Biology 4410 – Topics:  Biology  of Forensic Science

Syllabus, Spring 2010


Course Description: 

This course is designed to provide the student with basic procedures and concepts related to forensic sciences and crime scene investigation not covered in the Biology of Forensic Science course. Topics covered include forensic entomology, forensic odontology, forensic anthropology, and toxicology and how they are used to determine time of death, nature of death, and how they tie a suspect to a crime scene. Guest speakers from local law enforcement agencies will present in their areas of expertise.  Laboratory exercises will give students hands-on experience with skills needed for evidence collection and analysis.


General Education Requirements:  This course qualifies as an upper division elective. 


Course prerequisites: Students should have completed Biology 4410: Biology of Forensic Science. equivalent and it is recommended that they have taken a genetics and/or molecular biology class.  However, students without these classes can be admitted with permission of the instructor.


Course Objective:  To increase knowledge, understanding and critical thinking ability concerning biological, chemical and physical evidence used in analyzing a crime scene, identifying a suspect and solving a crime. 


Course location: BES 208

Meeting time: MWF, 8:00-8:50 a.m. (lecture); M 1 – 4 (lab)




Dr. Cynthia Galloway

Office:  BES 205  Telephone:  361-593-3790 – email:

Web Page:


Office Hours: 11:00-12:00 and 01:00-3:00 Tuesday through Friday or by appointment.  Also, feel free to stop by the office at any time and if I am there I will be happy to meet with you.


Required Text: Criminalistics: An Introduction to Forensic Science (College Version) ninth edition by Richard Saferstein  


Recommended Study Materials:


CD included with text book, web sites recommended in class and listed on my web page.




Grading: Student grade will be determined in the following manner


Lecture quizzes (4)                            160 points

Video summaries (4@10 pts.)          40 points

Midterm                                              100 points

            Final Exam                                         200 points


            Laboratory                                         500 points


Total                                                 1000 points


Please keep all tests and assignments, in case there is a question concerning the assigned grade in the course.  Grades will be awarded as follows:


90-100% = A, 80-89% = B, 70-79% = C, 60-69% = D, and less than 60% = F

The last day to drop the course with an automatic grade of Q is March 31. After March 31, you must talk to me before dropping the course. The last day to drop the course with a Q if you have a passing grade is May 10. It is up to you to take care of all the necessary paperwork.


All discussion of grades will be handled in person and not over the phone or via e-mail.  If you wish to know your final exam grade you may leave me a self-addressed stamped envelope prior to the end of the semester.  Your final course grade may be seen on the Blue and Gold Connection by the Monday following graduation exercises.


 Senate Bill 1231, passed by the Texas legislature 2007, limits the number of drops (six) that undergraduate students may accrue without a punitive grade. Undergraduates completing a high school program and enrolling in an institution of higher education prior to fall 2007 are exempt. Undergraduate students completing a high school program and enrolling in an institution of higher education for the first time or after fall semester 2007 are subject to the law. (See Catalog, pp.57+).



Test day protocol


On the days of the exams you are expected to be in the class at 8 a.m. and under no circumstances will you be allowed to start the test if it is after 8:15 a.m. or someone has already completed the test and turned it in.  You are expected to remain in class after the test has been distributed until you have completed the test and turned it in.  This means go to the bathroom, get a drink, sharpen your pencil, and bring Kleenex so you will not have to leave the class.  No hats will be allowed to be worn during the exam and absolutely no cell phones will be allowed on.  You may be required to surrender your cell phones to me prior to the exam and pick it up when you turn in your exam.  All books, papers, and personal possessions (with the exception of purses) will be placed at the front of the class during the exam.  You will also make sure that there are two empty seats between you and the people you are sitting next to.  If you have questions during the test ask me, NOT THE PERSON SITTING NEXT TO YOU.  If you will not be able to conform to these requirements come talk to me about your situation. 


Reading Assignments/Homework:  Reading assignments will be announced in class and, it is strongly recommended that you read the chapter being discussed in class prior to coming to class.  The chapters covered are listed in column 2 of the schedule included in this syllabus.


Lecture Exams: The FOUR lecture quizzes will cover material presented since the previous test and will consist of multiple-choice and short answer questions.  The midterm covers information from the first half of the class and the final will cover all material presented since the start of the semester giving you the opportunity to synthesize various topics covered during the semester.  Midterm and final exams will be mainly essay, short answer and  definition questions.


You are responsible for all the material presented in class and in the chapters accompanying the lectures. 


You may sometimes have more than one exam scheduled during the same week or even on the same day.  It will be up to you to manage your time properly to deal with such situations.  Our schedule in this course is too tight to modify it to accommodate another class.  If you feel you have a problem in this area, please see me WELL BEFORE the exam.


Lectures:  The lectures will often cover material in addition to what is contained in the text, and will assume that you have completed any reading assignments. The notes for this class that can be found on my webpage are not all inclusive of what will be presented in class.  Just reading the notes from my webpage will not guarantee you'll have all the material necessary to pass the class.  In other words, COME TO CLASS!


