Forensic Science News & Updates

FSC Program

Forensic Faculty & Staff Awarded for their Excellence

Wade Knaap

Teresa Cabral

Two of our very own FSC Program members were recognized this month for their amazing work and dedication to making this university one of the best in the country.

Detective Constable (Retired) Wade Knaap was selected as the recipient of the UTM Teaching Excellence Award for outstanding teaching by a sessional instructor.

Ms. Teresa Cabral was selected as the recipient of the Karen Thiffault Staff Service Excellence Award. This award recognizes her service to the life of the campus in ways that go far beyond job parameters.

For any student, staff and faculty member in FSC (and many outside of the program), we are well aware how these two members of our team help shape the success of our program and the success of our students.

Thanks to you both for all your accomplishments, achievements, and dedication! Congratulations!

 

Psychology

Revisiting ‘The Psychopath Test’: New research gives diagnosis a failing grade

Rasmus Larsen

Dr. Rosenberg Larsen was interviewed for a UTM News feature, discussing new research from the university proposing that it's time to reconsider what we think we know about the psychopathic condition.

You can read the full article on the UTM News page.

Canine

Canine Unit visits UTM Forensic Science for a demonstration

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Officer Jay Silverberg (bottom left), Officer Derrick Gaudet joined by his canine partner Major, (bottom centre), and Officer Jon Nowak (bottom right) pose with our forensic students.  

On Monday, November 4th, the Canine Units of Peel, Durham, York and Toronto stopped by the CSI house for a visit, and a demonstration of the remarkable capabilities of their animals.

We are incredibly grateful to have seen Canine officers Major, Otto and Max at work. Even with a basic understanding of their methods, it is really something stunning to see how they operate in person! The dogs expertly located pre-hidden items in the field and forest surrounding the CSI house, including bone fragments, blood drops, and less than 200ml of soil stained with human decomposition fluid!

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Above (L-R): Major, awaiting his next command from Officer Gaudet; Officers SIlverberg and Nowak and their partner Otto, enjoying a reward for some good work; Otto demonstrating the "indication" stance: when remains are located, the dogs will sit still waiting for their partner's confirmation. The dogs are trained not to touch or pick up the items, so that all original context may be preserved.

 

Ident

Internship Feature: Determining the Suitability of 3D Laser Scanning for Forensic Footwear 

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JCIS

Footwear evidence is still highly valuable, and with the availability of 3D scanners capturing at high resolutions, there are some new approaches to how we interpret this kind of evidence.

FSC481 Internship student Charmaine Rodrigues recently published an article in Identification Canada (Journal for the Canadian Identification Society, Issue 42, No 1., March 2019), about how she and FSC406 instructor Eugene Liscio used a FARO Scan Arm to capture footwear impressions and subsequently analyze them in CloudCompare.

Instructor Liscio is a 3D forensic analyst, and the founder of AI2-3D. This research raised a lot of issues about how investigators treat this kind of data, problems encountered and ideas moving forward.

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Psychology

Thinking of Graduate Studies? Consider a Master of Social Work

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Attend the MSW Information Session at UofT’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work to learn more about

  • 2 Year Master of Social Work Program: for prospective students who do not have a Bachelor of Social Work Degree  
  • MSW with Advanced Standing (one year): For prospective students who have or are working towards a Bachelor of Social Work Degree
  • MSW in Indigenous Trauma and Resiliency (2 Years, fulltime, hybrid model)

Learn more: https://socialwork.utoronto.ca/admissions/information-sessions/

MSW Program Booklet: https://socialwork.utoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/MSW-2020-Program-Booklet.pdf

MSW ITR: https://socialwork.utoronto.ca/admissions/msw-itr/

Wondering what Social Workers do? Listen to the Podcast, Profiles in Social Work: https://socialwork.utoronto.ca/alumni/profiles/  

If you have any questions about the programs please contact valerie.groysman@utoronto.ca

Biology

CBC Feature: Forensic Genealogy - A Cold Case Revolution

Novroski

All over the world cold case murders, sexual assaults, and unidentified person cases once thought unsolvable are being cracked thanks to the proliferation of retail DNA kits and public genetic databases.

