Forensic Chemistry: A Signature Academic Program

Program Details

Forensic chemistry deals with the application of chemistry to criminal investigation. In criminal cases, forensic scientists are often involved in the search for and examination of physical evidence that may become useful in establishing or excluding an association between someone suspected of committing a crime and the actual scene of the crime or victim. Such evidence might commonly include blood and other body fluids, hair, textile fibers, building materials (such as paint or glass), footwear, tools, tire marks and flammable substances used to start fires. Other forensic scientists might analyze suspected drugs of abuse, specimens from people thought to have taken these drugs, specimens from individuals thought to have been driving under the influence of alcohol or specimens from individuals thought to have been poisoned. Yet others specialize in firearms, explosives or documents with questionable authenticity. Forensic chemists are also involved in the investigation of crimes against society, such as food adulteration, environmental pollution, use and distribution of unsafe chemicals and dangerous working conditions. This major is recommended for individuals who wish to pursue a career in the laboratory analysis of forensic evidence, or who wish to pursue graduate study in forensic science.

Due to the nature of forensic investigations, the forensic chemist requires a strong background in chemical analysis and must be able to effectively communicate the results of laboratory analyses in reports and in the courtroom. The curriculum is designed so that the major provides a strong theoretical and experimental background in chemistry, as well as a strong focus on written and oral communication skills.

Integrated Baccalaureate and Master’s Degree Program

The Integrated Baccalaureate and Master of Science in Chemistry provides an opportunity for outstanding undergraduate chemistry majors to complete both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in chemistry in a single five-year period.

View detailed integrated degree requirements for chemistry.

Special Opportunities in Forensic Chemistry

The department offers small classes with accessible faculty and personalized advising in Currens Hall. There are three electronic classrooms and numerous teaching/research laboratories, as well as a Physical Sciences Library that subscribes to more than 60 journals and online literature searching through the Chemical Abstract Service. Undergraduates have access to the department’s state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, which are augmented by the existence of a graduate program. The modern instrumentation available for teaching and research includes a FPLC, HPLC, FT-NMR, FT-IR, UV-Vis and GC-MS spectrometers; a capillary electrophoresis and a high-speed centrifuge.

There are many opportunities for students to work with WIU chemistry faculty on research projects that involve inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, medicinal chemistry, forensic chemistry, analytical chemistry and environmental chemistry. In addition, there are research opportunities for students in physical and food chemistry, as well as with many other projects. Undergraduate students involved in research get to travel to professional conferences, meet professionals from around the country and serve as coauthors on journal article publications.

For students interested in chemistry, the department offers the Chemistry Club, an association affiliated with the American Chemical Society.

Department Minors

  • Chemistry
  • Forensic Chemistry
  • Forensic Science

Additional Resources

forensic chemistry lab

WIU offers hands-on experience in forensic chemistry labs to help prepare you for your career.

Possible Forensic Chemistry Career Paths

The forensic chemistry major will prepare students to work in modern crime laboratories at the local, regional, state or federal levels. These graduates can also work for other law enforcement agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The program also prepares students to work for private industries in their analytical, environmental, chemical synthesis or toxicology laboratories. In addition, the program provides training to students to pursue graduate work in chemistry, forensic chemistry, forensic sciences, environmental sciences, industrial hygiene, medical chemistry or toxicology.

Chemistry (CHEM) Courses

Please refer to the undergraduate catalog for detailed program information and course requirements.

100 Introduction to Chemistry. (3) For those students who have completed less than the equivalent of one year of high school Chemistry. Introduces the fundamental concepts of Chemistry including matter, atomic structure and periodicity, stoichiometry, some descriptive Chemistry. Prerequisites: one year high school algebra or MATH 099N. 3 hrs. lect.

101 Principles of Chemistry I. (4) (General Education/Natural Sciences) A survey for students who do not plan to take Chemistry beyond the 100 level. Application of the general principles of inorganic and organic chemistry to biological, environmental, and applied sciences. Prerequisites: one year of high school algebra or MATH 099N, and either one year of high school Chemistry or CHEM 100. 3 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.
IAI: P1 902L.

102 Principles of Chemistry II. (4) (General Education/Natural Sciences) A continuation of CHEM 101. Prerequisite: CHEM 101. 3 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.

