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"CSI" sparks interest in forensic science; new concentration in the works

October 7, 2003

Whats the hottest thing on college campuses this semester? Chemistry classes, thanks to the popularity of top-rated TV shows CSI and CSI: Miami. Some universities are even developing forensic science majors and minors as a result of student demand.

Dr. Robin Reed, assistant professor and chair of the chemistry department at Austin Peay, says his department has seen a great influx of interest in forensic science as a result of what he calls the CSI phenomenon.
October 7, 2003

What's the hottest thing on college campuses this semester? Chemistry classes, thanks to the popularity of top-rated TV shows “CSI” and “CSI: Miami.” Some universities are even developing forensic science majors and minors as a result of student demand.

Dr. Robin Reed, assistant professor and chair of the chemistry department at Austin Peay, says his department has seen a “great influx of interest” in forensic science as a result of what he calls the “CSI phenomenon.”

According to a recent Associated Press article, several universities are reporting waiting lists for forensic science courses, and “dozens of others” are creating forensic courses and degree programs as a result of the interest sparked by the TV shows “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “CSI: Miami.”

Reed says, “We currently bring forensics into the analytical chemistry classes, biochemistry classes and general chemistry classes as we attempt to show relevance of chemistry to everyday applications. Several lab classes are implementing specific experiments to tie in with the forensics theme.”

For example, last year APSU biochemistry students performed an analysis of DNA samples to match suspects with a DNA sample taken from a crime scene.

In addition, Reed says as a result of student interest in “CSI,” his department is planning to add a forensic chemistry concentration to the chemistry degree program.

Gerald Beavers, executive director of APSU's Center @ Fort Campbell, believes “the degree will be popular, either because of or in conjunction with the popularity of the ‘CSI' series.” He adds that he would like to see a collaboration between the forensics concentration in chemistry and either the police science or public management programs.

“It seems that either public management criminal justice courses or police science courses, particularly in the area of law, would fit nicely with the proposed new program,” Beavers says.

Reed adds, “We are also investigating the possibility of involving the TBI [Tennessee Bureau of Investigation] in either the teaching of some of this concentration or the offering of an internship program for our students.”
--Rebecca Mackey