UNL ‘crime scene house’ helps forensic science program stand out

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s new crime scene house allows students to get hands on experience through staged crime scenes.
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 6:35 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s new crime scene house allows students to get hands on experience through staged crime scenes. The department said they are the only forensic science program in the Midwest with a campus and program like this.

“If you look in this whole plains states area, you wont find an as broad spectrum, in-depth, science based program that also has this much hands on learning,” said Professor Barksdale. “We take it from the classroom to the field.”

Before the house, students in the crime scene investigation course would evaluate scenes in just a classroom, but the new location allows more dynamic and larger staged crime scenes.

“I could read this stuff in a textbook and definitely not understand as much as I do actually completing it and understand how it works in the real world,” said Kaitlyn Wiersma, a student in the class.

Professor Barksdale created a shallow grave months ago next to the crime scene lab. He buried items for students to find, like white powder, pieces of clothing and plastic bones. Students then use tools and protocol similar to what they will do in the field after graduation.

“It is about putting students into an environment that is as close to what a real crime scene will be,” said Director of the Forensic Science Department Michael Adamowicz.

This semester, students will work through eight crime scenes. They will look at bullet holes, uncover plastic bones, identifying bloody fingerprints and evaluating materials found on the scene. Students will continue to work at the crime scene house until October, when they move to the lab and analyze the materials they found. Next semester, many of the students will take the capstone class, which has them back at the house working on more crime scenes.