Forensic scientist skills – ballistics!

Forensic scientist skills and understanding of ballistics.

Forensic scientist ballistics
Image: Bullets and images
Creative Commons BY SA.

Content Authors:

Dr Mark Fowler

Level:

College, University, Specialist

OER Features:

A set of 18 photographs showing a series of fired and unfired bullets. Click through to Flickr to download them and REUSE them!

Forensic scientist training photographs

OER Description:

An important area that the forensic scientist needs to learn about and understand, and that undergraduate students on forensic science degrees will study is ballistics. This is the understanding of firearms and types of bullets that may well have been used at the scene of a crime, and the understanding of the trajectories of bullets to provide further clues and information.

An important step in finding the perpetrator of a gunshot crime will be identifying the weapon, and even if the weapon is not still at the scene of the crime, much information can be gained from the bullets which will provide valuable evidence. The bullets themselves will leave burn marks and traces of substances on the individual firing the machine. If the gun has any indentations of features, this will be transferred onto the bullet, so the bullet can lead the forensic scientist and crime team to a particular fire arm.

This open educational resource simply comprises of a series of photographs of different fired and unfired bullets. These are free to use and reuse in your own teaching or learning context – so feel free to package them up into other educational resources if you are a tutor, lecturer or professor. If you are a student studying to be a forensic scientist you are welcome to use these images as part of a coursework assignment.

Forensic scientist skills – fingerprints!

What is a forensic scientist and what skills do they need?

Forensic scientist skills - fingerprinting
Image: Fingerprint morphology
Creative Commons BY SA.

Content Authors:

Dr Mark Fowler

Level:

College, University, Specialist

OER Features:

A set of 11 photographs showing the morphology of the fingerprint.

Forensic scientist training photographs

 

OER Description:

Part of Forensic Science degrees and courses at university and an essential part of training for the forensic scientist will be the understanding finger prints – that is the patterns and impressions left by human fingers and thumbs. The morphology of the finger comprises of a series of ridges called friction ridges which are formed by the epidermis of the skin.

The epidermis is formed from a stratified squamous epithelium which is keratinized – that is – it contains a tough protein to make the skin barrier impenetrable and tough. The complex patterns of the friction ridges mean that practically no two finger prints are identical; therefore they are useful identifiers of individuals who may have been present at the scene of a crime. The identification of fingerprints is known as dactyloscopy, and learning how to identify prints and use them to provide robust crime scene evidence is an important part of the job of a forensic scientist.

At the scene of a crime, finger prints may be left naturally by sweat and or oil that might have been released from glands in the skin, or more often powders and inks are applied to highlight the appearance of the prints. The series of photographs in this resource contain high power photographs of the surface of the skin and you might be amazed to see how the ridges form the surface. Other images illustrate the important components of the finger print itself that are used by the forensic scientist as part of their investigations.