CHEM 113
Chemistry and Crime: From Sherlock Holmes to Modern Forensic Science
Last Offered Fall 2017
Division III
This course is not offered in the current catalog or this is a previous listing for a current course.

Class Details

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 Casey Anthony case, the Tylenol poisonings, and the identity of Anastasia. Interactive demonstration sessions provide an appreciation of scientific experimentation in general and the work of a crime lab in particular. It includes an analysis of evidence 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).
The Class: Format: lecture; three times per week
Limit: 30
Expected: 30
Class#: 1038
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: problem sets and/or quizzes, hour tests, a final exam, and papers
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 Preferences: seniors and juniors
Distributions: Division III

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