Salmon farm helping train the next generation of crime scene investigators

hammer
A fourth-year student demonstrates bloodstain pattern analysis with a hammer at the University of Windsor on March 21, 2014. From the Windsor Star, March 25, 2014.

It’s a small connection, but a fascinating one.

Blood from a Chinook salmon farm off Quadra Island is being used in the world-class Forensic Sciences program at the University of Windsor, Ontario.

The salmon blood is used to create blood stains on a T-shirt, and the second-year students are challenged to solve a “whodunnit.”

We use fish blood to create realistic blood stains on clothing and challenge the students to use DNA analyses to clear or implicate suspects.Safety concerns are minimized through the use of fish blood, while maximizing both realism and the likelihood of student success due to fishes’ nucleated red blood cells.

The goal in designing this laboratory exercise was to create a feasible protocol for large (over 300 students) second year university courses.

During two 3 hour laboratory sessions, students learn and apply clean/sterile technique, DNA extraction, polymerase chain reaction, restriction fragment length polymorphisms, and agarose gel electrophoresis. The students also learn to interpret the resulting gel bands in terms of inclusive or exclusive evidence.

Students have consistently ranked this lab as their favorite of five taken as part of a second year Genetics course.

Sounds like fun, and makes us wanna go back to school.

Here’s a published paper about the salmon blood experiment, and how it worked out.

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