Forensic Science AdvisingDeborah Exton
Department of Chemistry
University of Oregon
dexton at uoregon.edu
Forensic Science is the application of scientific principles and technological practices to the study and resolution of criminal, civil and regulatory issues. The role of the forensic scientist is twofold: to analyze physical evidence and to provide expert testimony in a court of law. This information is helpful in determining the innocence or guilt of the suspect.
In recent years there has been a large increase in the number of students interested in pursuing forensic science careers. The University of Oregon provides advising for these students, but does not offer a degree in Forensic Science. This does not mean, however, that future forensic scientists should attend college elsewhere because it is not necessary to have a degree in Forensic Science to obtain work in a forensic laboratory. For more information about this and other common concerns, refer to the Student Resource page provided by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors.
Recommended Courses:To work as a scientist in a crime lab or to enter a graduate program in Forensic Science, it is generally necessary to have a Bachelor's degree in either chemistry, biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, or forensic science. Incoming students should take General Chemistry and math during the freshman year. Beyond that, the major and courses that you choose depend upon the forensic discipline in which you wish to work.
If possible, elective courses in criminal justice, criminal law and criminal procedure can also be taken. Because it is also necessary to have good writing and public speaking skills, students should take coursework and focus on activities that allow them to improve these skills.
- Chemistry Emphasis (analysis of trace physical evidence, such as drugs, alcohol, soil, accelerants, paint, etc.):
- Organic Chemistry
- Physical Chemistry
- Instrumental Analysis
- Biology Emphasis (DNA analysis of body fluids, hair, etc.)
- molecular biology
A complete listing of schools with graduate and undergraduate programs in Forensic Sciences is provided by the American Academcy of Forensic Sciences.
Useful Links to Forensic Science related sites:
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences
- Northwest Association of Forensic Scientists
- American Academy of Forensic Psychology
- American Board of Forensic Anthropology
- American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors - links to jobs in forensic science.
- Knowledge Solutions - online courses in forensic science
- California Association of Criminalists
- National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC)
- Bibliography on Career Resources in Forensic Science Sealy Library, John Jay University Somewhat outdated but still contains some useful information
- Forensic Science Resources More links
- International Association of Forensic Nurses
- Information on forensic nursing careers
- Homeland Security Guide to Crime Scene Investigation
- A lot more forensic science links
Forensic Laboratories in Oregon:
- Oregon State Patrol Forensic Services Division
The OSP Forensic Services Division serves the state's Criminal Justice System by providing scientific and technical forensic identification services, and maintenance of the state's criminal history and fingerprinting data base.
Employees of the Crime Lab Section are assigned at five strategically located regional laboratories throughout the state that provide services consisting of evidentiary analysis, expert court testimony, major crime scene assistance, and certification of all breath testing equipment. The Portland laboratory is the only State Police forensic laboratory in the state that can provide positive identification of individuals through "DNA fingerprinting" of biological evidence. Further information can be obtained by emailing the OSP Forensic Services Division.
- Eugene Police Department Forensic Evidence Unit
- US Fish & Wildlife Forensics Laboratory - Ashland, Oregon
- Washington County Sheriff's Office Forensic Science Unit