Monday, 22 June 2015

The Many Fields Of Forensic Science

The world of forensics is very broad and includes many fields and subfields in science. This post intends to give a general overview to their applications. There is no order of priority of any kind that was followed. Consideration was only made to focus on important forensic applications
or use of the fields or subfields mentioned below.
This is just an attempt to bring to view how these scientific fields can be applied from a forensic point of view.
1. Forensic Anthropology
This uses the knowledge of anthropology for identification such as sex, age, race, facial reconstruction of humans from their skeleton.
2. Forensic Archaeology
It involves using archaeological techniques and methods in search and recovery of evidence such excavations of human remains from clandestine (secret) graves. This is very useful in determining sites of mass graves and recovery of victims.
3. Forensic Biology
The use of biological science in forensics. This field can be subdivided into several subfields such as bodily fluids, human anatomy etc.
4. Forensic Botany
This applies the knowledge of fauna(plants) morphology(outer features) anatomy(inner features) and physiology (functions) in forensics.
There are sub fields of palynology (study of pollen grains), Genetics, limnology, systematics or taxonomy (classification & identification). Pollen grains from trees and plants can stick to a suspect which can link them to a particular location.
5. Forensic Ballistics
This uses the knowledge of how firearms work to identifying or relating a particular bullet to the gun of an individual from an empty shell.
6. Forensic Chemistry
It involves the use of chemical techniques and instrumentation in identifying banned or controlled, toxic substances and human parts such as hairs. Subfields include trace elements, toxicology etc.
7. Forensic Computing
ICT can be used to track online scammers, bank fraudsters hackers etc. Subfields may include Crime scene animation and Digital Forensics( science of data recovery from digital devices)
8. Forensic Entomology
This applies the knowledge of insects and their successive arrival to a crime scene. It involves the use of insects to estimate the time of death, duration after death of an individual and quality control purposes in checking the integrity of various food items.
9. Crime Scene Investigation (CSI)
This involves processes and activities carried out investigating a crime such as securing a crime scene, collecting and storage evidence etc
10. Crime Scene Intelligence (Reconstruction)
This subfield is concerned with using witness and scientific evidence in analysing, interpreting and piecing the whole story of how a crime was committed thereby reconstructing the crime.
11. Forensic Odontology
The use of the study of dental structure to identify victims.
12. Forensic Photography
It involves the use of hi-tech imaging techniques to identify doctored images and other photo related issues.
13. Forensic Serology
This applies scientific techniques to identify individuals from bodily fluids such as semen, blood, sweat, saliva, urine etc DNA is often the material of interest.
14. Forensic Pathology
It is a subfield in medicine that applies the knowledge of pathology(study of diseases) to determine the manner and cause of death of a victim in forensics.
15. Forensic Toxicology
Its a subfield in chemistry that focuses on toxic substances such as poisons, drugs etc in forensics.
16. Forensic DNA Analysis
This is the use of scientific methods in extracting DNA from living things plant parts, blood, skin and several parts of humans. Normally, this is used to compare against known or obtained samples for identification of living things.
17. Forensic Geophysics
It is the application of geophysical survey techniques in determining the location of a material or area of interest such as mass graves, buried remains of victims in shallow graves.
Techniques may include electromagnetic resonance, ground penetrative radar etc.
18. Criminalistics
This is the scientific way of studying evidences.
19. Forensic Acoustics
This uses the study of sound waves and its properties in forensics.
20. Forensic Linguistics
It involves the application of speech, handwriting analysis in forensics.
21. Forensic Dactyloscopy
This is the comparison of fingerprints for identification of individuals in forensics. No two individuals have the same fingerprint pattern except in the case of identical twins.
22. Forensic Podiatry
It applies the study of footwear and  tyre impressions and prints to identify suspects through the manufacturer of their shoes or tyres.
23. Forensic Psychology
Involves the study of the mind of criminals, their social, cultural, and bio anthropological backgrounds.
24. Forensic Psychiatry
A subfield of psychology that focuses on the mind of an individual.
25. Forensic Optometry
This focuses on eye wears analysis in forensics.
26. Forensic Video Analysis
This involves the scientific examination of videos in forensics.
27. Blood Spatter Analysis
It refer to the study of the pattern and shape blood forms on a surface and the manner it strikes the surface. It is used to determine whether a homicide was committed or not.
28. Questioned Documents
The is involves the examination of questionable documents and answering of questions relating to such in legal matters.
29. Forensic Seismology
This involves differentiating between man made and natural seismic signals on land or water.
30. Forensic Mobile Device
Examining and evaluations of mobile device evidences such as call history, contacts etc
31 Forensic Meteorology
This involves the use of specific analysis of previous weather conditions in forensics.
32. Forensic Laminology
This uses freshwater sources to link suspects to a crime scene.
33. Forensic Geology
Its the application of trace evidence such as soils, minerals and petroleum in legal issues.
34.  Forensic Interviews
The science  of conducting interviews with suspects, victims, witnesses, sources in order to determine facts regarding crime incidents.
35. Forensic Accounting
Involves the application of the study and interpretation of financial evidence in legal matters