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Course Details

Course Outline
  1. Applications and versatility of the light microscope
  2. Principles of stereomicroscopy, including illumination techniques and magnification determinations
  3. Manipulation and preliminary examination of trace evidence, including techniques for counting, measuring, isolating, mounting, and recording particles
  4. Preliminary analysis and preparation of a miscellaneous trace evidence mixture including paint chips
  5. Mechanical and optical alignment of the polarized light microscope (PLM)
  6. (Student will use the Olympus BX51 PLM polarized light microscope)
  7. Using the PLM to make measurements (micrometry) and calibration of the ocular micrometer
  8. Using particle morphology to characterize and identify trace evidence
  9. Analysis of human hair, animal hair, and natural fibers
  10. Principles of plane polarized light, including refractive index measurements, pleochroism, contrast phenomena, and dispersion staining
  11. Analysis of glass particles and glass look-alikes
  12. Principles of crossed polarized light, including isotropy and anisotropy, extinction angles, retardation, and birefringence determinations using the Michel-Levy Interference Color Chart
  13. The use of compensators and how to determine sign of elongation
  14. Analysis of synthetic fibers
  15. Integration of microscopical methods as applied to trace evidence analysis and the identification of practice samples
  16. Report writing and court testimony

 

What You Will Learn

Upon satisfactory completion of this course, the student will

  • Use a stereomicroscope for the initial examination of trace evidence
  • Perform general trace evidence sample preparation
  • Skillfully operate a polarized light microscope to obtain optical data for samples in question
  • Employ the theory and techniques of polarized light microscopy to the analysis of trace evidence
  • Observe, interpret, and record optical data obtained using light microscopy
  • Examine, characterize, and identify trace evidence commonly encountered in the crime lab
Who Should Enroll

• Inexperienced forensic scientists and criminalists with new responsibilities for trace evidence analysis.
• Newly assigned trace evidence examiners.

Student Learning Resources
  • Detailed course manual
  • Essentials of Polarized Light Microscopy by John Gustav Delly
  • Olympus BX51 microscope with polarized light capabilities
  • Olympus Stereomicroscope
  • The McCrone Atlas of Microscopic Particles, a free online reference aid to substance identification
  • Modern Microscopy, a free, peer-reviewed online journal for the professional microscopist.
  • All instrumentation, materials, and supplies necessary for successful completion of this course will be provided onsite by the Hooke College of Applied Sciences. If you wish to participate in the pre- and post-course online web activities associated with this course you must have access to a computer and the internet.
Suggested Prerequisites
  • None—This course is designed as a basic introduction to microscopy and trace evidence analysis
Satisfactory Completion Requirements

Students are expected to successfully complete a variety of tasks in the form of hands-on exercises, laboratory exercises, identifications of unknowns, and quizzes. Students are notified at the end of the course whether or not they have successfully completed the requirements of the course based on:

  • 100% attendance
  • class participation
  • completion of all course material
  • completed and signed student evaluation form

Upon successfully meeting these requirements, a student is awarded a certificate of completion and CEU credits, if available. Those who have not successfully passed the course requirements do not receive a certificate or CEU credits.

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