Forensic Science (FSC)

FSC 3301. Forensic Science Quality Assurance. 3 Semester Hours.

This course presents common sources of forensic science errors that can occur at the crime scene, within law enforcement, in the crime laboratory, and in the courtroom and media. The roles of cognitive bias, misconduct, negligence, professional incompetence, lack of technical validation, and communication barriers in compromising forensic quality assurance are addressed. Special attention is given to laboratoryspecific quality assurance issues and the role of accreditation/certification in ensuring the integrity of forensic evidence and its analysis. Students also discuss court decisions, legislation, and case studies directly related to the validity of admissible scientific evidence, disclosure of quality assurance incidents, and wrongful convictions due to forensic science errors. The importance of the scientific method in the development and validation of new forensic techniques is emphasized. The expected professional and personal ethics of forensic science practitioners and the common ethical dilemmas they face are also highlighted. Prerequisites: BL 1401, CH 1401, CH 1402, and CR 3335 OR permission of instructor. (Spring only).

FSC 3330. Forensic Science Internship. 3 Semester Hours.

This course will provide an opportunity for forensic science students to participate in the complex operations of modern forensic/clinical/chemical laboratory. Students majoring in Forensic Science - Chemistry will need to complete a minimum of 160 hours. Emphasis will be placed on commonly used forensically-relevant test methods and the use of standard operating laboratory procedures. Examples of potential collaborative organizations include, but not limited to, forensic toxicology labs, clinical toxicology labs, crime scene investigations and medical examiner’s facilities. A combination of agencies may also be used pending approval of the organizations and the faculty internship advisor. Prerequisites: FSC 2301 OR by permission of instructor. Seniors will be given preference.

FSC 3340. Forensic Science Chemistry Internship. 3 Semester Hours.

This course will provide an opportunity for forensic science students to participate in the complex operations of modern forensic/clinical/chemical laboratory. Students majoring in Forensic Science - Chemistry will need to complete a minimum of 160 hours. Emphasis will be placed on commonly used forensically-relevant test methods and the use of standard operating laboratory procedures. Examples of potential collaborative organizations include, but not limited to, forensic toxicology labs, clinical toxicology labs, crime scene investigations and medical examiner’s facilities. A combination of agencies may also be used pending approval of the organizations and the faculty internship advisor. Prerequisites: FSC2301 OR by permission of instructor. Seniors will be given preference.

FSC 3350. Forensic Science Biology Internship. 3 Semester Hours.

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FSC 3380. Forensic Pharmacology. 3 Semester Hours.

This course will present the basic pharmacokinetics of forensically-relevant drugs, such as opioids, hallucinogens, stimulants, depressants, and cannabinoids. Students will discuss how these drugs influence behavior, illness, injury, and death as revealed by crime scene and laboratory analyses. In parallel, appropriate biological and chemical instrumentation to perform pharmacological investigations will be presented. High-profile medico-legal cases in forensic pharmacology and the legislation governing the development, distribution, and use of certain drugs will also be discussed. Prerequisites: BL 1401, CH 1401, CH 1402, CJ 1301, and CR 3335 OR permission of instructor.

FSC 3401. Forensic Microscopy. 4 Semester Hours.

Microscopy enables the detection, examination, and analysis of diverse forensic evidence during criminal investigations, and proficiency with various types of microscopy is expected of forensic science practitioners. Conceptually, this course will present the dynamic role of microscopy in a medico-legal context, the optics and mechanics governing forensic microscopy, and the obligation of forensic science practitioners to perform these analyses ethically and with professional competence. Students will also critique and discuss primary research articles in the field of forensic microscopy. Practically, students will use stereo-, compound light, polarizing light, and fluorescence microscopy to analyze physical, biological, and chemical evidence as appropriate. Emerging instrumental microscopy techniques will also be discussed. Prerequisites: BL 1401, CH 1401, CH 1402, and CR 3335 OR permission of instructor. (Spring only) Additional fee associated with this course. See fee schedule for details at https://www.stmarytx.edu/admission/financial-aid/tuition/.

FSC 4410. Forensic Toxicology. 4 Semester Hours.

This course will discuss the complex operations of modern forensic toxicology laboratories. It will also discuss the fundamentals of how the human body affects consumed drugs as well as how drugs affect the human body, especially as it relates to behavior and death. Emphasis will be placed on commonly observed forensically-relevant drugs, such as ethanol, opioids, cannabinoids, hallucinogens, designers as well as central nervous system (CNS) stimulants and depressants. In parallel, relevant biological and chemical methodologies will be discussed and then used to perform toxicological investigations. Relevant medicolegal cases will also be discussed. Prerequisites: BL 1401, BL 1402, CH 1401, CH 1402, CJ 1301, FSC 2301 and CR 3335 OR by permission of instructor. Additional fee associated with this course. See fee schedule for details at https://www.stmarytx.edu/admission/financial-aid/tuition/.