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Purdue Forensics Overview

By traditional definition, forensic science, deals with the scientific applications to law. With the endless number of civil and criminal laws regulating our society today, the broad scope of forensic science can be overwhelming to comprehend. The practical application of forensic science deals with those criminal and civil laws that are enforced by law enforcement agencies in the criminal justice system. It is the application of scientific and engineering principles to identify perpetrators, causes, consequences and relationships of criminal activity.

Our focus at Purdue University is the training and research of those areas of forensic science that deal with crime-scene investigation, the collection, processing and interpretation of physical evidence, and the presentation of this evidence pertinent in the criminal justice system.

There is an increasing demand for professionals trained in the discipline and techniques of forensic science; not only in traditional crime investigation but in the spectrum of world terrorism and homeland security. Purdue’s program in forensic science is built on a solid foundation of courses in biological, chemical, and physical sciences, including a series of courses specific to forensic science and criminalistics, computer forensics, forensic entomology, forensic microscopy, environmental and health sciences, law and society, psychology, aviation technology, engineering, and a host of other courses related to forensic science education. Opportunities exist for both undergraduate and graduate training in this exciting and upcoming field of endeavor.

News Story

Kristi with Mike Rowe on Dirty Jobs | Bug Detective
Photo courtesy of

The host of "Dirty Jobs," Mike Rowe, and a production crew visited Purdue in July and followed Williams' graduate students as they stopped at several sites where they had deposited dead pigs, including one in a 55-gallon trash can, one in a larger trash bin and one on the ground to simulate where murder victims often are found. One was wrapped in a tarp, a common way for criminals to hide bodies.

The team selected pigs that had been dead for as little as a week to as long as two months to show the varying degrees of insect development. The team used only pigs that had died of natural causes or had a fatal condition and had to destroyed, Ralph Williams said.

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Click here to see clips of the episode!

Kristi Zurawski
Photo by Julie Preble, Destination Purdue
The article Students Investigate Forensic Science by Julie Preble gives both a graduate student's and undergraduate students' experience provided by the forensic programs from Purdue University. Kristi Zurawski received her master's degree in entomology from Michigan State University before coming to Purdue where she is earning her doctorate in forensic entomology. Sam Van Lear, a law and society major, decided to minor in forensic science to learn from Patrick Jones, a lead CSI of the Gacy case. Dayson Smith, an organizational leadership and supervision major, knew he wanted to be involved in forensics, but since Purdue doesn't offer it as a major yet, chose it as his minor.

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News Updates

Textbook Info

Forensic classes (ENTM 218, ENTM 318, and ENTM 418) will be using the 3rd Edition of the James/Nordby textbook.
Forensic Science - James and Nordby

Forensic classes (ENTM 318 and ENTM 418) will be using Crime Scene Processing and Laboratory Workbook by Jones and Williams
Jones and Williams Workbook

Forensic class (ENTM 595F) will be using Sex-Related Homicide and Death Investigation by Vernon Geberth
Sex-Related Homicide and Death Investigation

Forensic class (ENTM 595D) will be using Practical Forensic Digital Imaging: Applications and Techniques by Patrick Jones
Practical Forensic Digital Imaging: Applications and Techniques
Available at the local bookstores
University Bookstore
Follett's Bookstore

Related Links

Choose your course number and log in with your career account.
This site contains your forensic science grades, syllabus, and other important information. Bookmark it on your computer.

American Academy of Forensic Science
The American Academy of Forensic Sciences is a multi-disciplinary professional organization that provides leadership to advance science...

Purdue's information technology center at Purdue University...
A site dedicated to the Forensic Sciences and the distribution of information for practitioners, students and interested persons...

International Association for Identification
CSI and laboratory personnel. (Has forensic job postings).

International Association for Identification - Indiana Division
CSI and laboratory personnel - Indiana

American Society of Questioned Document Examiners
Questioned Documents

International Association of Forensic Nurses
Nursing as relates to Forensic Science, Evidence, and SANE nurses.

Law Officers
For those interested in a law enforcement career. (Has forensic job postings).

Forensic Magazine
For those interested in the practice of forensic science. (Has forensic job postings).

Scientific Working Group on Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (SWGSTAIN)

Scientific Working Group on Friction Ridge Analysis, Study, and Technology. (SWGFAST)

Scientific Working Group on Imaging Technology (SWGIT)