Before we begin, I have a gentle request. I have listed many Universities and colleges here, but I don't necessarily know the details of admission procedures. Rules and regulations, admission criteria and other details keep changing from year to year, and I can't possibly keep track of all the info. You have got to contact the respective Colleges/Universities to get that information. If you want to share this information (or any other forensic career related information for that matter) with all of us, you may want to contact me by Email/phone/snail mail, and send that information to me. I will put that information on this page, with due credit to you. Let this page be a common pool of collective wisdom, where we all contribute and from where we all benefit. Now to the real thing!
I love talking to young intelligent students on matters of forensic science, and especially on careers related to forensic science. One of my most memorable experiences was when I talked on "Forensic Engineering" to a group of highly intelligent students at IIT, Bombay in February 2002. The students were fantastic; I thoroughly enjoyed being with them and talking to them on this confluence of the two specialties. The students appeared to enjoy my slides and animations too. I heard some of them seriously wanted to become forensic engineers after that!
I have talked to many students (over phone mostly) who have a great love for forensics, and would love to pursue a course in it. But they are hesitant to join it. Why? Because they have heard from someone that the scope for Forensics is limited in our country. This is simply not true. My answer to this is simple - Your scope for ANY job is limited if you are mediocre in your specialty. And that includes Forensics. If you excel in your subject, there is no reason, why you can not make a name for you and your country.
A number of bright youngsters are today looking for unexplored areas where they can achieve success quickly and rise to big positions in a relatively short span of time. If you are a youngster with this view, this page is for you.
Gujarat Forensic Sciences University, India offers a number of courses related to Forensic Science. The full address of the University is
Gujarat Forensic Sciences University
DFS Head Quarters, Sector 18-A
Near Police Bhavan
Punjabi University, Patiala, India offers a two year course of M.Sc. in Forensic Science. There are ten seats per batch. To be eligible you must have either of the following: (i)B.Sc. (Medical/Non-Medical) (ii) BDS (iii) MBBS. The university offers specialization in forensic biology, forensic serology, forensic chemistry and forensic toxicology. For more information, please contact, Dr. O.P. Jasuja. Full information about him is as follows:
Dr. O.P. Jasuja,
Reader in Forensic Science
Punjabi University, Patiala-147 002
Tel (R) 91-175-2285505
Tel (O) 91-175-2282461-65 EXT. 6342
Fax (O) 91-175-2282882 AND 2283073
You can also E-mail him by clicking over his name.
For more information on Dr. Jasuja please visit:http://www.anilaggrawal.com/ij/vol_001_no_001/editors.html
For more information on Forensic Science Department at Patiala, please Click here
The department offers two Masters Degree courses. These are M.A. (Master of Arts) in Criminology, and M.Sc. (Master of Science) in Forensic Science and Forensic Toxicology. Each course has 12 seats. The selection is on merit basis. Admissions start in June every year (or sometimes in July). These courses are also taught at Graduate level (Both B.A. and B.Sc. Level). The department has a well-equipped laboratory for conducting experiments
Another course offered by this University is a six-month Diploma course in Criminology and Forensic Science. But this diploma is meant only for the Police officials of the Madhya Pradesh State. Please contact the University to check if you can be admitted to this course as a special case.
Research Programmes in Criminology and Forensic Science are also conducted.
This University offers an MA in Criminology. Eligibility is a valid Bachelor’s degree.
This University offers an MA in Criminology. Eligibility is a valid Bachelor’s degree. You may want to visit the University's website by clicking here.
This institute offers a course in Criminology and Forensic Science. Eligibility is a valid Bachelor’s degree in Physics, Chemistry or Applied Science. MBBS, BDS, and B.Pharm. students are also accepted.
Karnataka University offers M.A. (Masters in Arts) in Criminology and M.Sc. in Forensic Science and Forensic Toxicology. To be eligibile, you have to have a BA, B.Sc. or B.Com. degree with a minimum of 50% aggregate. The admission is through an entrance test.
This University offers an M.Sc. in Forensic Science.
This institute offers Criminology as a specialization course with Masters in Social Work programme.
Offers a certificate course in Forensic Science
This institute is a premier body conducting traning and research in the field of Forensic Science. It offers research programmes and diplomas in Forensic Science. Officials who can attend these programs are police officers, forensic scientists, judges, research scholars, and senior officials from various forensic laboratories. For details please visit their official website at http://nicfs.nic.in/. Or contact director of the institute Mr. Sharda Prasad at email@example.com
This University started a Masters course as well as a P.G. Diploma course in Forensic Sciences in 2003. This information was provided to me on 23 June 2003 by a student Bindu Chacko.
Are you an accomplished programmer? Or do you want to take up programming as a career? Well, why not make programs for forensic professionals. There is much in it for you. Forensic Professionals need expert programmers like you. Why, you may ask? Well, at the end of a year, most of them want to know, how many autopies they did on, say, drowned individuals, how many of them were between, say, 15 and 20 years of age, how many of them drowned in, say, fresh water and how many in sea water, and so on. To get all this data in a jiffy, you need to write a good program.
Or do you want to take up forensic programming as a career? If you do, please take time out to visit this forensic programming page.
Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice,
Manonmaniam Sundaranar University,
Abhishekapatti, Tirunelveli, 627 012 Tamil Nadu
This department offers MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice Science, which is a two year master's degree programme.
Eligibility: Any bachelor's degree
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This information was provided to me on 14 April 2004 by Dr.Jaishankar Karuppannan, who is affiliated with this University. The good doctor continues:
We also offer PhD programmes. You can visit our dept website at http://www.doccj.co.nr
Apart from the regular programme we also have distance education programme in criminology. This is a unique programme offered for the first time in the whole of the country. The details are as follows:
M.A. in Criminology and Police Science
This course is offered by the Directorate of Distance and Continuing Education, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Abhishekapatti,Tirunelveli, 627 012 Tamil Nadu
A college affiliated under this university offers BSc in Police Science and Criminology.
For full details all the programmes Please contact
Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice
Manonmaniam Sundaranar University
Abhishekappatti, Tirunelveli 627 012
Tamil Nadu INDIA
The department also brings out a monthly newsletter
One can download these issues from the following links
Crime and Justice Perspective January issue
Crime and Justice Perspective February issue
Crime and Justice Perspective March issue
Right-click the above links and then select "Save target as..."
The good doctor further advises readers to visit them at http://www.doccj.co.nr
There is a great need of Forensic Scientists today around the world, especially in India. Business Today of February 27, 2005 ran a special article on "Need for Forensic Scientists" in their column "Jobs Today". I have scanned that complete article and am producing it here for the benefit of all. The images you see are in low resolution. Click each image to get a high resolution image so you can read the article. Or right click on each image and then click "Save Link As..." to save the high resolution picture, which you can then read in your favorite picture program.
Can I do B.Sc. in Forensic Science? Two institutes in India offer B.Sc. in Forensic Science. These are:
To know about Amity, please visit www.amity.edu, or phone 1600-11-00-00 (Toll Free) or 011-24331000. Amity has campuses in Delhi, NOIDA, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar and Raipur.
Amity Institute offers the following four courses in Forensic Science.
Can I do an M.Sc. in Forensic Science? Yes, of course. Amity Institute as mentioned above is one institute which offers a course in M.Sc. Forensic Science. In general, to be eligible for an M.Sc. Course in Forensic Sciences in any of the above universities, you should have a bachelor's degree, preferably with a first division in physics, chemistry, zoology, or botany. You can find out about the details of admission to this course from your local state university. Once you have done the M.Sc. successfully you can even go for a Ph.D. in Forensic Sciences.
In your M.Sc. Course you can choose a field of specialization such as forensic ballistics, forensic entomology, forensic botany and so on.
How can I become a Forensic Pathologist? To become a forensic pathologist (the specialist who conducts post-mortems on dead human bodies to find out the cause of death, the time and manner of death and so on), you must first do an MBBS degree and then go for an MD degree in Forensic Medicine. Almost all Indian Universities which offer M.B.B.S courses, also offer an M.D. in Forensic Medicine.
I want to become a Fingerprint expert. What should I do? Do an M.Sc. in Forensic Science as advised above.
