PLSCI 1150 - CSI: Forensic Botany

(BIOLS-AG) (CU-SBY)     
Spring. 3 credits. Student option grading (no audit).

W. Crepet.

Plant-based evidence has been an important component in solving crimes for centuries. Modern techniques and facilities have made plant evidence more important and useful than ever, and there are some stunning examples of trials where plant evidence played a critical roles in the outcomes. We will blend criminal cases and plant science in this course. We will review important cases that have involved and even depended upon significant plant-based evidence. Along the way, students will learn, at the introductory level, the plant science needed to appreciate the importance of plant-based evidence in crime solving. An overriding but intrinsic theme will be how the scientific method is useful and integral to applying logic to a body of plant-based evidence in specific cases.

Outcome 1: Evaluate the nature of plant-based evidence.

Outcome 2: Review court rulings on the admissibility of scientific and other expert testimony.

Outcome 3: Observe how plant-based evidence has been used in criminal trials including durability of plant organs in human digestive system.

Outcome 4: Apply logical analysis of plant-based evidence to crime solving.

Outcome 5: Describe techniques used to identify and evaluate plant-based evidence including light microscopy, electron microscopy, spectroscopy, CTScan technology, DNA analysis, and natural history.

Outcome 6: Identify and be able to names sources for "illegal" plants and their derivatives, including poisons.

Outcome 7: Master an appropriate range of knowledge on plant structure including morphology, wood anatomy, distribution, and soil types.

Outcome 8: Be able to communicate a broad knowledge of plant diversity/taxonomy.

Outcome 9: Explain plant reproductive biology, including life cycles, seasonality and correlated plant disseminules, including palynology (micromorphology, ultrastructure and taxonomic utility), fruits and seeds, leaves or leaf fragments, and including poisons.

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