Forensic Chemistry

Use Science to Solve Crimes

Are you ready to try your hand at forensic analysis with CSI-like lab challenges? Do you have a mind for puzzles and a desire to shape the world of justice? Keuka College’s forensic chemistry minor offers an ideal opportunity if you’re interested in criminal investigation and the use of science to solve crimes.

Minor Overview

This minor goes well with the criminology and criminal justice program, as well as other science majors, including biology. Specifically, you’ll have the opportunity to study general, organic, and analytical chemistry, in addition to criminal justice and criminal investigation.

Add in criminal justice classes to round out the minor, and soon you’ll be set to document and analyze everything at a crime scene from gun powder residue to hair follicles.

See Minor Requirements

Learn More About Forensic Chemistry

As an undergraduate student, you’ll have unparalleled opportunities to conduct hands-on research. You’ll also have direct access to equipment that’s usually only available to graduate students at large research universities.

Students have conducted research projects in Kenya, studied in cancer labs, and much more. Our natural science students often present their work at regional and national scientific meetings, and some have even partnered with faculty to publish scientific papers.

The Jephson Science Center is one of the College’s most recently-renovated buildings. A highlight of the center is that the laboratories weren’t simply designed by architects, but by the professors who use and teach in them. That means the labs you’ll use at Keuka College mimic real-world laboratories, and include much of the same equipment.

Research in chemistry often involves determining the chemical components of a solution and finding how much is there, especially when analyzing a crime scene for evidence. The equipment in our laboratory includes four different Perkin-Elmer machines typically found at large research universities, including:

High-Pressure Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC)

The HPLC is used to separate, identify, and quantify each component in a mixture. It carries liquids from glass bottles through thin plastic tubes, passing through several compartments containing an oven, vacuum pump, solution tray, and detectors for analysis.

Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS)

The GC/MS separates mixtures into individual components and identifies separate fragments so you can determine what the molecules are. The GC/MS features a rotating unit that can extract samples from a tray of up to 108 small vials at one time, conducting analysis as programmed by a small touch screen at the side. 

Connected to the CG/MS is a computer running high-performance software that converts the data readings of molecular ions into a bevy of colorful charts and graphs. Based on the peaks and plunges of a fragment’s chart, the computer searches a large digital library to find the closest match–all in a matter of seconds.

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR)

The FTIR contains an oval plate with a small diamond reflective element through which infrared light can pass. Connected to another computer running high-speed software, the FTIR is able to provide information about the identity of liquid or solid compounds.

Lamnda-35 Ultraviolet Spectrometer

The UV spectrometer uses visible and ultraviolet light to determine the absorption spectrum of a solution, which will show how much light it absorbs across a range of wavelengths. This information is then used to determine the concentration of particular chemical components.

At Keuka College, you’re able to work with published, world-class scientists every day. Here, your professors are eager to teach, work on research projects with you, and share their knowledge. All of Keuka College’s natural science professors hold doctoral degrees from top-tier institutions, including Yale and MIT.

Your criminology and criminal justice professors include those who have been published in the Wiley Handbook of Law and SocietyThe Journal of Law, Politics, and Society, and Law and Order. While at Keuka College, you will learn the inside secrets of forensic investigation from former police officers, crime scene technicians, and undercover narcotics officers.

Dr. Catherine Abbott

Professor of Mathematics

Academic Credentials

University of North Texas
Ph.D.
University of North Texas
M.A.
University of Texas at Tyler
B.S.

Dr. Todd Anderson

Assistant Professor of Environmental Science

Academic Credentials

Cornell University
Ph.D.
University of Idaho
M.S. in Environmental Science
University of Alaska Southeast
B.S. in Environmental Science

Dr. Laurel Hester

Assistant Provost
Associate Professor of Biology

Academic Credentials

University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Ph.D. in Biology
University of Michigan Ann Arbor
M.S. in Biology
Swarthmore College
B.A. in Biology and History

Biography

Dr. Laurel Hester is the Assistant Provost and an Associate Professor of Biology at Keuka College. She has a B.A. in Biology and History from Swarthmore College where she fell in love with the small college learning environment with its supportive atmosphere and close student-faculty interactions. Dr. Hester has an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. She is a co-author for a Biological Science Study Guide and has other publications related to teaching biology. She enjoys travel and studied rodents in agricultural areas as a Fulbright Scholar in Senegal. She has also lived abroad in France and South Africa.

Professional Interests

Biology, scholarship of teaching and learning, and vertebrate physiological ecology.

Jessica Katolik

Instructor of Natural Sciences

Academic Credentials

University of Rochester
M.S. in Pharmacology and Physiology
Rochester Institute of Technology
B.S. in Biotechnology

Dr. Michael Keck

Interim Chair of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Professor of Chemistry

Academic Credentials

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ph.D.
University of California at Berkeley
B.S.

Biography

Dr. Keck joined the faculty at Keuka College in 2008 after 13 years teaching at Emporia State University (Kansas). He teaches chemistry and biochemistry, and has also taught analytical chemistry and inorganic chemistry. His primary area of expertise is nucleic acids biochemistry. He loves teaching, and he is also eager to work with students on research projects. He and his students are presently collaborating with colleagues at RIT to design and evaluate compounds that have potential as photodynamic therapy agents.

Dr. Luciana Parent

Assistant Professor of Biology

Academic Credentials

University of Sao Paulo/Cornell University (Sandwich Program)
Ph.D.
Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)
M.S.
Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)
B.S.

Dr. Andrew Robak

Professor of Chemistry

Academic Credentials

University of Oregon
Ph.D.
University of Oregon
M.S. in Chemistry
Rochester Institute of Technology
B.S. in Environmental Chemistry

Biography

Dr. Robak started teaching at Keuka College in the Fall of 2007 and is the primary instructor for organic chemistry at Keuka.

He is the adviser for Keuka's chemistry club and also directs a number of undergraduate research projects. Active research projects include: Exploring click chemistry for organic synthesis, developing new surfboard coatings from polyurethanes, designing chemistry experiments for home-schooled children at the high school level and a project using chemistry and photography to promote both art and science.

Other research interests are: designing more environmentally friendly lab experiments

Professional Interests

chemistry, organic chemistry, science based medicine, green chemistry, science in popular culture, science as art, polymers/plastics, science education, explosive chemistry demonstrations, inorganic chemistry

Dr. Tim Sellers

Associate Provost
Professor of Biology and Environmental Science
Director of the Center for Aquatic Research

Academic Credentials

University of Louisville
Ph.D. in Environmental Biology
University of Louisville
M.S. in Biology
University of Colorado Boulder
B.A. in Environmental Science

Biography

Dr. Tim Sellers is the Associate Provost and Professor of Biology and Environmental Science at Keuka College. He is the founder and director of the Center for Aquatic Research at Keuka College and the head science advisor for the Keuka Lake Association. Dr. Sellers has a B.A. in Environmental Science from the University of Colorado, an M.S. in Biology and a Ph.D. in Environmental Biology from the University of Louisville, and was a post-doctoral fellow in Oceanography at Texas A&M University. He has conducted aquatic and water quality research on Keuka Lake and the other Finger Lakes for 15 years.

Professional Interests

Limnology, oceanography, ecology

Dr. Mark Sugalski

Division Chair of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Professor of Biology

Academic Credentials

Miami University
Ph.D. in Zoology
Miami University
M.S. in Zoology
Roger Williams University
B.S. in Biology/Environmental Chemistry

Contact Information

Dr. Michael Keck

Interim Chair of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Professor of Chemistry

(315) 279-5267
mkeck@keuka.edu