I want to be a private Sherlock Holmes. What should I do? Investigation of crime is not allowed on a private basis in our country. It is done only by the police, and they take the help of Govt. agencies such as forensic science laboratories etc. If you want to become a private detective, you will have to restrict yourself to civil cases such as marriage and divorce etc. For more information, ring me up.
I don't want to join a formal course. Will reading of Sherlock Holmes stories help me? To a certain extent, YES. They will certainly help you to think logically. But they CAN NOT make you a detective all on their own. For that you MUST join a formal forensic science course. You may be surprised, Sherlock Holmes stories were at one time included as a course for the London Metropolitan Police force. If you want to read these stories, don't just pick up any book. Read ONLY "The Annotated Sherlock Holmes - The Four Novels and Fifty-six short stories complete". This book is lavishly illustrated with maps, diagrams, photographs and drawings, and gives all 60 works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This book is edited by William S. Baring-Gould, with an introduction, notes and bibliography, and is easily the best book available on Sherlock Holmes today. This book is out of print now, but a used copy can be bought from amazon.com. I own a 1992 edition published by Wings Books, and I still read it occasionally. I am giving the cover of the book here.
There is a lot of other literature on Sherlock Holmes too (including videos and CDs). Please click on the cover of the book to explore that. The link will take you to a page from my Internet Journal of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology. Go to "Sherlockiana" section, and click on the book you want to read about.
There is another little known book which can help you. This is written by Satyabrata Dam. It is called "Eyewitness". To read more about this book, please click here.
So what are the rewards of joining Forensic Sciences? The first and foremost is that it is a challenging field, which fills you with lot of job satisfaction. The field is relatively unknown at present. Not many youngsters are aware of this discipline, so job positions are relatively easy to get, and you get a raise in hierarchical position very quickly. Above all, you can have the satisfaction of playing the real Sherlock Holmes!
I am a Commerce graduate. Certainly there should be no scope for me in Forensic science. Or is there some hope? The answer is a surprising "Yes". Many youngsters have written to ask me that they are commerce graduates and is it possible for them to join forensic science in some way. The beauty of forensic science is that almost anybody with knowledge in almost any field can become a forensic scientist. Even a locksmith can examine locks for forensic purposes! Commerce graduates can easily take up forensic accounting as a career. It is not possible for me to give in any detail about this specialty, but you would do well reading the following book:
Financial Investigation and Forensic Accounting by George A. Manning, C.F.E., E.A. (CRC Press, 2000). This book costs $69.95 and can be bought through Amazon or directly through CRC Press. Its site is at http://www.crcpress.com/
Great! But what exactly is Forensic Accounting? Forensic accounting is the application of accounting or bookkeeping to civil and criminal matters. It you want to become a forensic accountant, you would use your auditing and investigative skills to investigate cases of suspected financial malfeasance. You may be asked to opine in such cases as embezzlement, fraud, money laundering, white-collar crime, and various aspects of organized and syndicated crime. As a forensic accountant, you would perform both internal and external audits.
I am getting a feel of it. What exactly are internal and external audits? Internal audits are conducted "internally", i.e. on behalf of the accountant’s employer to determine whether various laws and prescribed operational guidelines have been observed by other employees. External audits - as the name implies - are "externally" commissioned. They are performed at the behest of law enforcement or regulatory agencies, court-appointed referees, and others, to determine whether individuals or organizations under scrutiny have conducted business in a lawful and ethical manner. When you would complete your investigation, you would also be requested to assist prosecutors or civil attorneys with preparation of exhibits for presentation at trial.
You may be surprised to know that there is a journal of forensic accounting too, which is published regularly. Its Editor-in-Chief is D. Larry Crumbley. You may want to visit the journal's website by clicking here. Lots of related information is available on this website. Do visit it!
Recently I have been contacted by Vijay Narayan Govind, a chartered Accountant with active interest in forensic accounting and auditing. You may want to contact him by clicking here.
For Forensic accounting scene in India, please click here.
I am an entomologist. What are my chances? Some bright youngsters with a Ph.D. Degree in entomology wrote to me asking how they could join forensic sciences. They could pursue a course in Forensic Entomology and become very successful Forensic Entomologists. These are the specialists who can help the law by their specialized knowledge of insects. For instance, if a corpse is infested with maggots, they can study them and can tell the time of death of that person. The cause of death could also be inferred in some cases, especially if the person was poisoned. If that were the case, maggots would ingest some of it along with the flesh. If the person was completely reduced to bones, the maggots could still be examined for the poison, because they had ingested it. If the maggots had metamorphosed into adult flies and had flown away, even then the poison ingested could be found out! How? Well, before turning into adults, the maggots first pupate. For this they move out of the body. About a few yards away from the body, they pupate and when they become adults, the pupa shells are left behind. A careful search around the body would enable the forensic entomologist to successfully identify them. These pupa shells can be examined and analysed for poisons. If the poison was present in the body in the first place, it would be ingested by maggots, and in turn passed on to the pupa shells. Forensic entomologists have even taken out the DNA of a dead individual from the guts of maggots and have successfully found out about the identity of the deceased person!
Get the idea? Needless to say, Forensic Entomology can be great fun. But how to go about it? Well, I am no entomologist, but what I can suggest you is that you contact John Kunich, by clicking on his name. He is a great forensic entomologist. I read his book ENTOMOLOGY AND THE LAW: FLIES AS FORENSIC INDICATORS, which is excellent. You may want to buy and read this book by clicking here, or on the cover of the book on the right. This is the only book (that I am aware of) that thoroughly covers both the law and the science of forensic entomology. Dr. Kunich has included a detailed examination of the law of scientific evidence, not only within the United States but in several other nations as well. I think this book will be very valuable to you, in case you want to pursue a course in Forensic Entomology.
Another very good book on Forensic entomology that I can suggest you is Maggots, Murder and Men - Memories and reflections of a forensic entomologist by Zakaria Erzinçlioglu. It was first published by Harley Books in 2000 (Natural History Publishers, Martins, Great Horkesley, Colchester, Essex CO6 4AH, UK. Phone: 01206 271216; Fax: 01206 271182; E-Mail: email@example.com). Its details are as follows:
256 Pages: ISBN 0-946589-65-8: Price £13.95.
Later - in 2002 - it was also published by Thomas Dunne Books, which is an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, (A Member of the St. Martin's Press group, Minotaur Books, 175 5th Avenue, NY, NY 10010, Fax: 212-674-6132). You can buy the book directly by visiting their site at:
http://www.minotaurbooks.com, or from Amazon by clicking here. Its details are:
256 Pages: ISBN 0-312-28774-7: Price $23.95, Can $33.95
Fortunately both Harley Books and Thomas Dunne Books were kind enough to send me an examination copy. I have gone through this book and have found it an extremely useful book.
This book gives a number of actual cases solved by the great Forensic Entomologist Zakaria Erzinçlioglu. The cases are narrated in a chatty style. Once you pick up the book, you can not put it down; that is for sure. I enjoyed reading this book thoroughly, and I am sure, you would share my experience. Clicking on the covers would take you to the amazon site, from where you can purchase the books online.
Covers of both these books say a lot. In the cover by Harley, you see a forensic entomologist examining the posterior spiracles of a maggot with his pocket lens. There is a blood stained knife in the background and a few drops of blood, indicating murder. In the cover by Thomas Dunne, you see an old style pocket watch with three flies over and around it. The pocket watch represents the time of death, of which flies are a very good indicator!
You may also want to visit the following two sites:
Another good forensic entomologist that you can contact for advice is Mark Benecke of Germany.
I am a dentist by training. What are my chances? Well, you could pursue a lucrative career in Forensic odontology. These are the specialists who help the law by virtue of their specialized knowledge of teeth and surrounding oral structures. For instance if a forensic pathologist finds teeth bite marks in, say, a case of death associated with sexual assault, he might want to call a forensic odontologist to assist him. The odontologist would make a dental cast from the teeth bite marks. This dental cast could be matched with that made from several suspects. Traces of saliva found around bite marks can assist in the identification of the culprit. Lip prints found on various objects, such as around cups and glasses can often help in the identification of a suspect. Some experts think lip prints can be as unique as finger prints. Much work however needs to be done in this nascent field known as cheiloscopy (the study of lip prints). You could be one of its pioneers. There is a very good journal devoted completely to the science of Forensic odontology. It is called "The Journal of Forensic Odonto-Stomatology", and can be accessed by clicking here. If you want to know more about forensic odontology, you can contact my friend Bryan Chrz, who incidentally is one of the best in the field.
