Mary Elizabeth Cowan, 1929
B.A., Denison University
Citation awarded on Saturday, May 31, 1969
Mary Elizabeth Cowan, a medical technologist, is known for her investigation into the causations of sudden and violent deaths, which has done much to advance the practice of forensic medicine by effectively connecting the methodology of science to legal medicine.
Senior medical technologist in charge of the Trace Evidence Department in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Laboratories, her results in the development of evidence in the murder trial of Dr. Samuel Sheppard in 1953 first brought her to public attention. The continued success of her methods led to an invitation to present a paper at the 5th Congress of the International Academy of Legal Medicine and Social Medicine held in Vienna, Austria, in 1961. Following publication of this study, Miss Cowan was engaged as an expert witness for the defense in a murder trial in a Philippine Court in Manila. She has been a guest lecturer at State Police Seminars at Harvard Medical School, elected officer of the Criminalistics Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and appointed member of the editorial board of the Journal of Forensic Sciences. She has served as an instructor in legal medicine in the department of pathology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine since 1955.