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Spring 2005 - Evidence

Destination Purdue > Spring 2005 - Evidence

Evidence shows classes' popularity

By Drew Stone

A popular subject allows Purdue University students to study what their favorite characters on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation do each week. Forensic science is currently a minor offered by the School of Health Sciences, which is considering making the subject a major.

An important class in the minor is jointly offered by Purdue Agriculture's Department of Entomology. Since the entomology class began in 2002, enrollment for ENTM 218 (Introduction to Forensic Science), and the health sciences class it meets with, has risen to nearly 500. That growth, plus a student club show a demand for more forensic science offerings, says Ralph Williams, an entomology professor.

"We wanted forensics to become a major when I took a class," said Tony Sliger, a senior biology major from Fort Wayne, Ind. "I heard about the possibility of it happening back then, but I didn't know it was getting pushed forward so quickly."

Like CSI characters, students in forensic science classes learn how to examine clues from crime scenes, run tests on bullet casings and other objects used in crimes, examine victims' bodies and perform a number of other research processes.

Entomology is the science of insects and related organisms. A knowledge of entomology can help investigators determine details about crimes, such as where and when they may have occurred. "It was really fun examining all the little details of a crime scene that go into solving the case," said Sliger.

Courses also deal with applying scientific and engineering principles to identify the perpetrators, causes and consequences of criminal activity. For many students, the science can be more fun than the field work.

"Going out and collecting evidence is just a small part of finding clues," said Charles Walter, a senior health science major from Crown Point, Ind. "It's in the lab where you can inspect the evidence and really see what the hidden clues are. That is where the real excitement is."