I am a mathematician. Can I join the forensic field in some way? So you are a mathematician! Good. You might think there is no scope for you in Forensic Science - and you would be WRONG. Mathematicians can become successful forensic statisticians. These are the specialists who guide the courts regarding the possibility (or statistical probability) of an accused being an actual criminal. If the killed person had a blood group, say, "B", and you find blood stains of the same group on the clothes of an accused, what is the probability that he actually killed the person? If a lost (and recovered) newborn baby has a blood group, say, "AB+", and the alleged mother is "O-" and the alleged father "A+", what is the probability that the child actually belonged to this couple. If a witness saw a green car speeding away from the scene of crime in the evening, what is the probability that he actually saw a green car, and not a blue car, which he mistook for green (because of fading light). Questions like this often take into account Bayes theorem. For more information, you may want to read the following books:
Both these books cover the whole gamut of forensic statistics very comprehensively. If you know your statistics basics, you would hardly have any difficulty understanding these books on your own. Do try these books, if you are serious about becoming a forensic statistician. Both of them are excellent. I have gone through them, and although I am no mathematician, I could follow them easily.
Would you like to talk to a forensic statistician for more knowledge? Well, try your luck contacting the following forensic statisticians (click on their names). All of them are great statisticians, but rather busy, so they might take some time to reply to your queries. I contacted all of them (for a different purpose though), and they were gracious enough to reply to my letters. Here is the list:
If you are interested in knowing how mathematics can be used for forensic purposes, especially for Forensic DNA interpretation, you may want to contact Charles Brenner. Try his excellent site on Forensic mathematics by clicking here.
You may also want to read the following excellent book:
Interpreting DNA Evidence: Statistical Genetics for Forensic Scientists, 1st Edition by Ian W. Evett and Bruce S. Weir. Softcover, 6" x 9".
Sinauer Associates, Inc., Publishers, 23 Plumtree Road, P.O. Box 407, Sunderland, MA 01375-0407, Phone: (413) 549-4300, Fax: (413) 549-1118. Publication Date 1998. xvi + 278 pages, ISBN 0-87893-155-4. Price $43.95
This book can be bought either through amazon, or you may want to visit the publisher's site at http://www.sinauer.com/. You may also want to try out this link. The book having 30 illustrations, provides a rational basis for interpreting DNA evidence. Although it is based on modern theories of statistics and population genetics, it also rests on the principles of forensic science. While aimed at the undergraduate level, its primary audience is forensic science and legal professionals. If you are aiming to become a forensic statistician, go for this book. It is very highly recommended.
Forensic DNA typing sounds interesting to me. I have done a course in genetics, and would like to enter this field. What should I do? You have chosen a very promising field. Please contact following persons, who are masters in this field.
1. K. Thangaraj
Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology
2. Rajiv Giroti
Central Forensic Science Laboratory
3. Dr. M.S. Rao
Director-cum-Chief Forensic Scientist
Ministry of Home Affairs
Block no. 11, 4th Floor
New Delhi-110 003
4. C.S. Paulose
Director, Center for neuroscience
Department of Biotechnology
Cochin University of Science and Technology
Cochin-682 022, Kerala
Phone: (0484)2576267 [O]
(0485)2812428, 2812510 [R]
5. Dr. Lalji Singh,
6. Saurav Guha
DNA Typing Unit
Advanced Center for Biomedical Sciences
Central Forensic Science Laboratory
30, Gorachand Road
Want to know more about Forensic DNA typing? Well, long time back I wrote an article on Forensic DNA typing, which dealt with basic procedure and genetics involved. It was published in a leading science monthly of India, Science Today. The exact reference of the article is:
Aggrawal A. DNA Fingerprinting. Science Today, March 1988, Pages 10-15
I have made a scan of that article, which anyone can download for personal study. This article would be most useful for beginners. Please note that this article deals with the technique that was prevalent in late 80s (when the article was written), i.e. RFLP (Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism). Now this technique is almost obsolete. It has now been replaced with STR technique (Short Tandem Repeats). Nevertheless, the article should provide lot of information for beginners, especially those who are investigating the evolution of this amazing technique [Click each page to enlarge, or right click on the image and then press "save target as"].
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Did this article generate some interest in you in the subject of Forensic DNA Typing? If yes, you might want to read an excellent book on STR analysis. It is written by a renowned authority in the field of Forensic DNA Typing, Dr. John Butler (For an interview of Dr. Butler conducted by me, please click here). It is called "Forensic DNA Typing - Biology, Technology and Genetics of STR Markers". Its first edition which came out in 2001 was a bestseller (please click here to know more about that edition). In 2005, the publishers (Elsevier Academic Press) have come out with the second edition. How much material has been added in this edition can be gauged from the fact that while the first edition had 322 pages, this one has an astounding 660 pages! Very rarely have I seen an edition growing so rapidly. This also reflects the rapidity with which this field is evolving. This edition costs about $79.95.
The publishers were kind enough to send me a copy for perusal. I have gone through this book from cover to cover, and I can say this is the MOST IMPORTANT book on Forensic DNA Typing in the market today. You can pick up one through amazon by clicking on the cover of the book here. The link will also take you to a number of other interesting books on Forensic DNA Typing which you may want to read. Happy reading!
I have heard a lot about forensic toxicology. What do these people do, and how can I become one? Please visit my Forensic toxicology page by clicking here. You will get answers to several of your questions. To get details on how to become a forensic toxicologist, please contact:
Dr.V.V.Pillay, Chief, Poison Control Centre,
Dept. of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology,
Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences,
Elamakkara, Cochin 682026.
Phones - 0484-339080, Ext.8052 (O);
0484-807055 (R); 98952 82388 (Cell).
To acquire more information on Forensic Toxicology, you can join a very popular newsgroup called "Criminal Poisoning" by clicking here.
Many nurses have contacted me asking if there is any scope for them to get involved in Forensics. Yes, certainly there is. They can take up a lucrative career in Forensic Nursing. To know more about forensic nursing, please get in touch with Ms. Virginia Lynch, who is a certified Forensic Nurse, working in USA. To contact her via Email, please click here.
Some people have written that they are experienced photographers, and is it possible for them to take up forensic science in any way. Yes, they could take up Forensic Photography, which is fast becoming a lucrative career. They can profitably go through the following book for more information:
The Practical Methodology of Forensic Photography, Second Edition by David R. Redsicker (CRC Press). This book can also be bought online.
If you are a trained artist, you can take up forensic art and illustration as a career. For more information you can go through the following book.
Forensic Art and Illustration, 1st Edition, by Karen T. Taylor (CRC Press).
For more information about this book, you may want to click here
I am an architect. What options do I have? You can specialize in architecture of mortuaries and forensic science institutes. Mortuaries have special architectural requirements. These include special spaces or enclosures to receive dead bodies, to interact with police and other law enforcement agencies, to preserve dead bodies for long periods, to conduct post-mortem examinations and so on. An architect must take into account all these considerations, before he can design an impressive and effective institute. Well, in this short space, it may not be possible for me to explain you everything. Those of you who want to know more can contact Manidipa Basu of the J.J. School of Arts and Architecture who has completed a very good project on a similar subject. To contact Manidipa Basu, please click here
I am a psychologist/psychiatrist by training. You don't want to tell me I too have chances in the forensic field? Well, why not? You can become a forensic psychologist and/or a forensic psychiatrist. What is their exact role? Consider this situation. A person has committed a murder. Most countries have a law whereby an insane person is exempted from punishment if he has committed a crime (including murder). In India, section 84 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), specifically makes this provision. So naturally one of the strategies of the defence is to prove that the accused was insane at the time of committing the murder. How does one decide whether he was really insane or not? Well, call the forensic psychiatrist!
If you are really interested in forensic psychology, I would suggest you two excellent books, which I have gone through, and which I have found most appealing. Both have been published by John Wiley. They are:
Another good link to follow (for forensic psychology) is this. This gives information about another good book called "Introduction to Forensic Psychology". This book has been published by Academic Press. For more information on this book, please click here.
