Crime scene clues to be investigated at Sugar Land camp

SUGAR LAND – A pit bull attack that made national headlines is one of several forensic investigations that students will scrutinize while attending an upcoming University of Houston-Victoria DNA camp.

The DNA, Genetics and Forensics Camp will be June 25 to 28 at UH Sugar Land, where UHV offers many of the degree programs. Classes will be from 1 to 5 p.m. in the biology labs at Brazos Hall, 14004 University Blvd. The camp is open to anyone ages 10 to 19.

Camp participants will learn how to gather evidence, use laboratory equipment and analyze DNA.

“The camp is perfect for students interested in becoming doctors, forensic scientists, biologists or pursuing other science-based careers,” said Nancy Penry, UHV training and development coordinator.

This year’s camp participants will get an inside account of how forensic testing can impact a crime scene investigation. Camp director Richard Gunasekera, a UHV professor and director of graduate biology studies, recently was asked by the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office to look for clues in a trailer near the scene of where a pit bull was suspected of mauling a 4-year-old boy.

Richard Gunasekera

Gunasekera, together with the sheriff and the Crime Scene Investigation team, collected trace samples, and took them back to the forensics lab in Sugar Land to perform testing. Camp attendees will get a chance to hear from Gunasekera about the investigation and see the results of the samples he tested.

Victoria County Sheriff Michael O’Connor and an investigator from his office are planning on making an appearance at the camp to talk about the case, Gunasekera said.

In addition, students will extract DNA from bananas as well as other fruits and plants from the grocery store.

“They also will have a chance to look at DNA of their own hair and investigate their blood types,” Gunasekera said. “We’ll take a look at samples of saliva and go over how these things are used by scientists.”

Gunasekera said the camp provides an excellent foundation for students interested in studying biology in college. At the end of the camp, students will earn a certificate of completion.

“It’s a nice item to include in your portfolio for college or jobs,” Gunasekera said.

The camp registration deadline is Thursday. The fee, which includes a camp T-shirt, is $185. To register, visit To pay by credit card, call 866-800-8762 or 361-570-4361.

For more information, contact Gunasekera at 281-275-8826 or

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Jeremy Shapiro