UTM's own Dr. Novroski explains how this is all possible to the CBC. Watch her podcast feature on the CBC Facebook page here.

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Psychology

Buyer Beware: How to Protect Yourself from Fraud

Article

Incidents of fraud in Canada are up nearly 20 percent from 2017. While there is no one profile for scammers, experts say people can protect themselves by doing research, rejecting too-good-to-be-true opportunities, and reporting if they are victimized.

Dr. Rosenberg Larsen was recently interviewed by the Etobicoke Guardian for his perspective on con artists, and the complexities of trying to create an appropriate psychological profile. 

You can read the full article here. 

 

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Did you spot us at the Ontario Universities Fair?

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The Ontario Universities Fair draws more than 130 000 students, parents and educators over three days. We scanned over 120 000 students JUST at the U of T booth!

Did you manage to catch us to answer all your questions? The Ontario Universities’ Fair (OUF) began in 1997 as a way to help high school students gather information about Ontario’s universities.

Representatives from the Forensic Science Program were present on all three days, giving high school students an opportunity to talk to us about our specialist programs and campus life. We were a popular stop for a lot of budding scientists! Each day, we had a representative that could speak to our anthropology, biology, chemistry and psychology forensic specialist programs. What a great and dedicated academic community!

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Above (L-R): Alida Trieu, Dr. Luk, Teresa Cabral, Murray Clayton representing FSC. Not pictured, but also in attendance: Nicole Chow, Dr. Woodall, Dhwani Shah, Evie Strickland, Esme Newling.

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Forensic Outreach Program: Mensa visits UTM!

MENSA 2019

Above: The members of Mensa Toronto pose in the lobby of HSC. 46 members were in attendance, ready to engage in some active learning with the FSC Outreach volunteers. 

On Saturday, September 21st, members of the Mensa Toronto chapter visited the forensic science labs and CSI house at UTM, to learn about our discipline. Starting with forensic psychology and forensic biology workshops, they ended the day discovering how our students train in IDENT activities, including blood spatter analysis, fingerprinting, anthropology, and human remain search and recovery. 

Mensa is an intellectual think group, with members holding an IQ in the top 2 percentile of the population. Our undergraduate volunteers tackled some complex questions expertly, and provided great discussion and intelligent exchange with our guests. 

MENSA 2019

 

Chemistry

Student Feature: FSC481 Interns in M Magazine

Dr. Luk

Two of our best and brightest forensic science students, Sandy Wang and Jackie Han, were recently featured in the science journal M Magazine, for their internship research, in an article titled, "Rethinking Sobriety Testing: Does standard assessment fully capture one’s impairment level?"

The research was conducted with the assistance and supervision of our forensic chemist, Dr. Luk (left). Both students won funding from the UTM Experiential Education unit.

The article can be found here, on page 26.

 

Jackie Sandy

Left: Dr. Luk with her interns Sandy and Jackie. Top-right: Sandy administers a sobriety screening device on a participant during a control group test. Bottom-right: Jackie administers an eye-tracking test with a participant. 

 

Note takers wanted

 

Biology

Research Feature: Dr. Novroski

Novroski

This September, Dr. Novroski will be presenting at the 2019 International Symposium on Human Identification. Read all about her speaker feature Under the Microscope, in anticipation of her talk.

In addition, Dr. Novroski and colleague Frank Wendt have also recently published an article in Forensic Science International: Genetics:

Wendt, F.R., Novroski, N.M.M. (2019). Identity informative SNP associations in the UK Biobank. Forensic Science International: Genetics, 42:45-48. doi.org/10.1016/j.fsigen.2019.06.007

Nicolenovroski.com

Dr. Novroski has also recently launched her biology laboratory website. Of special consideration is the opportunities page, for students who are interested in graduate work, undergraduate research, study participation. Visit the website for more information. 

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Forensic Identification Field School 2019  

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Students in the Forensic Identification Field School spend two intense weeks learning and implementing investigation field techniques, which include fingerprinting cadaver tissue (as seen above).

