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A Classic Case of Serial Murder

Forensics Meets Photonics


Author(s)

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 Areas

N/A

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Laboratory

Language

English

Subject Headings

Electrical Engineering  |   Physics  |   Analytical Chemistry  |   Forensic Science  |  


Date Posted

03/23/05

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