Want to know more about forensic psychiatry? Well, why not contact my friend George Palermo, who is a highly successful forensic psychiatrist. He has written a number of books on forensic psychiatry, and you would surely benefit from his advice. Another expert you can contact is Marianne Kristiansson of Sweden.
To know more about Forensic Psychology, you may want to visit the excellent page by Dr. Margaret A. Lloyd. It's called "Marky Lloyd's Careers in Psychology Page", and can be accessed by clicking here. You can even contact her for personal advice by Clicking here.
I have specialized in botany. What are my chances? Good! You could become a forensic botanist. These are the people who utilize their knowledge of botany in the investigation of crime. One of the very first cases, which utilized the knowledge of trees and plants in the investigation of crime was the kidnapping of the 19 month old infant son of Charles A. Lindbergh (1902-1974), the famous aviator, who will always be remembered for the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic, from New York to Paris, on May 20-21, 1927.
Charles Augustus, Jr., Lindbergh’s son was kidnapped from the second floor of his newly completed home in Hopewell, New Jersey, sometime between 8 and 10 pm on March 1, 1932. The kidnapper had used a home made ladder (having cleats rather than rungs) to get into the second floor. The ladder was found at the scene.
Although a ransom of 50,000 dollars was paid (in marked bills), the highly decomposed body of the infant was found on May 12, 1932, in a wood about two miles from the Lindbergh estate.
A suspect Bruno Hauptmann was apprehended more than two years later (on September 19, 1934). A massive forensic investigation followed. One of the experts who participated in this investigation was the wood expert Arthur Koehler (1885-1967), who (applying his knowledge of tress and their wood) traced the wood used in the ladder to a Lumber Company in Bronx, New York. Hauptmann worked in this company. Furthermore Koehler studied the wood serving as the floor of the attic of Hauptman’s apartment. A piece of wood had been sawn off it and had been used to make the ladder. By studying the grain of the two pieces (wood on the floor of the attic of Hauptman’s apartment, and wood used in the ladder), Koehler could say that the they once formed the same piece. On April 3, 1936, Hauptmann went to the electric chair.
The following article is written by Arthur Koehler (who can be regarded as the father of modern forensic botany) about this case. Readers wanting to know more can refer to this article.
Koehler Arthur (1937) Techniques used in tracing the Lindbergh Kidnapping ladder. Am J Police Science;27:5
This case in all its detail can also be read from:
Graham SA (1997) Anatomy of the Lindbergh kidnapping. J For Sci; 42(3): 368-377
Another good article on the same case appeared in The Microscope, Vol. 31, no. 1 (1983), pages 1-14. This interesting case is also reproduced in a number of books. Two of the best that I can recommend are (i) Criminalistics - An Introduction to Forensic Science by Richard Saferstein (7th Edition, 2000) and (ii) The casebook of forensic detection - How Science solved 100 of the World's most baffling crimes by Colin Evans
Here are some more examples of how a forensic botanist can help in the investigation of crime.
(i) A dead body is found in a forest. The crime investigation team calls a forensic botanist. He recovers several pollen grains from the dead man’s shirt, which come from fir trees. There are no fir trees around. The inevitable conclusion: Either the man worked in an area where there were fir tress, or he was murdered at such a place. The police look around and ten miles away find a place where there are fir trees. Some blood is found, which can be matched with that of the murder victim. Some tire marks are found at this “new” scene of crime, from which the murderer’s car can be identified and he is apprehended. Had the forensic botanist not told about fir trees, the police would never have ventured as far as ten miles away from the scene of crime!
(ii) A dead body is lying in a forest. The leaves and grass under his body have turned yellow. If shielded from the sun, leaves and grass loose their chlorophyll in a certain fixed interval of time (two weeks minimum). From this observation it can be said that the body was lying there for at least two weeks (Calculation of the time since death)
(iii) A thief enters the house of a person through a window on the first floor. The entry is through his garden. The thief is clever enough to use gloves to prevent leaving fingerprints. He also takes care to wipe all footprints, and thinks he has done a perfect crime. Next day about ten suspects are rounded up, who were seen loitering around that region at the time the burglary was committed. The police asks them to submit their clothes. A forensic botanist examines the pollen grains found on the clothes of all. Only the clothes of the actual criminal actually match the “pollen print” of the victim’s garden. He is apprehended.
(iv) What is a “pollen print”? Well, every geographical area - small or large - has a unique “pollen print”. It refers to the specific combination of the types of pollens and spores found only in that area. The specific ration of the pollen grains further “individualizes” the pollen print. Let us imagine that the victim above grew 5 different types of flowers in his garden - roses, marigolds, Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus), petunia and tulips, and they were in such numbers that the ambient air in and around the garden contained pollens in the following ratio:
Roses: marigolds: Carnation: petunia: tulips = 25%:10%:20%:30%:15%
This is the “pollen print” of the victim’s garden. On entering the garden, the suspect would have gone through this ambient air, and the pollens would have stuck to his clothes in roughly the same ratio. Any other suspect who has not been to that garden is very unlikely to have the very same pollen in the very same ration. It has even been said that pollen prints could have been used in the famous O.J.Simpson case. It is known that the person who killed Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown and her boy friend Ron Goldman on the night of June 12, 1994 hid in ambush under a flowering willow tree before escaping. In this situation the killer's hair and clothes would have got heavily soiled with the pollen from this tree. All the police had to do was to collect pollen samples from the hair and clothes of O.J.Simpson. Had willow pollen been found in these places, it would have been very difficult for the defense to account for them. On the other hand if no willow pollen had been found, the defence case would have got stronger, and there would be much less suspicion surrounding the case today. It is however a fact that the only country to use forensic botany in courts on a regular basis is NewZealand. Police personnel in other countries are simply not aware of its many potentials.
Pollen prints are now used in investigation of terrorism. Suspect letters, letter bombs etc would have the pollen print of the area where they originated. Thus the origin of such letters can be determined. The science of analyzing pollen and spores to help solve criminal cases is known as Forensic palynology.
For more help you may want to contact the following experts, who are world renowned experts on forensic botany.
David O. Norris: david.norris@buffmail.Colorado.EDU
Jane H. Bock: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some useful literature (paper citations etc.) on forensic botany can be seen at:
I am interested in firearms and want to become a forensic ballistic expert. What should I do? Well, I told you something about forensic ballistics earlier. However two best forensic ballistic experts that I know of are (i) Gerald L. Hurst and (ii) James L. Roberts. Click on their names to send mails to them. Both of them are quite helpful and would be too glad to help you. Good luck!
I know a lot about computers. Can I also be a forensic specialist? Great! You certainly can. You can have a bright future in computer forensics. These are the specialists who can analyse a computer and tell to the police all the illegal activities going on through that. If someone has been sending offending, threatening or sexually explicit mails to other persons, he can no more get away by simply denying his involvement. A computer forensic specialist can sit at his computer and can retrieve all the messages he has been sending through it. You might think that deleting these messages from the computer would erase all evidence, but this is not the case, as any computer specialist will tell you. People who have been throwing computer viruses through the internet have been caught in a similar way. There are a host of other illegal activities in the field of computers, such as hacking, altering banking records, personnel information etc, which can be caught by a forensic computer specialist.
These days, high tech crimes are being carried out by passing on messages through internet, Emails, websites etc. A forensic computer specialist can catch all of them. In a recent case of attack on the Indian Parliament by some terrorists (13 December 2001), a laptop was found in the possession of some of their supporters, and lot of incriminating information could be retrieved from it. On the basis of that information, more terrorists were later apprehended.
Amity Institute (please see above), offers a one year PG Diploma in Cyber Crime and Cyber Law.
If you want to read more on this fascinating subject, three of the best books that I can heartily recommend to all of you are:
I am an Engineer by Profession. I want to learn about Forensic Science. And is there some way I can become a forensic specialist? Yes, you can have a very lucrative career in an exciting discipline called Forensic Engineering. If a structure (a building, a bridge etc.) was demolished by, say, planting a bomb inside (or by sabotage in any other manner), a clever forensic engineer can examine the nature and extent of damage to tell the investigating authorities, where the bomb was planted. These are the specialists who can examine the extent of damage on crashed vehicles and tell the investigating authorities the speed with which the vehicles were travelling at the time of the crash. Or they can examine the tyre tracks on the roads to tell which driver applied brakes and which didn't. Knowing the speed of vehicles is obviously very important, because if one of the vehicles had overstepped the normal driving speed in a city (normally 40 km/hr), that driver is obviously the culprit. There are a number of other ways in which engineers can help the law and crime investigating agencies.