In this activity, students are 'suited up' in their tyvek gear, and each recieve a piglet for processing*.  

The students above are learning how to lift fingerprints from a cadaver, using the pigs as an analog. First they need to shave the pigs, to be able to deposit fingerprints directly on the skin without interference from their hair. They then use chemical reagents to develop fingerprints on skin that were deposited in blood: Hungarian Red, Amido Black and the Leucocrystal Violet reactions.

*Note: UTM's commitment to ethical research includes animal samples. The piglets in this activity are still born, and thus none are euthanized for our purposes. Special thanks to lab tech Agata Gapinska-Serwin for the photos, and the above information!

Ident 2019

 

Psychology

Publication Feature: Dr. Rosenberg-Larsen

Rasmus Larsen

Dr. Rosenberg Larsen and colleague, Dr. David Sackris (Arapahoe Community College), recently published an article in The Journal of Value Inquiry critiquing a well-known philosophical theory that defines "aesthetic experience". David Sackris & Larsen, R. R. (2019). A Consideration of Carroll's Content Theory. The Journal of Value Inquiry, 1-13. doi.org/10.1007/s10790-019-09693-6

In addition, Dr. Rosenberg Larsen and colleague, Dr. Janna Hastings (University College London), recently presented a research project they have been working on for the past year at various conferences in Europe. In this work they propose a novel method to expand, standardize, and bring semantic coherence to the terminology used to describe symptoms in psychiatric diagnostics; a recurring problem in the attempt to facilitate accurate and reliable data annotation, as well as interdisciplinary research integration in mental health research. The project is titled: "Mapping the Patient's Experience: An Applied Ontological Framework for Phenomenological Psychopathology".

  • 25-27 April: Nordic Society for Phenomenology (NoSP) 2019 annual meeting, University of Copenhagen.
  • 4-6 June: San Raffaele Spring School of Philosophy 2019 (SRSSP 2019), San Raffaele University.
  • 14-16 June: Swedish Congress of Philosophy (Filosofidagarna), University of Umeå.
 

 

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Pink Shirt Day 2019 - Forensic Science & Anthropology supporting breast cancer research & awareness at UTM 

Pink Shirt Day

Left: FSC academic advisor Teresa Cabral strikes a pose. Right: Anthro/Forensic admin (L-R) Angela Sidoriak (Undergraduate Administrator); Joanne Kao (Financial Officer); Carolyn Loos; (Department Manager); Joanna Trochanowski (Departmental Assistant) Below: The admin team with Murray Clayton (Program Officer).

On Friday, August 23rd 2019, the administration for the Forensic Science Program and the Anthropology Department came together to show their support for breast cancer awareness. 

UPCOMING RUN FOR THE CURE EVENTS

  • Tuesday, September 10 (lunch hour) – Ice Cream Day.
    The UTM Run for the Cure Organizing Team will be selling ice-cream desserts over the lunch hour as a fundraiser.
  • Tuesday, September 17th, 12 – 1:30 (one sitting) Pink Luncheon.
    Ticket sales will begin shortly for this annual event in partnership with the Faculty Club.
  • Tuesday, September 24th, 12-1 - Pink Walk. There is a a campus walk, in partnership with the RAWC Wellness Routes.
  • Sunday, October 6, 10 a.m. – Run for the Cure. UTM is proud to be the host site for the CIBC Run for the Cure in Mississauga!

Interested in joining the UTM Run Team? Please visit https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/faculty-staff/2019-run-cure. Note: if you raise $150 for the run as a UTM Team participant, you will receive a UTM Run shirt at the run.

Interested in contributing to the team in other ways? The annual silent auction will be held at the Pink Luncheon. Forensic Science/Anthropology will be putting together a gift basket of great items to bid on!

We will see you there!

PSD

 

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Program alumna brings outreach skills to Youthlink Calgary 

Jocelyn CTV

Blink and you'll miss her, but FSc Program Alumna Jocelyn Huang has taken her experience from the UTM Forensic Outreach Program to the Youthlink Calgary Summer Program in this CTV News report.

Youthlink Calgary holds a forensic summer camp much like our very own Camp U of T! Teaching youth about the roles of police in their communities, they hold over 50 interactive displays for children to explore.

