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


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.



Biology Courses US Road Trip!

Well it has been a while and it might look like nothing has been happening, but the Biology Courses team have been busy working on this website and packaging up some of our open educational resources (OERs) into online courses with quizzes and feedback.

The other exciting news it that Dr Viv Rolfe, who heads up the team, in two weeks time will be flying off to the United States for a conference and to meet with academics to talk about the Biology Courses project and open educational resources and activities at De Montfort University in Leicester.

Biology Courses Vegas Trip

City of Las Vegas by DunGoofd at Wikipedia.
CC BY SA 2.0.

In the first leg of the trip Viv will be flying to Las Vegas for an international learning technology conference. (I must stop calling it Las Vagus – once a biologist, always a biologist!). The meeting is the Sloan Consortium Annual Conference entitled “5th Annual International Symposium for Emerging Technologies for Online Learning” and starts at the end of July 2012. It will showcase the work of institutions and academics from around the globe who’s aim is to enhance online education. The conference is in partnership with MERLOT, one of the leading US repositories for open educational resources (OERs). Viv is due to give a 50 minute lecture to the Sloan audience. Is she daunted by the task? Of course not!

Following that she flies to Boston to visit the University of Boston, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT – who were the first education establishment to open their doors and give access to all their learning resources. Since then, it is probably fair to say most universities and colleges around the globe are now involved in open education in some way – either as providers of materials, using materials, or being involved in networks and discussions about open education not just in relation to biology courses but any subject discipline from arts to science.

The Biology Courses project is still only 9 months old and a huge amount has happened, quite often behind the scenes and not always apparent from this website. We have bundles of resources ready to be released, and are developing our Moodle Courses so prospective students and students due to come to university can try out some of the stuff that those doing biology courses at uni will actually experience.

The most exciting thing about the project is that it has involved students from the start providing ideas for materials and writing ALL the quiz and multiple choice questions as part of their biomedical science and medical science degrees at De Montfort. The project is very lucky to have some student volunteers working on it over the summer as well as students on the university’s new “Front Runners” scheme which provides undergraduates with paid work experience from a choice of almost every department around the university, from working in a laboratory, to marketing, finance and more!

So follow this BLOG and look for updates on FACEBOOK and TWITTER to follow Viv’s progress as the Biology Courses project tours the United States in July and August.


Parasite science teaching resources

Recent conference news

New science teaching resources are about to be shared onto the internet by Malgorzata Rekas, who is heading up the biomedical science team in producing open educational resources as part of the UKOER phase 3 programme project “HALSOER” (Health and Life Science Open Educational Resources). At a recent conference, she jointly won a prize for the best poster.

The conference hosted by Bart’s and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, and was organised by the Higher Education Academy and was entitled, “From curiosity to confidence: sharing what it takes to ‘go open’ with learning and teaching resources” on 27th April 2012. Most of the discussion topics involved best practice in creating and sharing open educational materials. The HALS team produced a poster demonstrating example of science teaching resources completed so far at De Montfort. This included parasitology, where OERs are being developed in collaboration with external partners at local Leicester hospitals to review a range of parasites, with emphasis on diagnosis. Malgorzata is also producing OERs on mycology (fungi), and is highlighting a number of different fungi that are common causes of skin diseases. The team were awarded a shared first place for the poster presentation.

science teaching resources


Click on image above for large version

At the conference, several subjects relevant to open education practice were discussed, including copyright and licensing, learning materials development, and different approaches taken to producing OERs. The copyright, licensing, consent and ethical issues were matters especially emphasised on the day.

Professor Megan Quentin- Baxter from the University of Newcastle and Doctor Jane Williams from the University of Bristol delivered a presentation about the available policy tools to facilitate sharing learning resources as well as importance of understanding of copyrights and consent issues. The discussion detailed reusing learning materials, citing and attributing resources, as well as guidance on including recordings of people in science teaching resources and materials.

Paul Scott from the Hull York Medical School discussed Accredited Clinical Teaching Open Resources (ACTOR Project) and their institutional approaches in building on existing community practice to simplify sharing and utilising learning resources. Furthermore Suzanne Hardy talked through her experiences from the following projects; Pathways for Open Resources Sharing through Convergence in Health Education (PORSCHE), Organising Open Educational Resources (OOER), and PublishOER project, all part of the UKOER programme.

Overall the day proved to be very interesting as it highlighted the many challenges that we face in developing OERs, and the HALS team gained insight into how other institutions are tackling these. During the conference the key questions “how to publish learning materials to avoid legal barriers?”, and “why bother with OERs?” were asked and given a broad discussion.

As open education and open learning gathers momentum in the UK and indeed around the world, the community can look forward to further biomedical science teaching resources from the HALS team.

Malgorzata Rekas