CHEM 113 Spring 2013 Chemistry and Crime: From Sherlock Holmes to Modern Forensic Science

In this course, designed for students who do not plan to major in the natural sciences, we use a case-oriented approach to explore selected topics of forensic science. These include: (1) the scientific and technological foundation for the examination of physical, chemical, and biological items of evidence, and (2) the scope of expert qualifications and testimony, the legal status of scientific techniques, and the admissibility of the results in evidence. The analysis of trace evidence, including glass, soil, gunpowder residues and bullet fragments, and inorganic and heavy metal poisons are discussed through an understanding of the basic concepts of chemistry and analytical chemistry. Forensic toxicology and pharmacology are applied to the analysis of alcohol, poisons, and drugs based upon the principles of organic chemistry and biochemistry. The characterization of blood and other body fluids necessitate an understanding of serology and molecular genetics. The cases which stimulate the exploration of these areas include: the John and Robert Kennedy assassinations, the Jeffrey MacDonald case (Fatal Vision), the Wayne Williams case, the deaths of celebrities Marilyn Monroe, John Belushi, and Janis Joplin, the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, the Lindberg baby kidnapping, the Tylenol poisonings, and the identity of Anastasia. An interactive laboratory program provides an appreciation of scientific experimentation in general and the work of a crime lab in particular. It includes an analysis of evidence collected at various crime scenes and provides an opportunity to learn forensic techniques such as chromatography (for ink, drug, and fire accelerant analysis), spectroscopy (for alcohol and drug analysis), and electrophoresis (for DNA fingerprinting).
Class Format: lecture, three hours per week; laboratory, four hours per week
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on problem sets and/or quizzes, hour tests, a final exam, and laboratory performance
Additional Info:
Additional Info2:
Prerequisites: none; designed for the non-science major who does not intend to pursue a career in the natural sciences; not open to students who have taken CHEM 151, 153, 155, 156/251, or 256
Enrollment Preference: seniors and juniors
Department Notes:
Material and Lab Fees:
Distribution Notes:
Divisional Attributes: Division III
Other Attributes: JLST Enactment/Applications in Institutions,SCST Elective Courses
Enrollment Limit: 30
Expected Enrollment: 30
Class Number: 3008
CHEM113-01(S) LEC Chemistry and Crime Division 3: Science and Mathematics Lawrence J. Kaplan
TR 09:55 AM-11:10 AM Chemistry 202 3008
Course Search
Catalog Number:
Subject Attributes:
Enrollment Limit:
Course Type:
Start Time: End Time:
Instructor First Name:
Instructor Last Name:
Keyword Search: