Timothy Palmbach, J.D.-M.S
Chair and Associate Professor
Tim Palmbach is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Forensic Science Department. In addition he is a Fellow and Instructor in the Henry Lee Institute of Forensic Science. He served 22 years with the Connecticut Department of Public Safety, retiring as a Major in charge of the Division of Scientific Services. His research interests involve the applications and development of new technologies for crime scene analysis, and he is actively engaged in criminal cases throughout the United States as an expert witness in the area of crime scene reconstruction. We sat down with Timothy Palmbach and learned what he is doing inside and outside of the classroom.
What do you enjoy most about teaching here at the University of New Haven?
Before returning to UNH as a faculty member three and a half years ago I was the Director of the Connecticut State Forensic Science Lab. When I was approached to return to UNH I did so because I wanted to impact students in Forensic Science. I wanted to move into the mentor phase of my career. I felt that this opportunity would be the best capacity to help students with this field. I enjoy having the ability to take bright energetic students and create positive future leaders in the forensic field. We create leaders in the field of Forensic Science here at UNH. We have an excellent track record of playing a positive role in this development. UNH is the ivy league of Forensic Science education.
What are the strengths of your department?
The strength of the forensic science department is that it is a comprehensive program supported by world-class faculty. The norm or basic model is a science program growing out of a biology or chemistry department with a supplement of forensic science. Yet here we were never designed that way. We have highly experienced faculty who can teach students both the theoretical and practical applications of the field. UNH is well known and regarded for forensic science.
What kind of college did you attend and how is it similar or different to the University of New Haven and if different why do you think it might be better at UNH?
I attended UNH as an undergraduate and graduate student. Students who want to learn the subject of forensic science have a boatload of opportunities here at UNH which includes hands-on and real-world experience.
What occurs here that doesn’t occur in other schools?
At UNH we have a superb curriculum and faculty. These faculty have great academic credentials and practical experience in the field of forensic science. We are very diversified at UNH in regards to field of forensic science. The major sub divisions of forensic science are all covered by faculty. This way the student has a mentor in that area. such as; DNA analyst, molecular biologist, analytical chemists, trace analysts, physical disciplines like firearms and fingerprinting, and crime scene analysis. This standard is unique to UNH. UNH is one of the only schools that is making a deliberate intent to educate students in the field of Fire Arms Examination. This is in response to the need for discipline in crime laboratories. UNH is partnered with the ATF for training and requirements in regards to fire arms examiners. This is enriching and adding to the curriculum here at UNH.
What teaching methods do you use that seem to excite the students the most?
In the classroom I use the Socratic Method to engage students in active thinking; teach them the skills that they need to know and how to apply forensic science theory in regards to law. I teach students to think on their feet and how to implement theory. Through practical experience or active involvement in case work, I provide students fresh new content. For example if a student is really performing well in the classroom I might invite them to join me out in the field on a real crime scene.
Which faculty/staff member(s) on campus do you admire most?
I admire Dr. Henry C. Lee because he is a nice but challenging individual as well as a good leader. He supports the students who need it and goes the extra step. I remember my experience with Dr. Lee as very positive, educational and mentoring.
What level of participation do you expect from your students?
I expect a lot from my students. Performance testing is a necessary part of academia. Be engaged in discussion, challenge me as an instructor, think in the gray area with confidence; be courageous to challenge the content in the classroom.
What recommendations would you give to incoming freshman?
Show up with a solid foundation in math, chemistry, biology and physics along with lab work, pre-calculus, and algebra. Be a dedicated student.
What is the greatest challenge you face as an instructor?
The nature of science is that it is ever changing and evolving. Forensic Science is a huge field and the curriculum is so broad based. It is hard to stay current and the cost is substantial. There is a constant evolution of new technology and the challenge of how to incorporate it into the classroom. It is always best to be on the leading edge of innovations. Time, energy and resources should be used to implement technology changes.
In your opinion, has technology enhanced your educational process? If so how?
Technology is vital to educational experience. The advantage here at UNH is the great respect we have in the field. We consistently provide theory and practice to the students. Employers are keen for UNH graduates because of their UNH experience.