150 Contemporary Chemistry. (4) (General Education/Natural Sciences) A course intended to inform the student of the role of science in modern society. Lectures treat the fundamentals of chemical composition, the impact of industrial products on the environment, energy, and drugs; and the importance of consumer information. 3 hrs. lect.; 2 hrs. lab.
IAI: P1 903L.

190 Introduction to Chemistry Research. (1–4, repeatable to 4) Introduction to chemistry research, which may include introduction to laboratory experimental design, scientific writing, and ethical issues of chemical research and reporting. Prerequisite: special permission from the department.

201 General Chemistry I. (4) (General Education/ Natural Sciences) Designed for science and preengineering majors. Fundamental physicochemical principles and quantitative relationships including the mole concept, periodic properties of the elements, atomic structure, chemical bonding, and thermochemistry. Laboratory emphasizes quantitative analysis. Prerequisites: MATH 100 and either one year of high school Chemistry or CHEM 100. Corequisite: either MATH 101, 102, 123, or 128, or math course requiring one of these as a prerequisite. 3 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.
IAI: CHM 911.

202 General Chemistry II. (4) (General Education/ Natural Sciences) A continuation of CHEM 201. Includes a study of solutions, acids and bases, equilibria, electrochemistry, and chemistry of the main group elements and the transition elements. Laboratory emphasizes qualitative analysis, quantitative measurements, and syntheses. Prerequisite: CHEM 201. 3 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.
IAI: CHM 912.

221 Elementary Biochemistry. (4) An elementary course intended to teach the structure, properties, function, and metabolism of biological molecules with emphasis on macromolecules. Intended for Biology and Family and Consumer Sciences majors. Prerequisite: CHEM 102. 3 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.

241 Chemical Calculations. (2) Designed primarily for Chemistry majors and minors. Emphasis is given to methods of presenting data and performing detailed chemical calculations typically required in biochemical and pharmaceutical analysis. Prerequisite: CHEM 201. Prerequisite or Corequisite: CHEM 202. 2 hrs. lect.

251 Introduction to Forensic Applications. (3) Designed primarily for Forensic Chemistry majors and minors. Introduction to forensic chemistry with emphasis placed on the forensic applications of chemical techniques. Lab demonstrates the applications of forensic chemical analysis. Does not count toward the Chemistry minor. Prerequisite: CHEM 201. Prerequisite or Corequisite: CHEM 202.

263 Introduction to Pharmacology. (3) This course introduces the students to the basic concepts of pharmacology and the major categories of pharmacologic agents, and explores the myths and facts about vitamins, nutritional supplements, and common herbal medicines. Prerequisites: either BIOL 101 or ZOOL 200 or ZOOL 330; and either CHEM 102 or CHEM 330.

264 Pharmacy Methods. (3) This course is designed as an aid for students who plan a career in Pharmacy. The course describes methods used in Pharmacy, including receiving and processing prescriptions, drug calculations, dosage and formulations, Pharmacy law, and inventory control. Prerequisite: CHEM 263 or permission of the instructor.

330 Elements of Organic Chemistry. (5) A onesemester introduction to organic chemistry. Coverage includes nomenclature of compounds, study of selected reactions and mechanisms, spectroscopy and study of biologically relevant molecules such as carbohydrates, amino acids, and proteins. Does not count toward Chemistry major. Prerequisite: CHEM 202 (C grade or better). 4 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.

331 Organic Chemistry I. (5) A study of nomenclature, preparations, reactions, and reaction mechanisms of the functional groups of aliphatic and aromatic compounds. Prerequisite: CHEM 202 (C grade or better). 4 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.
IAI: CHM 913.

332 Organic Chemistry II. (4) Further study of organic chemistry including spectroscopic methods. Laboratory includes synthetic methods, mechanistic studies, chromatography, and an introduction to qualitative analysis. Prerequisite: CHEM 331 or CHEM 330 (C grade or better). 3 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.
IAI: CHM 914.

333 Advanced Organic Laboratory. (1) Designed to supplement the laboratory portion of CHEM 332. Prerequisite: concurrent registration or credit in CHEM 332. 3 hrs. lab.

