Addresses course outcomes 1–3:

1. recognize and apply the scientific method to forensic evidence to make decisions and solve problems

2. synthesize and apply forensic science knowledge and methods to evaluate evidence and perform casework

3. effectively communicate forensic information in an ethical manner to legal and other stakeholders for application in legal processes, publications, and policy decisions

The research project has two parts:

    your final research project, submitted to the week 8 conference and to your Assignments folder
    submission to the week 8 conference, and comments on the research projects of at least two classmates. Comments should adhere to the expectations about conference discussions described in the syllabus above.

The final research project can be presented in a variety of formats. You will be free to choose whether you will create

    a PowerPoint presentation with fully detailed narration (detailed text in the Notes section that includes citations). The PowerPoint presentation could be based on a case study or crime scene investigation, or be based on any of the topics provided below. The PowerPoint presentation must also meet the research paper criteria discussed below.
    a case study
    a crime scene investigation
    a conventional five- to seven-page paper
    a training document for investigators
    a communication report to stakeholders
    an investigative report for a fictional newspaper
    educational materials to be used by high school teachers (includes lecture notes for the teacher and hands-on learning activities for high school students)
    a public service announcement to inform the public about one of the topics below (provide all the text and reference sources; you must still meet all the criteria for the paper described below)

The final research paper should be at least seven well-written, double-spaced pages long (excluding the reference section) and must be your own work. You will be expected to demonstrate an in-depth and clear understanding of the topic you select. See the list below for possible topics for your research paper.

In addition to depth of knowledge of the subject matter, your paper will be evaluated for clarity, proper sentence and paragraph structure, and proper resource citation. See the writing resources listed above in the syllabus, and also check with the Effective Writing Center if you need additional assistance.

Reference citations must be provided in APA format, and are not included in the page count. Check with the Effective Writing Center if you require help with this format or need help with review of your paper. There should be a minimum of 10 references, and at least three of them must be original, primary research articles. The original research sources (publications) may come from the Journal of Forensic Sciences, Forensic Science International, or other peer-reviewed sources.

Here is a general, overall forensic information sources link:

Suggested Topics

The following are suggested topics for the BIOL 320 research project. Novel topics in forensic biology are welcome, but they must first be approved by the third week of the course.

    Forensic biology databases: Thoroughly research one of the following: including CODIS, STRbase, mtDNA databases, Y-STR databases, fingerprint databases, hair databases, biometric databases, facial recognition/databases, iris recognition/databases, voice recognition/databases, and forensic information or interactive databases.
    National Academy of Sciences report, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward: Thoroughly research this report and its recommendations for the forensic field, then include your opinion of whether an independent government agency should be formed, the National Institute of Forensic Sciences. Link:
    Forensic serology testing: Make a detailed study of serological testing and applications.
    Forensic botany: We don't cover this in class, but it is certainly a valid forensic field of study.
    Forensic entomology: This includes forensically relevant studies of insects, such as postmortem interval and detection of human DNA from certain insects, such as mosquitos, lice, ticks, etc.
    Fish and wildlife applications of forensics: This includes novel applications and methods used in fish and wildlife cases.
    Animal forensics: This includes forensic DNA identification of domestic animals.
    Forensic hair analysis: This includes forensic hair comparisons and studies.
    Forensic DNA analysis: This includesshort tandem repeat (STR) new developments, single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) used in forensics, mitochondrial DNA analysis (mtDNA) new developments,X chromosomal STR studies, and Y chromosomal STR studies. See
    Microbial forensics: This includes forensic studies related to microorganisms.
    Forensic toxicology: This includes new methods and applications, and forensic testing of designer/synthetic drugs. See
    Forensic pathology: This includes medical examiners, death investigations, and novel forensic pathology findings in cases.
    Forensic biology validation studies: This includes research on validation studies done for a particular subject in forensic biology, e.g. DNA, fingerprints, etc.

You are expected to submit a final version of this research project to the week 8 conference at the beginning of week 8 and to your Assignments folder. Use the research assignment calculator to track the development of your research project to help ensure that you will complete it in time for submission at the beginning of week 8.