I am a meteorologist. What kind of a forensic specialist can I become? Great! Meteorology, as we all know, comprises of a systematic study of short-term (i.e. day-to-day) variations in temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind, cloud cover, and precipitation, along with their causes. It provides the basis for weather forecasting. Meteorology is closely related to, but distinct from, climatology, which deals with weather conditions in a given area over an extended period of time (from a month to many millions of years).
You can have a great career in forensic meteorology and can become a very successful forensic meteorologist.
Forensic Meteorology entails researching weather documents for use in court room litigation. Some meteorologists simply hand the information over and state that conditions are favorable for the formation of ice, snow, water, lightning or some other form of weather phenomena that led to the accident (be it fire, auto accident, hypothermia.....). The work of some forensic meteorologists goes further in that they inspect sites where the accident occurred and look at factors not depicted on weather maps/charts and that includes terrain layout. This takes it down to a micro climate which can drastically affect how the weather affects you. So, instead of someone being charged in a vehicle manslaughter case, they would find that strong winds funneled through a low valley and channeled through an open field and created wind speed sheer which made the driver over-correct on a slippery road, thereby causing the accident where someone died. (Act of GOD) as the Court defines it.
Like it? Well, if you want to know more about forensic meteorology, consult my friend Greg MacMaster, who is a very successful forensic meteorologist. You can send him an Email by clicking here.
I am doing homeopathy course. How can I be a Forensic Science expert? If you are a homeopathy student or have already done homeopathy and have a great interest in forensic, you are welcome in this field. It holds special promise for Homeopathy students, as they know a lot about poisons. You must surely be aware of the father of homeopathy Samuel Hahnemann [1755-1843].
He was originally an allopath, but soon lost his romance with that system. He discovered a new principle called "Similia similibus curantur", i.e. "Like cures like".
This simple principle makes you a great toxicology expert automatically.
As a homeopathy practitioner, you daily prescribe a lot of drugs, which are made from traditional poisons.
Take for example Arsenicum Album, which is prescribed for all-prevailing debility, exhaustion, restlessness and great exhaustion after the slightest exertion. These are the very symptoms produced if somebody takes arsenic.
When arsenic is prepared as a homeopathic remedy, we start from white arsenic only [Arsenicum Album in English means white arsenic or As2O3] Through potentisation its healing qualities are accentuated while unwanted side-effects are eliminated.
So if you see a poisoned man, you are better equipped to recognize his poisoning.
To know more about this, please read the ONLY BOOK ON FORENSIC MEDICINE SPECIALLY WRITTEN FOR HOMEOPATHY. Please click on the picture below. In case you want a kindle edition, you may click here.
If you want to read a sampling of this book, you may download 32 pages of this book by Clicking here
I am doing Ayurveda course. How can I be a Forensic Science expert? If you are an Ayurveda student or have already done Ayurveda and have a great interest in forensic, you are welcome in this field. It holds special promise for Ayurveda students, as they know a lot about local Indian herbs and minerals which can cause poisoning. To know more about this, please read the ONLY BOOK ON FORENSIC MEDICINE SPECIALLY WRITTEN FOR AYURVEDA PROFESSIONALS. Please click on the picture below. In case you want a kindle edition, you may click here
If you want to read a sampling of this book, you may download 32 pages of this book by Clicking here
I am a physiologist. I have specialized in physiology. Is there a specialty called forensic physiology? If yes, what do forensic physiologists do? Yes, indeed there is a specialty called forensic physiology and you can be a successful forensic physiologist. These specialists utilize their knowledge of physiology to help law enforcing authorities in a number of ways. Several examples can be given but I will give just one.
Let us imagine that a person was found dead in his bedroom in the morning at about 6 am, when his maid came to clean his room. Everybody saw him take his evening meals at around 10 pm, after which he went to bed. Thus clearly he died sometime between 10 pm and 6 am, but nobody knows the exact time of death. This information may be very vital to the police. A forensic physiologist would look at the deceased's stomach contents and can opine the time he survived after taking the meals. Usually the stomach empties completely in about 3 hours, but a lot depends on the type of food taken (vegetarian or non-vegetarian; solid or liquid; less in quantity or more; high in calories or low; hot or cold; spicy or bland and so on). A lot also depends on the psychological state of the person. For instance if the person is emotionally tense, the food tends to stay in the stomach for a longer time. The emptying of stomach stops when the person dies, and the food remains where it was. A forensic physiologist would take all these factors in consideration. Seeing how much food has remained in the stomach and considering all the variables, he can opine the length of time the person remained alive after ingesting the food. Suppose in the given hypothetical case, the physiologist is of the opinion that the person survived about 2 hours after ingesting the food, it would mean that he died around 12 midnight (he took meals at 10 pm). This fact can be co-related with other police investigations to catch the criminal.
Similarly by determining the rectal temperature of the human body, one can determine the time since death. This too is an exercise in forensic physiology. For an actual example, you may want to click here. By seeing the amount of urine in the bladder, a forensic physiologist can opine upon the time of death. I once solved an actual case by this method. You can access this story by clicking here.
I am a podiatrist. What options do I have? You can practice Forensic Podiatry. Dr Wesley Vernon, Head of Podiatry Service and Research Lead at Sheffield tells me that Forensic podiatry covers the following subjects namely (i) Individualisation from footwear (ii) Barefoot print analysis (iii) CCTV individualisation and finally (iv) Identification using podiatry records. He goes on to say the following:
The added value of podiatric involvement in individualisation from plantar
morphology (both in barefoot and footwear situations) is in utilising podiatry
knowledge to consider the differences between plantar marks/impressions of the
same individual caused by interaction with the footwear or through function.
While forensic podiatry has been practised by a few individuals since the
1970's, the formal evidence-base is relatively limited, but is gradually being
added to. In the UK, this is handled quite nicely with the Bayesian approach to
evidence-handling, but the work very much operates at class and not unique level
for this reason.
The added value of podiatric involvement in individualisation from plantar morphology (both in barefoot and footwear situations) is in utilising podiatry knowledge to consider the differences between plantar marks/impressions of the same individual caused by interaction with the footwear or through function.
While forensic podiatry has been practised by a few individuals since the 1970's, the formal evidence-base is relatively limited, but is gradually being added to. In the UK, this is handled quite nicely with the Bayesian approach to evidence-handling, but the work very much operates at class and not unique level for this reason.
For more information, you can visit a very interesting site called BAHID (British Association for Human Identification) at www.bahid.org, where they have a separate section on forensic podiatry. You may also want to contact Dr. Wesley Vernon himself by clicking here.
I am a veterinary surgeon. What options do I have? Lovely! You can be a great forensic veterinary surgeon. A forensic veterinary surgeon conducts autopsies on dead animal bodies and tries to find out their cause of death, just as an ordinary forensic pathologist (like myself) conducts autopsies on human beings. You may ask why one would want to know the cause of death of an animal at all? Well, there could be a number of reasons, but I will give you just few. In this country (and presumably in several other countries too), one of the preferred ways to get even with an enemy is to kill his cattle (or pets). Many people do it in very clever ways to avert suspicion (you may want to visit my story on "poisoning by Ratti seeds" by clicking here, to get some idea of this). In such cases it is very important for the police to know how the cattle died. A forensic veterinary surgeon can do this very well, by conducting a thorough autopsy. In alleged spurious animal deals too a forensic veterinary specialist can help a great deal (to verify the age of the animal being sold such as horses, or other alleged specialties of the animal). You can also enter the field of wildlife forensics?
