Survey of Forensic Sciences
Survey of Forensic Sciences

Survey of Forensic Sciences

Lead Author(s): Adrienne Brundage

Student Price: Contact us to learn more

A general overview of the forensics sciences, the application of sciences to the crime scene, and guest chapters from experts in various fields.

About This Book

Welcome to your online textbook! I wrote this textbook with the goal of giving you up-to-date information on as many aspects of forensic science as possible. I will be adding information to this book as it comes out in the literature. 

But first, a warning: this book contains subject matter, photos, and videos that cover subjects some may consider delicate. Be advised that you will be seeing pictures of dead humans and animals, and reading about decomposition, bodily injury, methods of death, and other unfortunate subjects. You will find people don't appreciate you looking at these photos or talking about this subject while at dinner or in other situations. Be ready for some funny looks! 

If you'd like to see a particular subject covered in the book, just ask! In fact, fill out this form and I'll do my best to add that information. 

How to use this book

Now, onto how to use this book! I've tried to use this book to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to background information. You will find lots of basic info in each chapter--if you know the information already, go a head and skip it. If you need a review of it, that's what it's there for. 

Feel free to print anything you wish from this book. I decided to put this online instead of printing it so that it would be much cheaper for you, but I know that some people prefer to read on paper. Do what you need to do!

Set Up

The information in this book is grouped together by subject, and is in the approximate order that we'll be going over these subjects in class. You will need to read the assigned chapter before coming to class. 

Chapter quizzes

Each chapter and/or section I assign will come with several questions to answer. These are your chapter quizzes and need to be finished the Sunday before class. You will see these same questions (along with others) on your weekly quizzes and on the exams, so take note! These quizzes are also a part of your overall grade. 


 Throughout the chapters, you will see small numbers that look like this: 1. These are footnotes. If you click on the number, it will take you to the footnotes section. Go now 2! I've done my best to make the footnotes easy to navigate. I'll let you know if anything changes. 


Each chapter will have a list of references at the end, and in-line citations throughout. The inline citations look like this: (Brundage 2017). This is the last name of the first author of the reference, along with the year the reference was published. If you want to see the full reference, go to the references section where you will see a list of full references in alphabetical order. Brundage 2017 refers to this reference: 

Brundage, Adrienne L., et al. "Interkingdom cues by bacteria associated with conspecific and heterospecific eggs of Cochliomyia macellaria and Chrysomya rufifacies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) potentially govern succession on carrion."Annals of the Entomological Society of America110.1 (2017): 73-82.

You can use the university library to find the full paper if you are interested. 


Where appropriate, I have added videos to the chapters that explain or illustrate a concept. The videos should play when you click on them. If a video link is broken, please let me know! 

Section Info

Throughout each chapter, you will see section borders. There are three types of borders: 

These borders indicate a case study. I have added cases from my own work, historical cases, and cases that I've read about in the literature to help you understand how a particular technique works in the real world 2.  Once you get to the "End Case Study" border, that means story time is over and it's on to the rest of the chapter. 

These borders indicate a definition. I will do this when there is a word or concept that I'm going to be talking about, and I want to make sure you know the definition. If you are already clear on the definition, you can skip this bit! 

A "foundational principle" is a basic concept, theory, law, or other bit of information that you need to understand in order to get the forensics technique I'm explaining. These principles are important--if you think you know them, just double check the section. This is how I'm making sure everyone is on the same page, and I will be referring to the foundational principle throughout the rest of the book. Make sure you understand it!


I have linked to outside web pages and documents throughout this book. If you see a blue underlined section like this: "This is what a link looks like!" then you might want to click on it. Sometimes it's a database or other resource that you need to have. Other times it's just something that I think is neat. Now you know. 

Further Reading and Fun Stuff

At the very end of this book you will find a page that has a bunch of books and things listed. These are links to books I mention throughout the text, books I think you would like, and links to fun or useful forensic science things. I will keep this list updated as much as possible, so check back often! 

Any Questions? 

Well, there we go! Now you know the different parts of this book, and what to expect. It's time to get reading! If you have any questions feel free to ask. If you have any suggestions for the book, just click the link at the top of this page and I will get your input. Enjoy! 


Brundage, Adrienne L., et al. "Interkingdom cues by bacteria associated with conspecific and heterospecific eggs ofCochliomyia macellaria and Chrysomya rufifacies(Diptera: Calliphoridae) potentially govern succession on carrion."Annals of the Entomological Society of America 110.1 (2017): 73-82.


1 Hey, you found the footnotes section! I will put footnotes in places where I think of something that I want you to know, but it doesn't flow in the paragraph. Sometimes I'll put new information or facts here; other times it'll just be a story I want to tell you or something to make me laugh. Writing a book is a long process, and I went a bit stir crazy. When you're done with the footnote, just click the "back" link at the end. It will take you back to the top of the section you were reading. (Back)

Section Info

2 ...and, let's be honest, because I like telling you gross stories. Be prepared! (Back)