Forensic Science - Science Majors
Choose the Science Major That’s Right for You
Our program is unique in integrating the study of forensic science into seven distinct natural science majors. You can receive certification of completing a strong program in forensic science integrated into your Bachelor of Science degree in one of the following majors:
As a forensic biochemist you’ll play an important role in the evaluation of evidence from all types of biological samples, from DNA fingerprinting to the detection of drugs. You’ll use biochemical tests to locate and identify biological forensic samples in the field, which you will then analyze in the crime laboratory. Enzyme assays, fluorescence polarization, identification of DNA and RNA, immunological techniques, and microscopy all result in additional evidence to support a criminal case. Your education will include instruction in both wet chemical methods and instrumental methods, which are based on a fundamental understanding of protein and nucleic acid chemistry, metabolism, microbiology, and analytical chemistry.
The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at USciences also provides the opportunity to obtain American Chemical Society certification for your degree in biochemistry.
As a forensic biologist, you will collect and analyze information and biological evidence to understand the nature of a legal problem under investigation. Common physical evidence includes blood, semen, and saliva, but can be any bodily fluid, human or animal.
You’ll learn to use such techniques as conventional serological methods as well as DNA technology for individual source identification in forensic casework. Within the biology major, you will learn fundamentals of forensic molecular biology and genetics, and you’ll obtain a strong foundation in animal, plant, and population biology to enhance the breadth of your capabilities and options in pursuing a career.
You may choose a more specialized forensic biology focus in which you investigate insect and animal evidence. If you plan on an advanced degree in medicine or dentistry, you can explore the career options available in forensic pathology or odontology.
Elective courses in areas such as parasitology, hematology, and forensic pathology allow you to begin to explore specialization toward one of a variety of careers in local, regional, and federal governments or in the private sector.
Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry
With training in forensic chemistry, you will have the background to carry out a number of important roles in the forensic laboratory, including evaluation of trace evidence, chemical analysis, and toxicology. The comparison and identification of fibers, paint chips, fire debris, and other physical evidence is often the responsibility of a forensic chemist. You may also be called upon to identify the presence of drugs, explosives, and accelerants in residues that are found at a crime scene, or to do toxicological testing, such as blood alcohol level measurements.
In addition to wet chemical methods, such as extraction of liquid and solid samples, you will also typically use a wide variety of instrumental techniques, such as gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, spectroscopy (both absorption and fluorescence), and microscopy, to learn what is present in a sample.
The chemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry curricula integrated into the forensic science program are designed to provide you with a strong fundamental background in chemistry as well as training in the area of forensic chemistry.
The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at USciences also provides the opportunity to obtain American Chemical Society certification for your degree in chemistry.
As a graduate of the forensic science program in environmental science, you will be prepared to participate in investigations of environmental disturbances, usually with a focus on legal action.
Communities and nations rely on detailed laws as they seek to manage, conserve, and protect the environment. Current and pending legal concerns pose challenges for consumers, industry, and law enforcement agencies alike, as offenses are easily caused by ignorance or lack of understanding of the potential environmental impact of actions. As a forensic environmental scientist, you will collect and evaluate information to determine sources, timing, and distribution of chemical contamination, identify potentially responsible parties, or validate liability claims.
With an environmental science degree and forensic science training, you will have a wide variety of fields of employment open to you, including work for industry, government agencies, law enforcement authorities, and research organizations.
Medical Laboratory Science
As a medical laboratory scientist you will be a highly sought after member of a forensic science team. Your expertise in laboratory testing using sophisticated instrumentation and your commitment to precision will make you invaluable in forensic analysis and in the crime laboratory. Our forensic science medical laboratory science program gives you an added edge by providing background in other areas of forensic science such as crime investigation and the social and ethical aspects.
If you pursue a career as a microbial forensic scientist, you will be involved with one of the newest forms of forensic analysis, and one that is important to local law enforcement agencies, federal regulatory and security agencies, and those fighting global health concerns. You will use molecular epidemiology techniques to trace outbreaks of microbial diseases, all the while ensuring that your microbial forensic data can bear the scrutiny of scientists, as well as judges and juries.
The anthrax attack of 2001, in which spores of the bacterium, the cause of anthrax, were disseminated via the mail, is a good example of the kinds of cases you could work on in microbial forensics. The effects of this crime extended far beyond the five people who died of inhalation anthrax, and forensic scientists helped formulate our nation’s response. You, too, could put your skills to use in a rewarding career in which you work for the good of the nation and even the world.