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CSI: Augustana

Instructors: Dr. Mary Ellen Biggin,
Dr. Patrick Crawford, Dr. Greg Domski

Dr. Biggin, an associate professor of chemistry and chair of Augustana's chemistry department, completed her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Crawford, an assistant professor of chemistry, completed his Ph.D. from Miami University (Ohio).

Dr. Domski, an assistant professor of chemistry, completed his Ph.D. from Cornell University

Program dates: June 22-26, 2014

Program cost: $600

Includes lodging, all meals and any field trips. Students arrive on campus Sunday, June 22, and depart Thursday, June 26.

Course description

How does Hollywood get forensics wrong? In this course students will be introduced to the scientific reasoning behind forensics, focusing on DNA, bones and trace evidence. They will learn by doing: Using Augustana’s state-of-the-art equipment, you’ll critically evaluate evidence and apply your findings to a simulated crime.

This experience will be very interactive and hands-on. Enrollment will be kept low so each student will have personalized attention with the instructors. During this experience students will be introduced to the science behind the forensic techniques while applying them themselves. Some of the forensic techniques the class will be covering will include fingerprint identification, small molecule detection (drugs, contaminants, etc.), and DNA analysis. The evidence gathered from all of these scientific analyses will be used to solve a “Who done it” mystery that will frame the entire week.

Tentative schedule

Sunday, June 22

  • Check-in
  • Welcome reception

Monday, June 23

  • Program Introduction and Orientation
  • Discussion of crime scene and forensic investigation
  • Introduction to the case to work on this week
  • Visit from a member of the Rock Island County Coroner's office
  • Fingerprint identification

Tuesday, June 24

  • Introduction to UV-Vis and its use in small molecule detection
  • UV-Vis spectroscopy to analyze crime scene evidence
  • Forensic anatomy

Wednesday, June 25

  • Introduction to GC-MS analysis for detection of small molecules
  • GC-MS to analyze crime scene evidence
  • Introduction to chromatography and IR spectroscopy

Thursday, June 26

  • Forensic DNA analysis
  • Deductive reasoning - compiling all of the evidence analyzed from the week and identifying a probable suspect