Wildlife forensics? Never heard of this. What is this? Wildlife forensic specialists are the ones who detect illegal trading in wildlife articles such as elephant tusks, lion and tiger skins, bones, furs - even internal organs of animals such as gall bladders! There are a host of animal products in which illegal trading goes on. This is against the Wild life Acts in most countries. I am personally aware of one case in which an international traveller was trying to smuggle bear bile! Bile is a greenish fluid found in gall bladders of animals, and according to some local beliefs, is thought to be a great cure for several diseases. When this person was intercepted at the customs, he asserted that it was some medicine (which indeed it was, but it was prohibited!). A forensic wild life specialist was given the task of analysing that sample, and he opined the fluid must have come from the gall bladder of a bear of a protected species. He could say this by analysing the chemical composition of the bile fluid. The smuggler was immediately arrested.
If you want to pursue a course in Wildlife forensics, please contact:
Dr. S.P.Goyal or Dr. Reeta Sharma
Wildlife Forensics Cell
Wildlife Institute of India
P.O.Box 18, G.P.O. Chandrabani
I am an ornithologist. I know everything about birds. Does that mean, I can also become a wildlife forensic expert? Certainly you can. But you can try your hand at a new, unique and upcoming specialty too - Forensic ornithology. This is a relatively new branch that uses the specialized knowledge of birds for the detection of crime. The originator of this fascinating science was a lady - an American who went on to become the leading forensic ornithologist of the world. Roxie C. Laybourne (1910-2003) solved so many cases with her specialized knowledge that she came to be known as "feather detective". One of her best cases occurred in 1960, when a Lockheed aircraft took off from Boston Logan airport and after sometime crashed into Boston Harbor. This naturally raised eyebrows everywhere. Laybourne was called as one of the experts to solve the mystery. She gathered bits of charred material from the engine intake areas and examined them under a microscope. To the utter disbelief of everyone, she suggested that the cause of crash was not some terroristic incident but clogging of one of the engines with a bird - a starling! This piece of remarkable detective work not only solved a great mystery but also forewarned the authorities to make modifications so that such incidents would not occur in future. As a result, modifications were made into the fan blades of engines (so birds may not get easily sucked into the engines). Airport authorities also undertook measures to discourage potentially hazardous bird species from nesting near airports.
This case does not deal with traditional murder, rape etc. Thus perhaps it may not appear particularly striking to those who tend to equate forensics with nothing but murder. But wait! Forensic ornithologists can help in the investigation of traditional murder too. In one such case a murderer smothered his victim - a female - with a pillow. The pillow was stuffed with feathers. During the struggle the pillow was torn and some feathers spilled onto the crime scene. The murderer cleaned the scene as much as possible and then decamped with the pillow. The forensic ornithologist found traces of feathers on the face of the victim and also on the bed. He was later shown the pillow recovered from the possession of the suspect. He could positively match the feathers as having come from the same source, and thus the murderer was caught.
I am an environmentalist. I deal with such issues as environmental pollution. Does forensic science hold anything for me? Sure. If you are an environment engineer, you can surely become involved in environmental forensics. Experts in environmental forensics seek to answer questions like when did the contamination occur, who caused the contamination, how did the contamination occur, how extensive was the contamination, what levels of contamination were the people exposed to and so on. Consider for example the Bhopal gas tragedy occurring on December 2, 1984, in which 2000 people died due to accidental release of Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) from a small pesticide division of Union Carbide Company manufacturing carbaryl. The compensation claims of the victims have not been released after more than 20 years. Its my personal belief that it is because the tragedy was not properly investigated by forensic environmentalists. If it had been, they would have been better able to fix responsibility and get the claims.
Environmental forensics is a complicated subject, but not difficult to pursue. It is a nascent field and you would do well to enter it. Recently Elsevier Academic Press sent me a copy of their latest book "Introduction to Environmental Forensics" edited by Brian L. Murphy and Robert D. Morrison. Its 12 chapters and 3 appendices have been written by a team of 17 such greats as Shelley Bookspan, Judith C. Chow, Julie Corley, James I. Ebert, Robert Ehrlich, Stephen Emsbo-Mattingly, William Full, Thomas D. Gauthier, A.J. Gravel, Glenn W. Johnson, Kevin J. McCarthy, Robert D. Morrion, Brian L. Murphy, R. Paul Philp, Scott A. Scout and John G. Watson.
I have read this book from cover to cover, and I can heartily recommend this book to all individuals who want to take up Environmental forensics as a career. Click on scientists' names above to send Emails to them to know more about environmental forensics. Click cover to buy book from amazon. This book should prove very useful for practicing forensic environmental engineers too, as it gives several good and instructive case studies.
I am an anthropologist. How can I be a forensic expert? Wonderful. So you have studied anthropology. Anthropology, as we all know is the study of human beings. In particular the anthropologists study human being's physical character, evolutionary history, racial classification, historical and present-day geographic distribution, group relationships, and cultural history. Anthropology can be characterized as the naturalistic description and interpretation of the diverse peoples of the world.
Modern-day anthropology consists of two major divisions. One is cultural anthropology, which deals with the study of human culture in all its aspects and the second is physical anthropology, which is the study of human physical character, in both the past and present. Although both specialists can contribute to forensic science in a number of ways, it is the physical anthropologists who are most useful.
The beginnings of forensic anthropology occurred with the studies of Dr. Thomas Dwight (1843-1911), who was based at the University of Harvard, Massachusetts. It was Dr. Dwight's research on bones which enabled us to know, how much information we can provide the police with them. Dr. Thomas Dwight - quite rightly - is now known as the father of American Forensic Anthropology.
Consider a case where some bones were recovered from an area inhabited thickly by Chinese and Asians and very few Caucasians. How can you say from the bones, if the murdered man was a Chinese Asian or a Caucasian? What can you know his height? His occupation? Well, these are the questions which are dealt with by the forensic anthropologists. The use of anthropology for the detection of crime is known as forensic anthropology. One can now even reconstruct the face of a person, if his skull is provided to an expert forensic anthropologist.
I am an archaeologist. I certainly can't join forensics, or can I? Oh, yes you can! You can become a forensic archaeologist and work in close harmony with forensic anthropologists about whom I have just described. You are obviously an expert in precise archaeological techniques used in the recovery of old historical material. You can use these very techniques in legal exhumations or in the recovery of human remains who may be victims of mass murder [as a result of genocides, such as those that occurred in Hitler's regime (late 1930s and early 1940s) and later in Khmer Rouge (during Pol Pot's regime between 1975-1979), Rwanda (in 1994), Guatemala (1962 till 1996, including the infamous Rio Negro Massacre in March 1982), Argentina (1976 till 1983), Chile (during Augusto Pinochet's regime in 1973), Yugoslavia and several other places world wide]. The use of archaeological techniques in the investigation of crime is known as forensic archaeology. One of the most famous cases in which forensic archaeology was used was the exhumation of Ernesto "Che" Guevara (1928-1967), a doctor of medicine and a revolutionary, who was born in Argentina but who ran resistance movements in other countries - most notably Cuba and Bolivia. Che Guevara was born in Rosario, Argentina on June 14, 1928 and studied medicine to become a doctor. But he did not pursue a career in medicine. Instead he fought along with Fidel Castro of Cuba in the late 1950s to overthrow Batista's regime. [Fulgencio Batista (1901-1973) was the dictator who twice ruled Cuba (in 1933-44 and again in 1952-59). As a dictator he jailed his opponents, using terrorist methods, and made fortunes for himself and his associates. He obviously became very unpopular]. In 1966 Guevara's attention was directed towards Bolivia, where he hoped to repeat his feats, but was brutally killed by the Bolivian army on Oct 9, 1967. His hands were sawn off by the soldiers in order to establish his identity (perhaps to convince their masters that he had indeed been killed). On October 12, 1967, when Che's brother came to Bolivia to claim his brother's body, he was denied it. The army claimed that the body had been cremated, while in fact it had been buried.
Things stood like this till July 1995, when Bolivian General Mario Vargas Salinas claimed that he had indeed participated in a mass burial near Vallegrande in Central Bolivia (close to a dirt airstrip), and that Che Guevara had indeed been buried there. Almost twenty eight years had passed since, and obviously complex archaeological techniques were required to unearth Guevara's body. A team of Forensic anthropologists and forensic archaeologists applying techniques as diverse as ground penetrating radar and digital imaging unearthed the remains of Che Guevara. His remains were identified using a variety of forensic techniques. Guevara - more than thirty years after his death - received a hero's welcome in Cuba, where his remains were reburied in July 1997 (in a mausoleum at Plaza Ernesto Che Guevara in Santa Clara, Cuba). Similar archaeological techniques have been applied in the investigation of war crimes and genocides.
