Criminalistics

NOTICE: Introduction to Criminalistics Lecture and Lab (CHE 2710 and 2711) will be offered in both Fall and Spring of the 2014-2015 academic year.  Beginning in the 2015-2016 academic year, the course will be offered only in Spring semesters.

 

Criminalistics is the scientific investigation, identification, and comparison of physical evidence for criminal or civil court proceedings. Criminalists must be trained in many disciplines including chemistry, biology, law enforcement, physics, and mathematics. The four-year criminalistics curriculum leads to a bachelor of science degree and includes a half-time internship in a criminalistics laboratory during the senior year. Students in the criminalistics program are encouraged to complete all the requirements for a degree in chemistry approved by the American Chemical Society while completing the criminalistics degree program. Graduates of the program are prepared for employment in criminalistics and have completed the requirements for admission to graduate school in chemistry or criminalistics, medical school, dental school, or law school.  Chemistry students with a concentration in Criminalistics can choose from:  ACS certified BS in Chemistry or BS in Chemistry. 

About the Criminalistics Program

Definition

Criminalistics is a branch of Forensic Science that applies science to law through the recognition, documentation, collection, preservation, and analysis of physical evidence. A criminalist is a specialist who uses scientific principles to analyze, compare and/or identify firearms, fingerprints, hairs, fibers, drugs, blood and other physical evidence. A criminalist may also be trained to conduct crime scene investigation. Additionally, the criminalist must testify as an expert witness in court.

 

Admission

Upon admission to Metropolitan State University of Denver, any student who wishes to major in Chemistry with a concentration in Criminalistics, should consult the program director (Dr. April Hill, ahill45@msudenver.edu) as soon as possible to receive detailed information about the program options and to complete the declaration of a major/minor form.

Career Opportunities

Opportunities are available with Federal Agencies such as:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • U.S. Customs
  • Armed Services Laboratories

Many of our graduates have also found employment with state and local forensic laboratories.  In addition to careers directly related to criminalistics, chemistry majors find employment opportunities in such diverse fields such as: medicine, veterinary medicine, chiropractics medicine, osteopathy, pharmacology, pharmaceutics, physical therapy, dentistry, dental hygiene, medical technology engineering, and law.

Criminalistics Program Goals

The program’s primary goal is to prepare majors for careers and/or postgraduate studies in Forensic Sciences and for a lifetime of learning in the field. The Criminalistics Program endeavors to provide students the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills, criminalistics specific knowledge and a crucial understanding of chemical principals.

Transfers

Transfer students are welcomed. If, upon evaluation, chemistry courses taken at an accredited institution of higher education are judged to be comparable to the chemistry program’s course offerings, transfer credit will be awarded.

Special Requirements

Nearly all criminalistics employment is in government agencies that have special requirements including background checks and polygraph examination. Background checks will include criminal record, credit history, and interviews with people familiar with the applicant. Recent illicit drug use (five years), felony convictions, commission of crimes for which you have not been charged, drunk driving convictions and co-habitation with drug users and/or felons will disqualify an applicant from most positions. Many government agencies have a maximum age above which they will not hire. The same qualifications apply to the required internships.

Notes

The requirement of a minor is waived for students in the Concentration program. The Criminalistics Concentration is split into two tracks as outlined below.  Courses common to both tracks are listed first, followed by additional courses required for each track.  Track A requires one semester of Physical Chemistry and two internships in Criminalistics.  Track B requires one internship and a full year of Physical Chemistry (along with the required Calculus courses), which allows the student to earn the certification of the American Chemical Society (ACS).  Please see a Department Advisor to discuss the ACS certificate requirements.

 

Chemistry BS with Criminalistics Concentration

Basic Chemistry Core for Criminalistics

 

Credit Hours

CHE 1800

General Chemistry I

 

4

CHE 1810

General Chemistry II

 

4

CHE 1850

General Chemistry Lab

 

2

CHE 3000

Analytical Chemistry

 

3

CHE 3010

Analytical Chemistry Lab

 

2

CHE 3100

Organic Chemistry I

 

4

CHE 3110

Organic Chemistry II

 

3

CHE 3120

Organic Chemistry I Lab

 

2

CHE 3130

Organic Chemistry II Lab

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subtotal

26

Additional Required Chemistry Courses

 

 

CHE 4100

Instrumental Analysis

 

3

CHE 4110

Instrumental Analysis Lab

 

2

CHE 4310

Biochemistry I

 

4

CHE 4350

Biochemistry Laboratory

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subtotal

10

Required Criminalistics Courses

 

 

CHE 2710

Introduction to Criminalistics

 

3

CHE 3700

Criminalistics I

 

4

CHE 3710

Criminalistics II

 

4

CHE 4710

Criminalistics Internship II

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subtotal

14

Required Ancillary Courses

 

 

BIO 1080

General Biology I

 

3

BIO 1090

General Biology I Lab

 

1

BIO 3050

Cell and Molecular Biology

 

4

BIO 3600

General Genetics

 

4

CJC 1010

Introduction to Criminal Justice 

 

3

CJC 3110

Constitutional Issues in Criminal Procedures

 

3

MTH 1210

Introduction to Statistics -OR- 

 

4

MTH 3210

Probability and Statistics 

 

4

MTH 1410

Calculus I 

 

4

PHI 1030

Introduction to Ethics 

 

3

PHY 2010

College Physics I 

 

3

PHY 2030

College Physics I Lab 

 

2

PHY 2020

College Physics II 

 

