Forensic Science HQ

Investigate the forensic science world

Microscopy


A Microscopist is a forensic scientist who specializes in the analysis of hairs, fibers and debris. Most commonly, a microscopist will examine hairs and fibers to determine their possible origin.

When a hair is examined, the scientist is often asked to answer the following questions:

  • Is it human?
  • Is it scalp hair or pubic hair?
  • What is the race of the individual it originated from?
  • If it is not human, what species is it from?
  • Was the hair dyed or treated?
  • Is genetic material present for DNA testing?
Hair under a microscope

Microscopic view of a hair

Fibers are also commonly examined, with the goal of answering similar questions:

  • What type of fiber is it?
  • Is it man made or natural?
  • What kind of material is the fiber from? ¬†(Carpet, blanket, sweater, etc.)

In addition to hairs and fibers, the microscopist may be asked to examine such things as:

  • Building materials
  • Safe insulation
  • Wood
  • Soil and rock

Microscopy is a very labor intensive and lengthy process.  Forensic microscopists must be patient and enjoy looking in a microscope and working with very tiny materials.

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