Forensic Science students get access all areas in New York

Students on DMU’s Forensic Science course were taken from the crime scene, to the forensic laboratory and all the way to the court as part of a packed week in New York.

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Thanks to the excellent contacts of DMU’s Forensic Science team, the students got inside access to some of the USA’s most renowned crime investigation and judicial centres.

And the programme of academic activities touched on all the key aspects of the course, with the students remarking on the clear links back to areas they had studied in the classroom in Leicester.

Third-year student Elinor Skipper said: “We’ve done six academic activities and it’s been really good because they cover quite a range of topics on our course.

“My favourite part of the week was when we went on a tour of Ground Zero because it tied in with our module on fire, arson and explosives and I’ve always been fascinated by the forensic aspect of 9/11.”

Such was the scale of the tragedy in New York on September 11, 2001, forensic scientists are still working on remains.

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The DMU students’ module on DNA profiling touches on exactly this scenario, where fragmented remains, high pressure and high temperatures result in DNA being in much smaller sections.

This linked into another key part of the study trip, which was a visit to the New York Medical Examiner, which included a guided tour of the laboratories.

Trip lead and DMU Forensic Science lecturer Leisa Nichols-Drew was particularly thrilled to be able to take her students to the centre, which houses the largest DNA unit in the USA and where the 9/11 investigations continue.

“We’re very fortunate to have been invited there for a tour because it’s only really usually open to American institutions,” Leisa said.

“The brilliant thing about our team at DMU is that we come with vast experience and a lot of us are still doing case work, so we have good contacts.

“That means we have common ground when we try to reach out to arrange these sort of visits. I am still a forensic biology practitioner and was able to use contacts in New York to arrange the visit. We are really honoured.”

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The students were taken into various laboratories while on the visit and then into the anthropology unit where staff had laid out two complete skeletons from actual cases. Students were challenged to establish cause of death and identify the sex of the skeletons.

The party was also able to visit the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which runs one of the most prestigious Forensic Science courses in the United States and is a possible option for DMU students wishing to pursue a master’s.

The trip as a whole certainly did prove to be an eye-opener for the third year students now considering their options after graduation this summer.

Student Kayleigh Simmonds said: “I’m quite unsure of what I want to do after uni, I don’t know whether I want to go into work, or do an internship, or a master’s.

“Coming over to New York, I see that there are loads of possibilities, and I could even come to a different country to study.

“The NYPD was talking about internships and that they do a master’s and can assist you in paying for it. They were really lovely people.”

The packed week ended with a visit to New York’s Supreme and Criminal Courts. A tour of the Supreme Court was followed by the opportunity to sit in on an actual trial for grand larceny and burglary over at the Criminal Court.

The students were witness to some fascinating courtroom exchanges, including a classic ‘Objection! Sustained!’ exchange when a key witness strayed into reporting hearsay.

The Forensic Science trip was part of the third mass #DMUglobal visit to New York, which featured a range of academic activities as well as DMU’s second #JoinTogether summit at the United Nations.
Posted on Monday 11th June 2018

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