Fingerprinting, Blood Analysis All Part of SOU’s Forensic Workshop

Andrew Vargas, a Phoenix High School student, works with Southern Oregon University Chemistry Professor Douglas Chapman during the 2010 forensics workshop. Photo courtesy Southern Oregon University.

(Ashland, Ore.) — Don’t be alarmed if you see police tape throughout the Southern Oregon University Science Building on Oct. 29—it’s all part of SOU’s CSI-style forensic science workshop.

High school and community college students from southern Oregon and northern California will participate in the seventh annual, hands-on Science Workshop, solving a crime using state-of-the-art instruments. The free workshop still has spots available, but time is running out. The deadline to sign up is Oct. 21.

“Students are presented with a crime, given a list of suspects, identify blood types and fingerprints, and also run drug tests…it makes for a fun and suspenseful day,” says Associate Professor of Bioorganic Chemistry, Hala Schepmann. “This year’s crime will be our most challenging yet. In fact, every year students ask us to make it harder.”

Chemistry major Cady Lancaster, 21, from Klamath Falls, attended the workshop in 2007, and said her experience helped her decide to attend SOU.

“The fact that the professors cared enough to be there and work with high school students really impressed me,” Lancaster says. “The workshop offered me a look into the applications of chemistry outside of my high school textbooks and lab in a fun and interesting setting.”

The experience she had that day has only been reinforced throughout her time at SOU, she adds.

“A lot of friends from high school ended up going to schools like Johns Hopkins University, St. Louis University and other larger schools. My courses are taught by professors, whereas my friends are taught by grad students. I have learned from professors with doctorates who are passionate about their students. Because of that advantage, I was able to out-perform my friends on American Chemical Society exams.”

During the workshop, students are grouped into teams and given clues. They work alongside SOU faculty and students, learning how to use instruments that real-world scientists use. They also tour the SOU campus and discuss career options with faculty.

Students will be served a complimentary lunch. The workshop runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Oct. 29. Students should be high school juniors or higher and have already taken a high school science course, preferably chemistry. Attendees must be accompanied by their science instructor or parent.

To find out more or to register, contact Hala Schepmann, associate professor of bioorganic chemistry at 541-552-8172 or by e-mail at schepmah@sou.edu.

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