There is a good book if you want to know more about such things. Please click either on the book or here to get it from amazon.
If you want to read a sampling of this book, you may download 32 pages of this book by Clicking here
I am an underwater scuba diver. I want to join forensics. Now you really don't want to tell me I can be a great forensic investigator too, or do you? Oh, yes, you can. In fact, one or two sarcastic scuba divers asked me this question. They thought there certainly was no scope for them in forensic science. You might think the same and again you would be WRONG. If you are a trained SCUBA diver, you can assist in the investigation of underwater crime scenes. Imagine this scenario. A person has killed a person in a car, and then pushed the car down a lake. This car has gone down and settled at the bottom of the lake. How to get the car (and the dead body) to the surface? How to do it so the incriminating evidence is well-preserved? Well, this is done by trained scuba divers who have a knowledge of forensic science.
That's not the only thing you can do. There are a whole lot of possibilities. We all know about the unfortunate fate of the Air India flight 182, a Boeing 747, which took off from Toronto, Canada, with 329 people on board (including crew) on June 22, 1985 (local time). Due to a bomb placed in the cargo (because of suspected terrorist connections), it exploded in mid-air while crossing the Atlantic (at approximately 8:13 am on 23 June 1985, local time). All the 329 people on board died. The shattered plane sank down 6,000 feet and came to rest on the ocean floor. There was much evidence there including the Black Box (the popular name for the flight data recorder and the cockpit recorder, which are kept on all flights just for these eventualities), which could pin down the terrorists. Remains of bombs could also give important leads. How to bring all that material up? Well, here is where your skills (if you are a scuba diver) would come in handy. Incidentally, the black boxes of this flight were brought up in July 1985.
For more information, you may want to read "THE UNDERWATER CRIME SCENE: Underwater Crime Investigative Techniques" by Ronald F. Becker. This book has been published by Charles C. Thomas and can be accessed by clicking here.
I am a knot specialist, and know nothing except knots. I want to join forensic science. I would be damned if you told me, even I could be of some use! Yes, you too have a great role to play in forensic science. If you are a specialist in knots, you can become a forensic knot specialist!! What does a forensic knot specialist do? Well, by utilizing his knowledge he can tell if the knot used in, say, a case of hanging was tied by the person himself (making it a case of suicide), or by some other person (making it a case of homicide). Right handed, and left handed persons are known to tie knots in different ways. Some people also have a penchant for special knots. Some types of knots are too complicated for an untrained person to accomplish. All these facts - and lots of others - will help you decide who tied the knot in a given case. I know of cases, where a servant working in a house robbed it himself (when the owners were away at a party), stashed the money away at some safe place, and then gagged himself and tied himself up to show the work was done by some dacoits. Smart knot specialists have been able to determine in such cases that the knots were tied by the person himself. With this knowledge, the police swooped on the servant, and he confessed to the whole crime!
There is a good book if you want to know more about such things. Please click either on the book or here to get it from amazon.
If you want to read a sampling of this book, you may download 32 pages of this book by Clicking here
I am a musician. I can't join forensics, or can I? Oh, yes you can. You can have a lucrative career in forensic musicology and become a forensic musicologist. These are the people who use their knowledge of music to detect crimes such as piracy in music. One of the famous cases regarding piracy in music is Levine v. McDonald's 735 F. Supp. 92 (S.D.N.Y. 1990). The facts of this highly interesting case are as follows:
In the early 1970s, Paul DiFranco and Norman Dolph wrote a song Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me) (I will call if just "life" now for convenience sake). An arrangement of this song by DiFranco, Mark Bellack and Joseph Levine was recorded by a group called Reunion and released by RCA in 1974. The song became an instant hit. In fact, it became one of the ten most popular songs in the United States shortly after it was released. It was reputed to have sold more than 750,000 copies.
So far, so good. In 1987, a company called Leo Burnett Company, Inc. (again for convenience sake, I will call it just "Burnett" from now onwards) hired Joseph Levine (please note that he was one of the three who composed "life") and his company, Joey Levine Crushing Music, to compose a jingle for its client, McDonald's (the famous fast food outlet). Levine and his company Crushing Music composed a song entitled "Good Time/Great Taste McDonald's" (I will call it just "Good time" from now onwards). Levine was paid handsomely for this song, and quite rightly he assigned all rights of "Good time" to Burnett as agent for McDonald's. "Good time" was used in numerous McDonald's commercials since 1988 as McDonald's theme song.
In 1989, McDonald's decided to modify the theme song. In the new jingle, they added a "patter" (please see below), which had earlier been composed by DiFranco, Mark Bellack and Joseph Levine way back in the 1970s, in their song "life". The new modified song used by McDonald's was called the "Menu Song" (I will call it just "menu" in my discussion). McDonald's obviously did not possess the rights of the earlier song "life" from which the "patter" had been taken.
What is a "patter"? Well, it is a special technique in music, which musicians surely know better than me, but I will attempt to tell you whatever little I know. In this technique the words are sung in a rapid tempo. "Life" consisted of a verse section, and a chorus section. The lyrics of the verse section of "life" (using the patter technique) consisted of a list of Rock and Roll icons. The patter section of "life" was nine measures long and consisted of the pitch "G" repeated 128 times in a constant sixteenth note pattern, followed by eight repetitions of the pitch "A" (one step up in the scale), and ended with eight repetitions of "G" again.
The exact problem between the two parties was this. The lyrics of the verse section of "life" (which utilized the "patter technique") consisted of a list of Rock and Roll icons. McDonald's in their "menu" replaced this list of Rock and Roll icons with the food and beverage items on the McDonald's menu. The patter section of "menu" also consisted of the rapid singing of the lyrics in a constant sixteenth note pattern of one or two pitches. The result was that whenever someone heard the "menu", he was invariably reminded of "life". Thus McDonald's tried to encash on the earlier popularity of "life". It was the contention of the plaintiffs, that McDonald's could not have used that "patter", without their permission. McDonald's on the other hand maintained that there was nothing original in that "patter" and anyone could have used it.
What would the court do? Obviously call a forensic musicologist and ask for his opinion. In this case, both the plaintiff and the defendant took the help of a forensic musicologist each. Plaintiff Joesph Levine took the help of the forensic musicologist Judith Finell who opined that the harmony of "menu" was "strikingly similar" to the harmony of "life". She also opined that "life's" harmony was not a basic blues progression and that the two songs were substantially similar in a number of ways. Furthermore - according to her - the patter section of "life" was sufficiently creative and could not have been placed in the public domain. The defendant McDonald's took the opinion of another forensic musicologist Earl V. Spielman, who opined otherwise. He opined that the underlying melody and harmony of "menu" was the same as that of "good time", and hence there was no problem (since the rights of "good time" were already with Burnett, McDonald's agents). He also opined that the patter of "life" lacked creativity and originality, and could be construed as being in the public domain. After a much heated debate, the court denied the defendants' motion.
Well, if you want to know more about forensic musicology, why not contact Craig De Wilde, one of the most famous in the field of forensic musicology. Please click here to contact him.
If you want to read a sampling of this book, you may download 32 pages of this book by Clicking here
Alright, I am an astronomer. What do you have for me? You certainly don't want to tell me I can utilize my knowledge of astronomy, planets, sun, moon and the stars for detecting crime, or do you? Yes, you can. A new branch has emerged recently which has been called "Forensic Astronomy". This is an area which involves the use of astronomical information in the assistance of criminal and civil litigation. Forensic astronomers are people who utilize their knowledge of astronomy to calculate such things as visibility at the scene of crime at the estimated or reported time of crime. During the 56th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (from Feb 16-21, 2004), a very interesting paper related to forensic astronomy was presented by three Turkish scientists. This paper entitled "Applications of Forensic Astronomy in Turkey" was presented by H. Bülent Üner, Emre Albek and Ismail Cakir. In their paper, they tell us that forensic astronomers use degrees of longitude and latitude of the scene, data from regular astronomical almanacs, moon phases, the times of moonrise, moonset, sunrise and sunset etc to calculate the visibility on the night of the event. This information may serve to corroborate or refute the statements made by victims, eye witnesses and the alleged assailants.