341 Analytical Techniques. (3) An extension of the fundamental techniques used in CHEM 201 and 202 with emphasis on the analytical process, methods of separation, and methods of measurement. Prerequisite: CHEM 202 (C grade or better); CHEM 241 or permission of instructor. 2 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.

342 Fundamentals of Environmental Chemistry. (4) (Global Issues) An examination of the chemistry of the geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere with emphasis on the interactions between them and the impact of technology upon the natural environment. Prerequisite: CHEM 102 or 202. 3 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.

351 (Formerly CHEM 451) Applications of Forensic Chemistry. (4) Applications of physio-chemical principles to analysis of physical evidence from criminal investigations, including seized drugs, explosive residues, arson debris, hairs, fibers, glass, paint, papers, inks, and soil. Cannot be applied toward the Chemistry minor. Prerequisites: CHEM 251, 332, 341, or consent of instructor. 3 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.

363 Rational Drug Design. (3) The course emphasizes the process of drug development, identification of drug targets, and their introduction into clinical practice. Basic principles of target identification and validation, chemical libraries and screening, receptor mechanisms and receptor targeting, ligand-based drug design are discussed. Prerequisite: CHEM 332.

370 Elementary Physical Chemistry. (4) Designed primarily for students who wish an introduction to physical chemistry and its biological applications. Prerequisite: CHEM 202. 3 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.

374 Physical Chemistry – Thermodynamics and Kinetics. (4) A rigorous treatment of physical chemistry useful for chemists, biologists, engineers, Earth scientists, and medical scientists. The topics include thermodynamics and kinetics. Prerequisite: CHEM 202, one year of Physics, and one year of calculus. 3 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.

375 Physical Chemistry – Quantum Mechanics and Spectroscopy. (4) A rigorous treatment of physical chemistry useful for chemists, biologists, engineers, Earth scientists, and medical scientists. The topics include quantum mechanics and spectroscopy. Prerequisite: CHEM 202, one year of Physics, and one year of calculus. 3 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.

390 Junior Project Laboratory. (1–2, repeatable for different projects to 2) Enrollment only with permission of department.

401 Inorganic Chemistry. (4) Chemistry of transition elements and nontransition elements and their compounds; nomenclature, stereochemistry, symmetry, bonding, solids, and acid-base theories. Laboratory involves synthesis and physicochemical measurements of selected compounds. Writing Instruction in the Disciplines (WID) course. Prerequisites: CHEM 332 and CHEM 370 or 374. 3 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.

416 Chemical Literature. (1) An introduction to searching chemical research literature. Prerequisite: 18 s.h. of Chemistry. 1 hr. lect.

421 Biochemistry. (4) The chemistry of major cellular constituents and their metabolism. Prerequisite: CHEM 330 or 332; CHEM 241 or BIOL 330 or permission of instructor. 3 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.

422 Advanced Biochemistry. (4) A continuation of CHEM 421 emphasizing the regulation of biosynthetic pathways and gene expression. Laboratory includes analysis of biological molecules by GC, HPLC, UV spectroscopy, and electrophoresis. Writing Instruction in the Disciplines (WID) course. Prerequisites: BIOL 330 and CHEM 421. 3 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.

425 Biochemistry of Human Disease. (4) Biochemical aspects of human diseases with emphasis on cancer and genetic disorders. The course focuses on biochemical principles of disease development and contemporary biochemistry and molecular biology methods and approaches for drug development and cancer treatments. Prerequisites: BIOL 330 and CHEM 421. 3 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.

429 Biochemistry Topics. (2) Selected topics in biochemistry which include current topics in applications of bio-macromolecules. Cannot be applied toward the Chemistry minor. Prerequisite: CHEM 221 or 421 or permission of instructor. 2 hrs. lect.

440 Elementary Forensic Techniques. (4) Applications of chemical principles to analysis of crime scene physical evidence including serology, drugs, explosive residues, arson debris, papers and inks, paint, and DNA fingerprinting. State-of-the-art techniques and instrumentation are used. Prerequisite: CHEM 221 or 330 or permission of instructor. 3 hrs.; lect.; 3 hrs. lab.

442 Analytical Chemistry. (4) Theory and practice of analytical chemistry with emphasis on selected instrumental techniques. Prerequisite: CHEM 341 and one semester of Physical Chemistry. 3 hrs. lect.; 6 hrs. lab.

