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New Forensic Sciences Course at University of Mobile Turns Science Lab into 'Crime Scene'

A new class in forensic sciences will turn a University of Mobile science lab into a “crime scene,” complete with a bloody footprint and clues students will investigate using scientific methods.

Drs. Gail Shelly and Larissa Walker are team-teaching the upper level course that combines practical applications of chemistry, physics and biology with current techniques used by the criminal justice system in processing evidence at a crime scene.

“There is a pressing need for qualified personnel in the field of forensic science, and we hope to provide our upper level science majors with a look at this interesting multidisciplinary field,” said Shelly, professor of chemistry at the Christian university.

Walker, assistant professor of biology, said she enjoys watching television shows such as CSI that use science to solve a mystery, and so do her students.

“However, as enjoyable as these shows are, they rarely give a true representation of the science involved in a real criminal investigation. To help dispel some of these misconceptions, Dr. Shelly and I decided to develop a new, cutting-edge course in forensic science,” Walker wrote in an online journal on the university’s website. The professors will write about the course in the online journal and include clues that students will use to help solve the crime.

The journal, “Investigating Forensic Sciences,” is posted on the University of Mobile website at www.umobile.edu.

Students get their first look at the “crime scene” during science lab Monday, Aug. 27, at 1 p.m., when Room 308 in Weaver Hall is cordoned off with crime scene tape. Students will collect and analyze evidence throughout the semester to determine what happened in the lab and find the culprit.

“They will study the various techniques used by real-world criminologists, including analysis of broken glass, soil, fingerprints, drugs, tool marks, ballistics, hair, fibers, blood stains and explosives. Blood typing and DNA analysis will also be performed,” Shelly said.

The class is offered to upper level science majors who have taken biology, chemistry, organic chemistry and genetics. The professors hope to offer a similar class in the future for students majoring in other fields.

For more information about the University of Mobile, one of "America's Best Christian Colleges" and "America's 100 Best College Buys," visit the website at www.umobile.edu or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.

Dr. Larissa Walker and Dr. Gail Shelly are writing a blog about the new Forensic
Sciences class at the University of Mobile.
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