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A Classic Case of Serial Murder

Forensics Meets Photonics



Co Authors:

Karen Altendorf
Sociology Department
Oklahoma State University

Alan Cheville
Department of Electrical Engineering
Bucknell University
alan.cheville@bucknell.edu

Abstract:

In this case study, a newly appointed medical examiner uncovers an unusual trend in drowning cases, which she suspects may be the work of a serial murderer. To prove that she is right, she must rely on instrumentation designed and tested by a team of students from the local university. Students read the case, then design and build a device for the detection of blood stains. The case was developed for use in an undergraduate laboratory course sequence in photonics for junior and senior level students. It would be suitable for any undergraduate course in physics, chemistry, or electrical engi eering that covers topics in optics, photonics, or spectroscopy.

Objectives:
  • To provide a means for students to apply the knowledge they gain from their textbook on topics in photonics (including fluorescence and absorption; optical filters; dispersive optics; optical sources; optical detectors; and how these devices are used in fluorescence and absorption measurements) to a real-world situation.
  • To create a relevant laboratory exercise to stimulate the students’ desire to learn.
  • To mimic the environment found in academic and industrial research laboratories in order to give the students a sense of what real research entails.
  • To provide exercises in teamwork and written communication.
Keywords: Fluorecein; fluorescence detection; measuring fluorescence; bloodstain detection system
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Laboratory
Language: English
Subject Headings: Electrical Engineering   Physics   Analytical Chemistry   Forensic Science  
Date Posted: 03/23/05
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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