Summer Academy in Forensic Chemistry

What

The UMass Amherst Summer Academy in Forensic Chemistry will emphasize current scientific techniques in the areas of forensic chemistry and biology. Students will learn and apply the scientific principles behind the crime-solving techniques and will gain an understanding of the education, training, and other requirements needed to get hired in a forensics laboratory. Attendees will have the opportunity to conduct experiments, interpret their results, and communicate the results of their tests. Topics explored during the course may include drug chemistry, fire debris analysis, toxicology, biology, and DNA analysis, and fingerprints. In addition, students will get an introduction to the legal aspects of forensics, including testimonies, relevant laws, and chain of custody issues. Students will have the opportunity to complete a “challenge project” of their own choosing incorporating the knowledge they gained during the two weeks. The project will be presented to the rest of the students on the last day of the course. In addition to lab work, students may have the opportunity to visit a real crime laboratory and hear guest lectures from experts in the field of forensics.

When

July 6 - July 19, 2014

Goals

  • Demonstrate the application of scientific principles and show students why a strong background in the physical sciences is necessary for a career in forensic science.
  • Give students an understanding of the education, training, and other requirements needed to get hired in a forensics lab. The majority of the time will be devoted to forensic topics in chemistry and biology with less time devoted to other areas of forensics (i.e. fingerprints, firearms).
  • Students will have the opportunity to conduct experiments, interpret their results, and communicate the results of their tests, possibly in the form of mock testimonies.
  • Give students an introduction to some modern analytical equipment used in forensic laboratories, including gas chromatography, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, infrared analysis, and high performance liquid chromatography.
  • Students will gain an understanding of the legal side of forensics, including testimonies, relevant laws, and chain of custody issues.
  • Give students an idea of the multiple steps in the legal process from collection of the evidence, to analysis, to report writing to testimony in the courtroom.
  • Students will have the opportunity to complete a “challenge project” of their own choosing, incorporating the knowledge they gained during the two weeks. The project will be presented to the rest of the students on the last day of the course. These projects will be primarily group based.

Safety

Every student must wear safety glasses while in the laboratory (provided).

Students will attend a brief lab safety training session on the first day to go over proper lab techniques.

No shorts, short skirts, or open-toed shoes in the lab.

 

Inquiry goals (taken from Department of Education  Curriculum Framework)

SIS1. Make observations, raise questions, and formulate hypotheses.

SIS2. Design and conduct scientific investigations.

SIS3. Analyze and interpret results of scientific investigations.

SIS4. Communicate and apply the results of scientific investigations.

Questions?