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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Quinnipiac launches fingerprint analysis course

Quinnipiac University will be offering a three-credit course in fingerprint analysis in the spring 2024 semester to provide students with an overview about the science behind our fingerprints.

The class — which will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. — does not fulfill the University Curriculum Breadth electives. However, it does fulfill an elective requirement for the forensic science minor. There are no prerequisites and it is open to all students. 

“I love forensics,” said Jillian Clark, a sophomore molecular and cellular biology major. “Even if the minor wasn’t a thing, I definitely would have been interested in the class.”

The course’s curriculum will include the history and discovery of fingerprints, as well as fingerprint identification, comparison and recording techniques.

Jaime Ullinger, a professor of anthropology and the director of the anthropology program, created the forensic science minor and the new course’s curriculum with Lisa Kaplan, professor of biology, and Alan Bruce, director of the criminal justice program.

“The course will talk about how you testify in court as a forensic scientist, the procedures that are involved in maintaining the chain of custody, and will get into examples of how fingerprints become a larger issue in forensic science,” Ullinger said.

Clark enrolled in the class to fulfill her requirements for the forensic science minor.

“I want to learn more about the process itself,” Clark said. “I want to know what you use to do it, what circumstances you want to use (fingerprint analysis) and what circumstances you don’t want to use it.”

Clark, who took a forensics class in high school, said she looks forward to expanding her general knowledge of the subject to benefit her future profession.

“I want to go into forensic science, and even if I’m not going into fingerprinting it’s good to know about,” Clark said.

The course will consist of both hands-on experience and discussions about the implications of real-life applications of fingerprint analysis.

It is unclear if this course will be offered year-round — this will be determined by whether students are interested in enrolling in the course. There is one section available and the enrollment for the class of 20 students is currently filled.

The class will also discuss the FBI’s inaccurate identification in the case of the 2004 Madrid train bombing and the wrongful detention of Brandon Mayfield. Students, Ullinger said, will learn about the accuracy and reliability of fingerprints associated with the case.

Brandon Mayfield was wrongfully detained on the basis of a faulty fingerprint match. The FBI arrested Mayfield as a material witness in connection with the attacks and held him for two weeks before releasing him and issuing a public apology after the Spanish authorities identified another suspect.

“(Mayfield’s case) is important for highlighting the need to take care in utilizing a technique often portrayed in pop culture as infallible,” Bruce said. “In any forensic science course, it is important to emphasize the potential for error and the need to ensure techniques are used accurately and appropriately to reduce this potential and help ensure safe convictions.”

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