452 Forensic Toxicology. (4) Designed primarily for Forensic Chemistry majors. Applications of pharmacological, toxicological, and instrumental methods used in forensic investigations of death, poisoning, and drug use. Cannot be applied toward the Chemistry minor. Prerequisite: CHEM 332 and 341. 3 hrs. lect.; 3 hrs. lab.

455 Forensic Serology and DNA Analysis. (4) Applications of biochemical principles to analysis of human tissues, body fluids, and other biological forensic evidence. Topics will include serology, blood splatter evidence screening methods, and DNA analysis and interpretation. Does not count toward the Chemistry minor. Prerequisite: CHEM 421.

485 Internship in Chemistry. (3–8, repeatable to maximum of 8) An on-the-job experience in a government or industrial laboratory. To familiarize students with working environments—laboratory procedures and instrumentation they will encounter in a job situation. A formal written report is required. Prerequisites: CHEM 332, 370 or 375, 442, junior or senior standing in Chemistry, or permission of department chairperson. Graded S/U only.

490 Senior Project Laboratory. (1–4, repeatable to 4) Laboratory research under the direction of a Chemistry faculty member. The work will include the use of the chemical literature in independent research programs. A formal written report of the investigation undertaken is required. Corequisite or Prerequisite: CHEM 492. Prerequisite: one semester of Physical Chemistry or permission of the department.

491 Honors Thesis in Chemistry. (1–2, repeatable to 2) A thesis prepared under the direction of one or more faculty members.

492 Safety Practices in Chemistry Research. (1) The course is designed to train students in safety techniques and practices commonly used in laboratory research. A combination of lecture and demonstrations are used to describe MSDS, PPE, federal regulations, safe handling of hazardous reagents, and isotopes. Prerequisite: CHEM 101 or 201 or permission of instructor.


239 Pre-Teacher Education Program Admittance. (0, repeatable with no maximum) Students pursuing teacher licensure are required to take this course in the semester they plan to be fully accepted in the Teacher Education Program (TEP). Students must meet established departmental criteria for admittance to TEP. Graded S/U.

339 Pre-Student Teaching Clearance. (0) Students pursuing teacher licensure are required to take this course prior to their student teaching semester. Students must meet established criteria for departmental clearance to student teach. Prerequisites: Full admittance to the Teacher Education (TEP). Graded S/U.

439 Methods of Teaching Secondary Science. (3) Study of secondary teaching methods (Grades 6–12) from the standpoints of theory and practice, curriculum objectives and standard implementation, materials, and evaluation and assessment. Included are demonstrations, discussions, lectures, classroom participation, and field observations. Prerequisites: BIOL/GEOL 181 or GEOG/PHYS 182, BIOL 281, and EIS 301 (all with C grade or better). Corequisite: EIS 303.

469 Pre-Licensure Clearance. (0) Students pursuing teacher licensure are required to take this course in the semester they student teach. Students must meet criteria established by the department in order to be recommended for licensure. Prerequisite: departmental clearance to student teach. Corequisite: Student Teaching (STCH). Graded S/U.

480 Student Teaching. See STCH 480.

482 (Cross-listed with BIOL 482 and PHYS 482) Science in Context. (3) Interdisciplinary course for science majors in which students explore science through inquiry, the unifying principles of science, and the role of social contexts and ethics in science. Writing Instruction in the Disciplines (WID) course. Not open to students with credit in BIOL 482 or PHYS 482. Prerequisites: senior standing in one of the following science majors—Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology, or Meteorology; ENG 280; or permission of instructor.

Contact Information

Department of Chemistry

Dr. Rose McConnell, Chairperson
Location: Currens Hall 214
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455-1390
Phone: (309) 298-1538

Chemistry Website

Chemistry Directory

College of Arts & Sciences (CAS)

Dr. Susan Martinelli-Fernandez, Dean
CAS Email:
Location: Morgan Hall 114
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455-1390
Phone: (309) 298-1828

CAS Website

Forensic Chemistry Advising

Jennifer Sandrik-Rubio
Currens Hall 303
Phone: (309) 298-3620

Currens Hall