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Department of Biological Sciences

FSU HomeBiologyForensic Science ProgramFAQ

      The Only FEPAC Accredited

         Program In North Carolina

Khalid Lodhi
Professor of Biology
Director Forensic Science Program
Office: STB 322
Phone: (910) 672-1650


Ms. Shawnta' Cummings
Academic Advisor
Office: LSA 220
Phone: (910) 672-2625

M-F 9:00 am-11:30 am and 1:30 pm-4:30 pm
*Additional hours available by appointment only.

Forensic Science Program Links


What is The Forensic Science Field?
Forensic science is the application of scientific methods and process to matter that involves crimes or the public. Because many different fields of science can be applied to these matters, forensic science has become a very interdisciplinary field. Some of the main areas of forensic science are listed below: 
  1. Chemistry; uses many quantitative chemical methods for law enforcement matters.
  2. Biology; uses protein or DNA based techniques to solve forensic issues.
  3. Criminalities; a sub field of pathology involved with determining the cause of death by examination of the corpse.
  4. Entomology; primarily associated with investigations of death. the presence of certain insect may indicate the location of death as well as how long the victim has been deceased.
  5. Psychology; this sub field of forensic is involved with interpretation of polygraph tests as well as determining the competency of a person to stand trial and determining the mental state of a person submitting an insanity plea.
What is a degree in Forensic Science?

Many Universities offer degrees called "Forensic" at both Bachelor and Master level. The programs train students in the interactions between an academic specialty and the legal system through, forensic biology, forensic anthropology, forensic psychology, forensic chemistry and forensic in computer science. A graduate program is for the students that want to become a technical leader, supervisor or director of a forensic laboratory. An undergraduate program of four years is for the student who wants to become a laboratory practitioner, or an investigator. 

Are all forensic Science Programs the same?

Definitely not! They differ in focus depending on their area of specialization, and they differ in competence. Some programs are little more than loose grouping of courses that any student would take: whereas other programs are very focused with specialized courses taught by practitioners in forensic science

What does a forensic scientist do?

 A forensic scientist is a scientist who usually works in a laboratory setting analyzing particular types of evidences, writing reports and testifying in court as an expert witness. In some cases, a forensic scientist may attend a crime or other incident scenes to help reconstruct the crime, or help in the recognition, collection, and preservation of evidence within their specialty. For example, a forensic anthropologist may be called upon to collect skeletal remains found in the woods. A forensic chemist maybe asked to help in processing a clandestine drug. A trace evidence examiner may be asked to collect hairs and fibers and other traces from a homicide scene. Usually the crime scene component of the job of a forensic scientist is a minor part job relatively.

Many forensic scientists work in forensic crime laboratories; in united states, there are more than 4000 crime laboratories, administered by federal, state, or local government or private sector. Most crime laboratories employ scientists in the areas of forensic chemistry, forensic biology; mainly for DNA serology, and criminalistics; fingerprints, questioned documents, firearms and tool marks.

What is best route to prepare for a career as a forensic scientist? 

In order to become a forensic scientist, one must become well grounded in the sciences that are important to the discipline. For example, a forensic pathologist must be educated in medicine and pathology. A forensic entomologist must be educated in the biological sciences and entomology.

If you wish to work in a crime laboratory as a forensic chemist or biologist, you must have a thorough grounding in the basic sciences of biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. This can be achieved by obtaining a college degree in one of these sciences, making sure that the others are also covered. Courses in Criminal justice maybe useful to some extent, but a major in Criminal justice is not adequate preparation for a career in forensic science. Crime laboratory directors look first for a solid science background to make the decision to hire a forensic scientist.

After obtaining a strong science background, it is best to specialize in one of the forensic science areas which is most interesting. You may go to medical school to become a forensic pathologist. You may go to the graduate school to obtain a master or PhD Degree in engineering to become a forensic engineer. To prepare for a career in crime laboratories, it is recommended that you pursue a master's degree in forensic science.

 Where is Forensic science taught in the United States and around the world?

A list of Forensic science programs worldwide can be found in the American Academy of Forensic Science web site. There are many programs at the Bachelor's and Master's level, and a few in Ph.D. program level. You should visit the school that you are interested in, and find more details about the program and discuss your goals with the faculty or administrators before you make any decision.

What criteria should I use to make a judgment about attending the Forensic science program at FSU? 
  1. How long has the program been in existence and how many students have graduated? The program at FSU started in 2006 and a total of 20 students have graduated.
  2. Are there Forensic practitioners that are part of the faculty of the forensic science program at FSU? Dr. Lodhi is a forensic scientist who has worked as a forensic scientist and senior scientist in public crime laboratory and private forensic laboratories as a forensic DNA investigator/ scientist.
  3. Is there a forensic science laboratory/ Agency associated with the academic program at FSU? The forensic science program has collaborations with the local crime laboratory of Fayetteville sheriff Office, and the County and State crime laboratories of the State Bureau Investigation.
  4. Does the program include training internship or research projects? Yes, our students have had training internship at local and State crime laboratories.
  5. What about the facilities and faculty? Are students learning up-to-date theory and practicing on state-of-art technology? Yes, our forensic laboratories are state-of-art such as Thermocyclers, real time PCR, genetic analyzer, HPLC,GC/MS, and other instruments.  
Is the Forensic science program accredited?

While the program is following the standards of the Forensic Science Education programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the program is not yet accredited. However, the accreditation process is underway.

Whom of the faculty are involved in the program?

The faculty members are: Dr. Erin White, Dr. Lieceng Zhu, Ms. Natalia Czado, and Dr. Khalid Lodhi

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