3

PHY 2040

College Physics II Lab  -OR-

 

2

PHY 2311

General Physics I 

 

3

PHY 2321

General Physics I Lab 

 

2

PHY 2331

General Physics II 

 

3

PHY 2341

General Physics II Lab 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subtotal

39

Required Options (Choose A or B)

 

 

Option A

 

 

CHE 3190

Survey of Physical Chemistry

 

4

CHE 3200

Survey of Physical Chemistry Lab

 

1

CHE 4700

Criminalistics Internship I

  

5

 

 

 

 

Option B

 

 

 

CHE 3250

Physical Chemistry I

 

4

CHE 3280

Physical Chemistry I Lab

 

2

CHE 3260

Physical Chemistry II

 

4

CHE 3290

Physical Chemistry II Lab

 

2

MTH 2410

Calculus II

 

4

MTH 2420

Calculus III

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

99 – 109

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Criminalistics Minor

 

The Criminalistics Minor program is designed to complement the Criminal Justice Major.  Students who combine these two disciplines in a major/minor program receive a broad law enforcement background with understanding of all phases of criminal investigation.  The required courses for the minor teach many of the same scientific principles as the concentration, but at a level understood by the student with little scientific background.  

Required Courses

Credit Hours

Chemistry

 

CHE 1100

Principles of Chemistry

4

CHE 1150

Principles of Chemistry Lab

1

 

 

 

Criminalistics

 

CHE 2710

Introduction to Criminalistics

3

CHE 2711

Introduction to Criminalistics Lab

1

CHE 2750

Arson and Explosives

3

CHE 2760

Field Testing of Drugs

1

CHE 3600

Crime Scene Investigation I

4

CHE 3610

Crime Scene Investigation II

4

 

 

 

Criminal Justice and Criminology

 

CJC 3110

Constitutional Issues in Criminal Procedures

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL REQUIRED CREDIT HOURS

24

 

NOTE: Principles of Chemistry is a prerequisite for Introduction to Criminalistics.  Introduction to Criminalistics is a prerequisite for all other Criminalistics courses. Crime Scene I is a prerequisite for Crime Scene II.  Courses MAY NOT be taken unless the prerequisites have been completed with a passing grade.  NO EXCEPTIONS.

 

Facilities

The Chemistry Department and Criminalistics program is housed in the new Science Building (opened January 2010) on the Auraria Campus. The new 195,000 square-feet facility is paired with a renovated existing 143,000 square-feet Science Building. The Chemistry and Criminalistics programs occupy the third floor of the building. Laboratories include two general chemistry, one analytical, one physical/inorganic, one instrumental, one shared biochemistry and two organic laboratories. The Criminalistics program also has a dedicated laboratory, darkroom, and microscopy lab. A biosafety hood and DNA extraction and PCR areas are also located within the department. All of the laboratories are equipped with prep areas and mini-Mac computers. There is a dedicated student research lab and common areas on the floor. There is also office space for faculty and staff. The nuclear magnetic resonance laboratory is located in the basement of the building.

 

Recent graduates have secured jobs at Georgia Bureau of Investigations, Augusta, Georgia, Idaho State Police - Meridian, Idaho, Agilent Technologies, Boulder, Colorado, Ora Labs, Parker, Colorado, Newmont Mining, Centennial, Colorado, Environmental Protection Agency, Denver, Colorado, and the University of Colorado - Anschutz, Aurora, Colorado. 

  

Recent student conference presentations

Gesick, K.M.; Elkins, K.M. “Evaluation of DNA recovery from chewing gum simulated forensic samples by seven DNA extraction methods,” CHED Poster #167, 242nd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), Denver, CO, August 29, 2011.

Radulovich, M.D.; Elkins, K.M. “Modifications to the Chelex DNA extraction method to reduce cost and extraction time,” CHED Poster #173, 242nd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), Denver, CO, August 29, 2011.

Bevins, P.D.; Elkins, K.M. “Preparation and Evaluation of Nanoparticles for Latent Fingerprint Recovery,” poster presentation in the Metro State Student Research Forum, Denver, CO, April 1, 2011.

Gesick, K.M.; Elkins, K.M. “Evaluation of Six Methods to Extract DNA from Chewing Gum Simulated Forensic Samples,” poster presentation in the Criminalistics Section (A129) at the 63rd Annual American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) National Meeting, Chicago, IL, February 25, 2011.

Bevins, P.D.; Elkins, K.M. “Preparation and Evaluation of Nanoparticles for Latent Fingerprint Recovery,” poster presentation in the Criminalistics Section (A162) at the 63rd Annual American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) National Meeting, Chicago, IL, February 25, 2011.

Bevins, P.D.; Elkins, K.M. “Preparation and Evaluation of Nanoparticles for Latent Fingerprint Recovery,” poster presentation at a meeting of the Colorado Section of the American Chemical Society, Colorado Springs, CO November 29, 2010.

Kadunc, R.E. and Elkins, K.M. “Comparison of quantity and quality of DNA recovered from simulated arson cases in which burn temperatures and conditions were varied,” poster presentation in the Criminalistics Section (A138) at the 62nd Annual American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) National Meeting, Seattle, WA, February 26, 2010.

Mann, G.R.; McLaughlin, S. and Elkins, K.M. “DNA Degradation in Simulated Arson Cases using Various Accelerants,” poster presentation in the Criminalistics Section (A19) at the 61st Annual American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) National Meeting, Denver, CO, February 1

9, 2009.