2009 CWCS Advanced Forensic Science Workshop, Williams College

 Lawrence Kaplan (Williams College)

This workshop was designed for and by the participants of CWCS Sponsored "Forensic Science" workshops in prior years who have experience using forensics as a foundation for teaching science.

Each participant, an alum of a previous CWCS forensic science workshop, participated in the design and development of this workshop. As a reunion of sorts, each participant brought an aspect of their previous involvement with forensic science to the workshop to share with the other participants. Activities such as experiments, demonstrations, case studies, etc. were presented helped to broaden the scope of forensic science for all.

To download the schedule, click here.


Front kneeling: Michael E. Pugh, Bloomsburg University

Front row (l to r): David E. Roll, Roberts Wesleyan College; John R Miecznikowski, Fairfield University; Carmen V. Gauthier, Florida State College; Michelle Shulman, Saint Mary’s College of California; Dale D. Ensor, Tennessee Tech University

Middle row (l to r): Darcey G. Weyment, West Virginia Wesleyan College; Dwight Tshudy, Godon College; James P. Dittami, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Michael B. Wells, Campbell University; Michael Epstein, Mount St Mary’s University

Back row (l to right): Timothy G. Strein, Bucknell University, Tony Truran, Williams College, Eric Schurter, Muskingum College

Not shown: Jack Huang, Western Illinois University; Howard L. McLean, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Here is the group with Larry Kaplan, the workshop leader, front and center!


Each link below will take you to pictures of an activity presented at the workshop.

Jamie Martin, owner and operator of Orion Analytical LLC, A Material Analysis & Consulting Firm , presented an overview of the FTIR microscope which he recently donated to Williams College.

Jamie presents an overview of the FTIR microscope


Nancy Piatczyc gave an introduction to the scanning electron microscope (SEM). This instrument is widely used in the analysis of trace evidence and for the analysis of gunshot residue.


Carmen Gauthier and the rest of the group listening intently as Nancy explains the operation of the SEM


Michelle Shulman, Professor in the Chemistry Department of Saint Mary's College of California, introduces the portable X ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer loaned to the workshop by Niton, a division of Thermo Fisher. Michelle also introduced the use of the polarizing light microscope (PLM) for analyzing a wide variety of forensic samples. (Jamie Martin has said that the PLM may be the most valuable single instrument for forensic evidence analysis).

Michelle listens to a question about the operation of the XRF


Michelle sets up a sample on the PLM for Carmen Gauthier


Dwight Tshudy, now a Professor in the Chemistry Department, joined the chemistry faculty at Gordon College in 2004 after spending fourteen years in the analytical chemistry laboratories at Xerox. Here he explains the use of microsdots for security.

Checking for the dots on US currency


Jim Dittami, a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, invited his colleague Det. Lt. Richard D. Lauria of the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab to teach the procedures involved in lifting and identifying toolmarks. Det. Lt. Lauria teaches Pattern Evidence Analysis and Forensic Photography in the Boston University School of Medicine, Biomedical Forensic Sciences Program.








Mike Wells checks a suspected tool with a gouge on a piece of wood








Carmen Gauthier, Chemistry Professor and Chair of the Science and Mathematics Division at Florida Southern College, was assisted by Jay Racela, the Technical Assistant in the Environmental Analysis Laboratory at Williams College, in illustrating the use of atomic absorption spectroscopy in determining the identity and concentration of heavy metal poisons.

Dave Roll, is a Professor of Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Human Biology and the Pre-Professional Health Advisor at Roberts Wesleyan College. He introduced us to a fairly simple method for detecting acid phosphatase frequently present in seminal stains from rape cases.

Dave prepares some samples for the analysis 


Mike Epstein, a Chemistry Professor from Mount St. Mary's College, led two activites - one involved the analysis of audio (such as voice) computer files and the second presented a method of caibrating alchohol detecting instruments (unfortunately, no pictures are availble for the alcohol calibration experiment).


John Miecznikowski and Dwight Tshudy demonstrated the advantages of using the attenuated total reflectance (ATR) attachment to the FTIR when analyzing forensic samples. John is a Professor from Fairfield University in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

John is positioning a sample of duct tape 


Mike Pugh presently the Chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at Bloomsburg University discussed the analysis of gunshot residue using the Greiss test and the sodium rhodizonate test for nitrites and lead deposits respectively on fabric samples shot with a handgun of known distances. He also discussed the analysis of bullets to determine the caliber, the number of lands/grooves and the twist.

 Jack Haung prepares for the analysis of the residue

Mike Wells, Chair and Professor of Chemistry at Campbell University presented a fairly straighforward method to determine the percent ethanol in moonshine by density and by gas chromatography (GC).

 Tony Truran shows Howard McLean, Eric Schurter, Tim Strein and Mike Wells (sorry for the back of the head) how to use the GC


Darcey Wayment, a Professor from West Virginia Wesleyan College's Chemistry Department, demonstrated how the pH of a solution influences the abilty to extract a drug for further identification.

Here Darcey shows how to adjust the pH of the solutions 


Eric Schurter, a Professor from the Muskingum College Chemistry Department, guided the group in a experiment called the "Analysis of a Suspected Drug Sample" involving the separation of cocaine from a mixture of adulterants such as caffeine, lidocaine and/or aspirin. We then used FTIR and GCMS analysis for positive identification of each of the compounds.

Eric give careful instruction

Website: www.williams.edu/Chemistry/lkaplan/forensicchemistry09adv.html