It only makes sense that as the 2018-2019 Forensic Outreach Pantology Award recipient, FSC alumna Jocelyn Huang has found a way to continue her outstanding commitment to community outreach, bringing the public into the world of forensic science.

Click here to watch the CTV News report, and check out the timestamps below to see Jocelyn in action!

7:15am at 1:21:05

7:42am at 1:42:08

8:11am at 2:05:28

8:46am at 2:32:29

The Youthlink Calgary Interpretive Centre offers police camps all year round, including for the summer, P.D. days, and school breaks! To find out more, check out their website here.

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Forensic Science represented at MED-YSP 2019 

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Forensic Chemistry specialist Wilson Chung (bottom left) with the 2019 MED-YSP team.

Each summer, the Medicine Youth Summer Program offers high school students an exclusive glimpse into the world of medicine and medical research by the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine. Students from across North America and around the world are invited to learn at Canada’s most prestigious medical school!

This summer, Forensic Chemistry specialist student Wilson Chung brought his own training and expertise as a facilitator for the academic module: Molecular Biology and Genetics: Applications in Forensics and Medicine. Through mock scenarios and staged investigations, the students learn about techniques and technologies through experiential education. Wilson's own experience as a specialist student and a Forensic Science Outreach Program volunteer certainly make him an ideal candidate to teach the scientists of tomorrow!

In true UTM Forensic fashion, authenticity was high on the priority list for Wilson, who reflects: 
"I feel like we could've used more blood, but we were using fake blood, which is oddly harder to clean up. It was also still a public space so we didn't want to go too crazy."

To learn more about the Medicine Youth Summer Program, and the academic modules offered for high school students, check out their website here.

 

Psychology

Fall 2019 Highlight: FSC220 Forensic Psychology

Psych

Forensic Psychology

This course provides an introductory overview of the many ways psychological research and theories (i.e. behavioural science) can deliver useful information in collecting and assessing evidence for criminal investigation, trial, and prevention. Topics may include: eyewitness testimony, deception, criminal profiling, false confession, mental illness, victim trauma, criminal responsibility, risk assessment, serial killing, hate crimes, sexual offending, prejudiced policing, and jury decision-making. The aim of this course is to give students general insight into the various applied specializations of forensic psychologists.

Prerequisites: PSY100Y5 or FSC239Y5

 

registration

 

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FSc Convocation 2019

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Congratulations to our 2019 graduates of the Forensic Science Program! We are incredibly proud of all the hard work and effort that you've put into your four years here with us. We look forward to seeing what the future brings for each and every one of you!

For the full album of the day's events, visit the UTM Forensic Science Flickr Page Here.

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Biology

Fall 2019 Special Topics Course:
FSC350 Forensic Biology in the News

Coming up in the new academic year, our special topics course will be offering a new theme, taught by Dr. Novroski, in time for fall enrolment.

Novroski

Forensic Biology in the News

A lecture-based course examining contemporary topics in forensic biology. The course will emphasize group discussion where students will examine, review, criticize, and present on current trends and fundamental topics within forensic biology, which could include evidence screening and serology, DNA analysis methodology, forensic technological developments /enhancements as well as current ethical and/or political changes in the field. The implications and applications of forensic biology research advances will also be explored.

Prerequisite:  FSC239Y5, FSC271H5, BIO152H5 and BIO153. This course is intended to be inclusive for all forensic students, including those enrolled in the Minor program.

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Bloodstain Pattern Analysis 2019

BPA Certification

Forensic students, faculty, and alum pose with retired officer and course instructor Craig C. Moore (left) after completing their certification training in blood pattern analysis. 

In May, students, alumni, and faculty members Eugene Liscio and Helen Guyrn attended a week long certification in basic blood pattern analysis and recognition, hosted here at the University of Toronto Mississauga. 

Students executed their own experiements to identify stains, resuting in a fantastic opportunity for experiential education. Many thanks go to Craig Moore for an invaluable week of learning. 

