Research in Forensic Chemistry

Faculty Sponsor

Jon Schoer


Arts and Sciences


Chemistry Department

ORCID Identifier(s)

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-4-2017


Valparaiso University recently added a forensic science minor. As part of the minor, a course in forensic chemistry is being developed. Experiments for the course were designed, developed, and/or adapted from established methods used in forensic chemistry laboratories or other resources. Some of the developed experiments are described here. Experiments were conducted and experimental procedures were written and were subsequently followed by other scientists (students) to determine if the expected results were obtained. Experimental procedures contained background information, a description of applications to crime scenes, the procedure, and a lab report sheet. Several lab experiments were designed, including: determination of metal residues on hands from metal weapon; separation of ink dyes; analysis of suspected drug mixtures by IR, GCMS, and LCMS; analysis of potential gunshot residue; determination of the refractive index of glass fragments. Some of the different techniques used include: colorimetric analysis with 8-hydroxyquinoline, thin layer chromatography, infrared spectroscopy, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and refractometry.

Keywords: chemistry, forensic chemistry, gas chromatography, colorimetric analysis, bullet hole analysis, thin layer chromatography, spectroscopy

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Samantha Prentice is a senior chemistry major at Valparaiso University.

Paige Pressler is a senior chemistry and global service double major, Spanish and biology minor at Valparaiso University. She plans to attend medical school after graduating.

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