Forensic science major debuts this fall

Matt Bedekovich

Pitt-Bradford has developed a new major in forensic science that will be available to students beginning this fall.

 

            The major combines classes in biology, chemistry and criminal justice.

 

            “Over the years, many of our academic majors have developed components of their programs that address various aspects of forensics,” said Dr. Steven Hardin, vice president and dean of academic affairs. “We realized that we were developing some real expertise in this area and therefore pulled these areas of study together into a major in forensic science. It not only taps into the expertise we have developed on campus, but also responds to student interests and national needs.”

 

            Students will take a core of 56 to 58 credits of criminal justice, biology, chemistry, physics and calculus. They will then choose a concentration in either biology or chemistry and take another 27 to 28 credits in their chosen area.

 

            Dr. Francis Mulcahy, associate professor of chemistry, will be director of the program. He said that Pitt-Bradford already had the necessary courses, but that professors will tweak the contents of a few classes to benefit the new major. For example, the chemistry class Analytical Instrumentation will now emphasize the analysis of drugs over other substances.

 

            Other classes, such as Organic Chemistry Analysis, already exist, but will be offered more frequently, Mulcahy said.

 

            “This major should enable someone to get a position in forensics or other science areas. It is broad-based enough for students to get a feel for how evidence is collected and the processes used to examine it,” Mulcahy said. With the addition of a psychology class, the major would provide preparation for medical school. Graduates could work in a lab or further their study in other scientific areas.

 

            Mulcahy said that some of his chemistry students have already shown interest in the new program.

 

            The criminal justice part of the program builds on the criminal forensics studies minor launched in 2013. To support the minor, and now major, Pitt-Bradford has a professional -grade forensics lab that includes a CYCLOPS Imager; a Forensic Digital Optical Video Magnifier; a Video-Based Optical Comparator; a Forensic Alternative Light Source Detection Kit; and a KRIMESITE Imager.

 

            The Cyclops Imager is a hands-free RUVIS Imaging System specifically designed to search large areas within a crime scene for latent impression and biological evidence. The Forensic Digital Optical Video Magnifier and the Video-Based Optical Comparator will allow students to conduct laboratory-grade examinations and comparative analysis on a variety of forensic-related items, and digitally record and download their findings on a computer.

 

The Forensic Alternative Light Source Detection Kit is a handheld device that will allow students in the field or in a laboratory setting the ability to search for microparticle, physiological, or impression evidence such as hairs, fibers, bite marks, patent and latent fingerprints, certain narcotics and drugs, and physiological fluids (semen, saliva, etc.).

 

Finally, the KRIMESITE KSS60 is a Reflective Ultra Violet Imaging System that is one of the most advanced and integral pieces of equipment for any crime scene investigator today. This equipment gives students an enhanced ability to search and locate a variety of forensic impression and biological evidence at the scene of a crime

 

            Students will also have the chance to hone their evidence gathering in the university's Crime Scene Investigation House.

 

            Dr. Tony Gaskew, associate professor of criminal justice, said, “The forensic science major provides students with an outstanding opportunity to pursue a professional career in one of the most fascinating and diverse fields in the nation.”

 

            For more information on the forensic science major at Pitt-Bradford, contact Mulcahy at (814)362-7606 or fishnet@pitt.edu.