In their paper, the three scientists give another application of forensic astronomy. They tell us that in Turkey (with mostly Islamic population) persons involved in a criminal case sometimes report the time of occurrence in association with the muezzine's call for prayer. In such cases forensic astronomers have to calculate the exact hour of the praying call at the time of the alleged crime. Readers wanting to contact these scientists may do so at the following addresses (I have taken them from the "Proceedings of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences", where an abstract of this paper was printed. You can download it free from http://www.aafs.org/pdf/crim.pdf)
H. Bülent Üner, Ph.D.
Institute of Forensic Sciences, Istanbul University
Adli Typ Enstitüsü, Cerrahpaba
Istanbul, 34301, Turkey
Emre Albek, M.D.
Cerrahpaba Medical Faculty, Istanbul University
Cerrahpaba Typ Facültesi
Istanbul, 34301, Turkey
Ismail Cakir, Ph.D.
Council of Forensic Medicine, Turkey
Adli Typ Kurumu, Cerrahpaba
Istanbul, 34246, Turkey
You may also want to read a highly informative article called "The growing field of forensic astronomy" by Dr. Russell Sampson in the newsletter "The webfooted astronomer" (Seattle Astronomical Society, April-May 2003). It is available free of cost in pdf form at:
In this highly interesting article, Dr. Sampson explains how he used his knowledge of astronomy to decide whether the glare of the sun was responsible for accidents or not, how he calculated the luminosity (due to moonshine) of an unlit pathway where an accident occurred, and how he refuted the testimony of a witness, who happened to assert that full moon was visible on the night he witnessed the crime. Dr. Sampson, by his knowledge of astronomy could prove in a court of law that the moon on the night in question was in new phase and could NOT have been visible to the witness. This threw the witness's credibility in question.
For more information on Forensic Astronomy and how it can be used to solve some great cases, please read an interview with the famous forensic astronomer, Larry Ciupik by clicking here.
That's not all. If you venture out in astrology (a rather pseudoscientific offshoot of astronomy) too, check out a curious newsgroup called "Forensic Horary" at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Forensic_Horary/. The newsgroup claims there exists a subject called Forensic astrology. The group defines Forensic astrology as the use of horary and event charts in obtaining information regarding murdered or missing people. The group covers cases from past and present events. Since I am not an astrologer myself, I can't comment anything on my own. But you certainly can join the group and can find out more. Even if you are skeptical about such pseudosciences as astrology, nothing prevents you from joining the group and taking them head on.
Alright, I am a crook and a thief, and have served six years for my illegal actions. I have been at loggerheads with forensic investigators all my life. I have you trapped now! You certainly can't utilize my skills for forensic science. Oh yes, I can. Surprisingly even a crook can be a great forensic investigator! You may be surprised to know that at one time, the Head of Sûreté-Nationale, the best known of France's four major police organizations, was a crook, who used his knowledge of the criminal mind in the service of law and order. His name was Eugène-François Vidocq (1775-1857). He employed his fellow crooks, to swoop down on criminals' dens, and they did it more succesfully than today's police officers!
How could they do that? Because they knew everything about crooks. How do they operate? Who are their connections? What is their modus operandi? Who finances them? What are their weak points? How can their weaknesses be exploited and so on? In fact French police did some of its best work under Vidocq. If you are a crook, you could even be an undercover agent. Talk to your nearest police officer today. I am serious!! To learn more about who the undercover agents are, please click here. Interestingly Vidocq himself was an undercover agent first. It was only later that the became the head of the great Sûreté-Nationale.
You might think these types of things used to happen in the past only and perhaps are no more followed in the modern 21st century, and you would be wrong! For confirmation, please see the cutting from a leading Indian newspaper of India, The Hindustan Times of August 5, 2006 (Saturday). Read how a senior police officer of India is employing the same methods as those used by Vidocq two centuries earlier.
So I seem to have broken the final frontier too. You could simply be a crook, to be a great forensic investigator! To be involved in forensic science, you can be anybody. You just have to use your area of specialty in some way to help the police and law enforcement agencies.
Get the idea? You can take up forensic science irrespective of what field you have specialized in. If you are an engineer, you can become a forensic engineer; a nurse can become a forensic nurse; an XXX specialist can become a FORENSIC XXX SPECIALIST. You might be beginning to get an idea of just how versatile forensic science can be. And also perhaps why I love forensic science so much. You could be anybody; even a crook as I said earlier.
Still not sure what to do? Well, Now there is a very good book you can read which will help you further chosing your career. This is a beautiful book written by Blythe Camenson. Click on the book to obtain more information about it.
Are you a retired person? A busy housewife? An employed person? A student pursuing a lucrative career in some other academic discipline? You don't have time to attend classes, but you would still want to pursue a course in Forensic Science? Well, don't despair. You can still learn a lot about forensic science sitting right at your own home. I have devised a COMPLETELY FREE online course just for you. One lesson will be E-mailed/posted to you at a time and ten questions will be asked at the end. You would be required to send the answers to the questions either via snail mail or by Email. A student must score at least 60% marks, before the next lesson can be sent. Students are free to discuss a lesson with me either via Email or phone.
A total of 50 lessons will be sent for basic course and a further 50 lessons for advanced course. The courses cover ALL the specialties I have mentioned above AND MORE. The students can complete the course at their own pace. However the expected time duration is 1 year for the basic course and 1 year for the advanced course, i.e. about one week for one lesson. And of course, this online course will NOT entitle you to any degree/diploma. It is just for those of you who want to study forensic science for the love of it.
There is much more to forensics than has been mentioned in these pages. Do you want to discuss all aspects of forensics with me and other several like minded people? Well if you do, you are welcome to join an elite group where several people deeply interested in forensics are sitting and waiting to discuss these matters with you. Are you looking for a breakthrough in forensic careers? Are you stuck with solving a mysterious death of a relative? Do you want to discuss some personal problems which have a forensic background? Well, join our group. You can simply join this group by clicking on the "subscribe" button below.
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Email me by clicking here. Send me your complete biodata, and also why you would want to join this course. On reading your biodata, if I feel you are the right person, I would include you in this course. If I need to ask a few more questions, I might ask you to phone me.
Anil Aggrawal's Forensic course is now available on audio cassettes too. This course is much more extensive, and has several additional features. The details of this course can be accessed by clicking here. If you want to contact me, please click here.
Readers have been kind enough to make valuable contributions to this page. Click the icon below to go to the readers' contributions.
If your university offers courses in Forensic Sciences, please let me know by E-mail. I will put the information immediately on this page. Please don't forget to put the subject heading as "Forensic Courses in our University".
Career in Forensic Programming
Careers in Forensic Science (Keith Inman and Norah Rudin)
Forensic Career page by American Academy of Forensic Sciences
[The above page is very comprehensive. Downloading the page may be painful, but it is worth the wait. The total contents of this single page (including all the lovely pictures) are a whopping 5.5 MB!]
Forensic Pathology Careers
Careers in Forensic Psychology
Forensic Career Opportunities
CAREERS IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Careers in forensic and legal medicine
Forensic Pathology as a career
Career focus - Combining medicine and law
The following three sites are easily the richest repository of Various Forensic Web Pages on the net, classified very nicely. If you have got anything to do with Forensics, you will surely enjoy these three sites. Youngsters hoping to join forensics will be able to explore a lot of interesting forensic specialties
In addition, you may enjoy the following pages
Anil Aggrawal's Popular Forensic Toxicology articles in Science Reporter
Anil Aggrawal's Page of Forensic Quotes and Aphorisms
Anil Aggrawal's popular forensic medicine page
Anil Aggrawal’s Internet Journal of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology
Anil Aggrawal's Page of Forensic Jokes, Puns and Tidbits
Anil Aggrawal's Forensic Science Fiction page
Best Toxicology Books
Criminal Poisoning - Newsgroup
More forensic Sites
Alan Barbour's Forensic Toxicology Page
And if you are a book lover (as I am), you would surely love to go to this site
As a youngster keen to join the forensics, you would probably want to know something about various professional associations associated with forensics. If you do, you can reach almost of them, by clicking the following link.
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