BPA students

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IVNVI Forensics Gala 2019

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L to R: Students of the FSc Program Allana Braga and Olivia Giaccobo (HBSc graduates), Tori Berezowski (MSc graduate) and Jenna Macrae (MSc student).

In March, IVNVI The Forensics Society hosted a gala evening for all members of the Forensics Program, their friends, and their loved ones. With special recognition for academic achievement and community engagement, this event celebrated all the hard work and successes of those involved in making the program such a success within and outside of the classroom. 

Undergrads, graduate students, faculty and staff were in attendance to enjoy being a part of this great program.

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Students in each specialist program were nominated by forensic program faculty members for an award in academic excellence. (L to R) Dr. Tracy Rogers (Anthropology), Dr Rasmus Rosenberg Larsen (Psychology), Dr. Nicole Novroski (Biology), Jesse Garcia (Biology), Paige Holmes (Psychology), Olivia Liu (Anthropology), Jackie Han (Chemistry) and Dr. Vivienne Luk (Chemistry)  
A full gallery of the IVNVI Forensics Society Gala can be found on their official facebook page 
 

 

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Internship Class of 2019 -  24th Annual Forensic Science Day 

FSC Day 2019

The 2019 graduating FSC481Y internship class, at the end of a successful Forensic Science Day. Far left: Dr. Tracy Rogers, course instructor and program director, and teaching assistant Vanessa Rossi).

A big congratulations to the 2018-2019 Internship FSC481Y class! On Saturday, April 6th, 31 forensic science specialist majors presented their year long research in their internship fields. Talks subjects ranged from submerged bodies in Lake Simcoe, to anemia in natural deaths, to transgender death investigations in Ontario, to provide only three of many examples.

The Forensic Science Program is incredibly proud of the hard work our specialist students have executed throughout the year, culminating in this annual event.

A special thanks to The Blind Duck for the fantastic lunch and reception, as well as the UTM Print & Copy Centre for their efforts in also making the day a success.

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(Left) Incoming internship student Kim Tran is introduced to a potential mentor by Internship Coordinator Teresa Cabral. (Right) 2019 Internship students Charlotte LeFévre, Amy Dylewska, Yoanna Mustilier and Marvimar Castroverde pose around the now iconic FSC Program banner. 
A full gallery of the 24th Annual Forensic Science Day can be found here. 

 

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Canadian Universities for Forensic Science hosted at UTM

CUFFS

(Inset: The welcoming slide for C.U.F.F.S. 2019).

On Friday, April 5th, Canadian Universities for Forensic Science (C.U.F.F.S) hosted their inaugural conference entitled, "Promoting Collaboration" right here at the UTM campus. Speakers, delegates and guests from all over the country attended to offer discourse on collaboration and multidisciplinary approaches to forensic science. The Forensic Science Program's own professors Dr. Vivienne Luk and Wade Knaap held a fascinating talk on cross-course collaboration. The welcoming statement was given by UTM's own Principal, Ulrich Krull, and many of our students gave talks or poster presentations. Congratulations to all of our community members who contributed to this day's success!

With a sizeable turnout, interesting topics, and lots of great giveaways, this conference brought some of the best and brightest Canadian forensic minds together.

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(Inset: Retired Detective Constable Wade Knaap and Dr. Vivienne Luk discuss the importance of collaboration, as exemplified in their cross-course project, combining FSC311 - Forensic Chemistry and FSC407 Advanced Forensic Identification).
For a gallery of the day's events, follow this link. For more about C.U.F.F.S., be sure to check out their website or Facebook page.
 

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Forensic Science Program at the UTM March Open House

MOH

(Inset: Forensic students Jocelyn Huang, Emma Smith, Esme Newling, Leanne Byrne, Alida Trieu).

On Sunday, March 31 2019, the Forensic Science Program helped welcome prospective students to our campus. We offered information presentations given by our academic advisor Teresa Cabral, one-on-one discussions with professors Dr. Luk and Dr. Novroski, and tours of the CSI house run by undergraduate volunteers. A big thank you to our team for helping the the best and brightest in high school with their biggest decision yet! 

