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AUS students learn the science behind the crime
A new generation of forensic investigators is being cultivated at American University of Sharjah (AUS) through the university’s Forensic Chemistry course. AUS students majoring in biology, chemistry, environmental sciences and chemical engineering are able to take part in the course, learning how to identify and analyze forensic evidence in criminal and environmental cases.
Students of the course, such as Rida Arshad, are preparing for future careers in the field of forensics, coming to understand the various types of physical evidence encountered at a crime scene, and how that evidence is treated by law enforcement and forensic experts. The course forms a solid basis for students who wish to become toxicologists, detectives, lawyers or a host of other jobs. Rida says:
“I want to pursue forensic medicine in the future, so this course is the first stepping-stone toward me reaching my goal. The study of forensics has always piqued my interest. Starting at a very young age, I was drawn towards TV shows like CSI, so when I heard this course was being offered, I jumped at the opportunity.”
The course has a strong practical focus, aligning with the directive of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates, Ruler of Sharjah and President of AUS, to integrate the academic learning process with the practical experience of the market. As well as lectures from AUS faculty, students attend a series of seminars delivered by external experts including Sharjah Police DNA expert Salim Obaid Alkhayyal, forensic chemistry expert Dr. Taj El-Sir Ahmed and forensic toxicology expert Dr. Fuad Tarbah. Field trips to the forensic laboratories of Sharjah and Dubai police are also an important part of the curriculum. Student Roa Daher says:
“As part of the course, we visited the Sharjah Police forensic labs where we had the chance to interact with the forensic scientists who work there. It was a very interesting experience because we were able to get a more practical feel for the subject, and we were able to ask about the kind of work that is done in the labs, discussing several real-life cases. I would recommend others to take forensic chemistry because it is a very enjoyable course where you learn a lot of intriguing information about a wide array of topics. It is a perfect mix of theoretical and practical work.”
The course has the support of both the Sharjah and Dubai police. In addition to offering forensic experts for seminars, the police departments also offer internship opportunities for AUS’ forensic chemistry students, and several AUS graduates now work in the Dubai Forensics Science and Criminology Department. AUS students also undertake research at Dubai Police’s Forensic Laboratory, including current student Abdullah AlNukhatha:
“My research with the Dubai Police has helped me prepare samples, and analyze them to identify chemicals present. The experience I am having is amazing. I learn things on a daily basis, such as sample storage, technical procedures, controls and more. I am not surprised by how much I have learned given the high caliber of Dubai Police’s laboratory. I believe this course will be helpful for my career as I want to pursue a master’s in forensic science.”
Students who have completed the course have gone on to forensics-related graduate programs at top universities in the United Kingdom, including the University of Surrey, University of Essex and Queen Mary University of London.