Hamline News

A New Professor Brings New Gear to Forensic Science


Jamie Spaulding arrived at Hamline University in August 2020 as an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Forensic Science. He spent his first year sharing his expertise in forensic and investigative science in the classrooms of Drew Science Center and updating the equipment available to students.

In their final forensic science lab class of the spring 2021 semester, Elizabeth Schiele ’21, a criminal justice major, and Hailey Belflower ’21, a biology major with a forensic science minor, benefitted from his purchases. The photo above shows the two as they searched for biological evidence using alternate light source flashlights. These lights emit light at different wavelengths. Depending on the wavelength of light selected by the user, physiological evidence may fluoresce, reflect, or even disappear and these reactions allow it to be identified. Belflower also made a cast of a shoe print, and Schiele analyzed the trajectory of a bullet. Throughout the lab period, Spaulding discussed the inferences the students could make based on the evidence presented.

New gear for forensic science students

In addition to the lights Schiele and Belflower used during their lab, Spaulding upgraded the capabilities of the department by purchasing a new computer and new cameras, including an infrared camera that can detect differences in temperature.

“In forensic work, an infrared camera can help investigators to detect, visualize, and identify evidence without destroying anything,” said Spaulding.

A new eye-tracking system and software will help evaluate students’ evidence recognition abilities. Spaulding also added new fingerprint development supplies, an advanced bullet trajectory kit and firearms examination equipment to the lab.

“The new equipment will strengthen students’ ability to interpret forensic pattern evidence, and the computers are important for learning about forensic intelligence modeling and researching algorithmic methods for interpreting forensic evidence,” said Spaulding.

An appreciation of research and practical learning

Spaulding came to Hamline having developed two published open source software packages for crime analysis and investigative applications. He has a strong research background in statistically modeling links between crimes in a given area (including a recent publication), profiling geographic areas for the purpose of predicting crime, the value of fingerprint evidence, and the error rates associated with combined analytical tests.

“When I visited Hamline, I was excited by the research other faculty in the department were conducting, the sense of community, student involvement, and most notably, the departmental connections to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension,” said Spaulding. “Having practicing scientists train and share their experience with students is invaluable and creates the best practical learning environment for students.”

A career-ready approach to teaching

For the fall 2021 semester, Spaulding has developed two new classes: Forensic Fingerprint Examination and Latent Fingerprints.

“We will discuss the scientific foundations of fingerprint examination, develop fingerprints on a variety of surfaces, and perform mock casework according to international standards of practice,” said Spaulding. “These courses will directly prepare students to excel in the forensic community.”

Written by staff