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(Inset: Forensic students Evie Strickland and Nicole Chow answer questions, while Charlotte Le Fevre, Kevin Kim and Emma Tighe represent the IVNVI Forensic Society. Volunteers not shown: Tatiana Babolas, April Abit).
 

Cookie

Campus will be closed December 24, 2018 - January 4, 2019

Happy Holidays!

Biology

FSC350: Important technical issues regarding enrolment

For students currently enrolled in one or both of our FSC350 courses, please be aware of the following:

Students have been de-enrolled in order to be shifted to the new course number, slated to come online soon. At this point, you are de-enrolled but not enrolled in anything else. We are aware of this change.  The Registrar’s office is currently in the process of changing the course numbers for LEC0103 and LEC0104, which require students to be removed from FSC350. 

We expect everyone's enrolment in the correct courses to be resolved by January.  Thank you for your patience, and we apologise for any inconvenience.

Biology

The Varisty feature: UTM Expands Forensic Science Program

FSC350

(Inset: Hailey Chan and Juliette Belanger-Bienvenue ).

The forensic science program was featured in the University of Toronto's student newspaper, The Varsity. Check out their article detailing new upcoming courses, and interviews, here.

Psychology

Publication Feature: Professor Rosenberg-Larsen

The Forensic Science Program is proud to have been an open source sponser of Forensic Psychology professor Dr. Larsen's latest publication: False-Positives in Psychopathy Assessment: Proposing Theory-Driven Exclusion Criteria in Research Sampling. 

The method outlined in this paper is intended to be applied to psychology research sampling forensic science.

Rasmus Larsen

Click the citation below to be taken to the article:

Larsen R. 2018. False-Positives in Psychopathy Assessment: Proposing Theory-Driven Exclusion Criteria in Research Sampling. European Journal of Analytic Philosophy, 14:1.

Dr. Rosenberg-Larsen also recently published an article exploring improvements in psychopathy research, in terms of facilitating methods for better sampling:

Anthropology

Tracy Rogers: Bare Bones of Research

Rogers

In case you missed it, Dr. Rogers shared her path through research and forensic anthropology, and as a consultant with the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service, for the podcast "View to the U: An Eye on UTM Research".

You can catch the podcast here.

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Congratulations to UTM Alumni Meadow and Michael!

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(Left to right: Professor Wade Knaap (Forensic Identification Instructor), Special Constable Meadow Libby, Special Constable Michael Ho, Doctor Tracy Rogers (Forensic Program Director).

Last month, UTM alumni Meadow Libby and Michael Ho were presented with their officer badges as Forensic Special Contables with the Hamilton Police Service. Their roles consist of forensic photography, vehicle examination, fingerprint recovery, DNA collection, and exhibit collection. we are very proud of the hard work and dedication you have exhibited as representatives of our program!

See their alumni stories here:

Meadow Libby
Michael Ho

Biology

New Spring courses now available! Enrol now!

Two new Special Topics courses are now available for spring enrolment. They will be taught by our professor of forensic biology, Dr. Novroski. Apply today!

Nicole Novroski

FSC350H5S LEC0103 Missing Persons DVI and Unidentified Human Remains
The goal of this course is to gain a basic understanding of the case management involved in missing persons, disaster victim identification, and unidentified human remains cases.  Topics covered will include the interdisciplinary interactions between anthropology, odontology, fingerprinting and forensic genetics in the identification and databasing of both missing persons and recovered unidentified human remains. 
 
Prerequisite:  ANT202H5 / BIO207H5 (Priority given first to FSC SPE, FSC MAJ then FSC MIN)
DNA
FSC350H5S LEC0104 DNA Typing using Massively Parallel Sequencing
This course will explore Massively Parallel Sequencing (MPS), a next-generation technology used for DNA typing in research and many clinical areas.  The focus will be on forensic applications of the MPS technology, however other uses such as health and disease research, genome-wide association studies (GWAS), and potential RNA and protein applications will also be discussed. 
 
Prerequisite:  ANT202H5 / BIO207H5 (Priority given first to FSC SPE, FSC MAJ then FSC MIN)

Note: These courses satisfy the UTM Science Distribution Credit Requirement.

 

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