NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

NECCS New Forensic Science Course

By Kyle Benson

There’s a new course in town. The Forensic Science course, aimed at Criminal Justice majors, started this past fall semester.

Criminal Justice coordinator Paul Cavan and Professor Mike Cross collaborated to create the class. They figured since Criminal Justice majors need to complete two lab science courses, the students might as well have a lab pertaining to their major other than anatomy and plant biology classes.

Cross, who teaches an array of chemistry courses and science labs, was willing to teach the course.

“I think it was just one of those things where, with my background as an organic chemist, I’m used to dealing with tiny quantities of things and being extremely accurate and precise with all my measurements. A lot of the techniques used in the forensic science lab are the same ones use in a chemistry or biochemistry lab,” said Cross.

“DNA, fingerprinting, all these different techniques are pretty much the same thing, it’s just applied to an actual crime scene rather than just a soil sample that you find on the street.”

The class teaches students to observe, collect, analyze and evaluate evidence found at crime scenes. It also goes over multiple other topics in modern criminal justice.

“Our first week of lab I had two people come up to me after class and start discussing the lab and we hadn’t even actually performed the lab yet, yet they are reading ahead and doing it. That doesn’t typically happen in a regular chemistry class so it’s nice to see so much excitement and enthusiasm and questions instead of just the passive student. I like it when people start to ask questions and they’re interested in finding out a little bit more,” Cross said.

Nathaniel Blair, a student taking the Forensic Science course this semester, said, “It’s a interesting subject. I’ve been interested in it for a while, that’s why I took the class. And also Mike is a very entertaining teacher.”

“The professor always manages to keep it interesting, with his various magic tricks,” said student Paul D’Eon.

Cross is a man of chemistry, forensics and magic, creating a class that is educational and fun for everyone.​