree with the highest honors from Wayne State University.