Web Notes:  You may be provided with lecture outlines prior to each chapter.  These can be downloaded from Dr. Galloway’s (my) web site and are designed to assist you in note-taking during lecture.  They are NOT intended to be all inclusive.


Make-up Policy: There will be NO make-ups for unexcused missed exams.  If you miss one lecture examination, the percent score on the final will be substituted for the missed test.  You will receive a zero for each additional missed exam.  In the case of crises and emergencies (that you can document and that are considered a valid excuse by me), talk to me (or phone me) BEFORE the exam and more flexible arrangements may be scheduled.  (Under those conditions the exam may be unique, and may be more difficult)


Classroom Decorum:  Cell phones must be turned off during class.  Do NOT carry on  personal conversations once lecture has started.  Repeated offenses will result in you being removed from the lecture. 


Other:  There is no policy of required attendance.  However, it is unlikely that you will earn an acceptable grade if you do not attend class regularly.  Attendance will be recorded for each lecture and will be considered in the final grade, especially in borderline cases.  Attendance alone does not guarantee a passing grade.  It is important that you take complete and comprehensive notes of the lecture material.  It is also essential that you study regularly. 


I reserve the right to drop a student for regular non-attendance or for regularly failing to turn in assignments or take exams.  Regular attendance in both lecture and lab, plus active class participation can result in a higher course grade in the case of borderline situations.


The university offers special workshops for students who need to improve their note taking and study skills.


Disability Statement:  Students with disabilities, including learning disabilities, who wish to request accommodations in class, should register with the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) early in the semester so that appropriate arrangements may be made. In accordance with federal laws, a student requesting special accommodations must provide documentation of their disability to the SSD coordinator.


Academic misconduct statement:  You are expected to practice academic honesty in every aspect of this course and all other courses.  Make sure you are familiar with your Student Handbook, especially the section on academic misconduct.  Students who engage in academic misconduct are subject to university disciplinary procedures.Forms of academic dishonesty:


1) Cheating: deception in which a student misrepresents that he/she has mastered information on an academic exercise that he/she has not mastered; giving or receiving aid unauthorized by the instructor on assignments or examinations.


2) Academic misconduct: tampering with grades or taking part in obtaining or distributing any part of a scheduled test.


3) Fabrication: use of invented information or falsified research.


4) Plagiarism: unacknowledged quotation and/or paraphrase of someone else’s words, ideas, or data as one’s own in work submitted for credit. Failure to identify information or essays from the Internet and submitting them as one’s own work also constitutes plagiarism.


Nonacademic misconduct:  The university respects the rights of instructors to teach and students to learn.  Maintenance of these rights requires campus conditions that do not impede their exercise.  Campus behavior that interferes with either


1) The instructor’s ability to conduct the class


2) The inability of other students to profit from the instructional program, or


3) Campus behavior that interferes with the rights of others will not be tolerated.

An individual engaging in such disruptive behavior may be subject to disciplinary action.  Such incidents will be adjudicated by the Dean of Students under nonacademic procedures.


Sexual misconduct:  Sexual harassment of students and employers at Texas A&M University-Kingsville is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  Any member of the university community violating this policy will be subject to disciplinary action.


Tentative Schedule


Lecture/Laboratory Topic

Reading Assignment

Jan. 20 - Jan. 22

Introduction to the course                                                                         Definition and scope of forensic science                                                      History and development of forensic science

Chapter 1

Jan. 25 - Jan. 29

Professional responsibilities of the forensic scientist Overview of various disciplines in the forensic sciences

Chapter 2

Feb. 1-  Feb.  5

Protocols in processing the crime scene Collecting physical evidence

Chapter 2

Feb. 8-  Feb.  12

Physical evidence

Chapter 3

Feb. 15- Feb. 19

Physical evidence (cont.) Chain of custody

Chapter 4

Feb. 22- Feb. 26

Microscope Hairs, Fibers, and Paint

Chapter 7        Chapter 8

Mar. 1-  Mar. 5

Organic analysis Chromatography

Chapter 5

Mar. 8- Mar. 12

Inorganic Analysis

Chapter 6

Mar.15- Mar. 19

Spring break

Mar. 22 Mar. 26

Inorganic Analysis

Chapter 6
Mar.  29- Mar.  31 Crime Scene Analysis

Chapter 2 (Last Day to “Q” is 3/31)

Apr. 2

Good Friday Observation - no classes

Apr. 5 Apr. 9

Crime Scene Analysis Cont.

Chapter 2

Apr. 12 - Apr. 16


Chapter 14

Apr. 19- Apr. 23

Fingerprints cont.


Apr. 26- Apr. 30

Blood Splatter Analysis

May 3 - May 7

Blood Splatter Analysis Cont.

(Dead Week)

May 10- May 12

Student Presentations

May 14-15; May 18- May 20

Finals    May 18; Tuesday; 8:00-10:20