What’s it like to be a forensic scientist? Is it as exciting as it’s depicted on TV? You bet it is!


I direct the forensic biology research and training program at Sacramento State University and consult with attorneys all over the country on DNA evidence.


If you want to give your students an insider’s view on the life of a “real world” criminalist, an opportunity to hear about my most fascinating cases, and tips on how to prepare for a career in the field, Forensic Science Made Simple delivers just that.



Educating college students, attorneys, judges, and juries about forensic biology and DNA has been my mission and passion for more than 20 years. I’m excited to extend my reach into middle schools and high schools, grades 7-12.

Choose from flexible “mix and match” modules, including interactive presentations and portable mini labs for individual classrooms and school assemblies.

My program will delight and engage your kids!

Who knows? Maybe some of your students will be inspired to join the next generation of elite crime solvers!



What to expect:

• A lively description of a day in the life of a criminalist, comparing “takes” from TV shows against reality.
• A 10 minute video tour inside a real crime lab.

What your students will take away:

• An accurate view of what criminalists do and don’t do.
• A new mindset: Question what you see on TV shows and the internet!
• A window into whether the profession is a good fit for them.

What to expect:

• A “walk through” of three exciting real-world forensic cases that will make your students’ jaws drop!
• Photos of real crime scene evidence (age appropriate; nothing graphic)
• Q&A

What your students will take away:

• An appreciation for the important work that criminalists do.
• A visceral excitement about the profession.
• The mindset that science isn’t “dry” and scientists can be good storytellers.
• Some exciting stories to share with their family and friends!

What to expect:

• An interactive PowerPoint presentation.
• Accurate and up-to-date information on hiring requirements.
• Coursework: high school and college
• The “extra somethings” that will take you far.
• Q&A
What your students will take away:
• An excellent idea of how to become a criminalist.
• The “dos” that will get them hired and the “don’ts” that will slam the door.
• My contact information and an offer to visit my lab at Sacramento State.

What to expect: An interactive PowerPoint presentation that:

• Walks your students through a real forensic case, beginning at the crime scene and ending in court.
• Emphasizes the importance of keeping an open mind and letting the evidence speak for itself.
• Provides lively examples of how criminalists locate and test biological evidence.
What your students will take away:
• Excitement about science and a sense that it’s fun and accessible.
• A window into the kinds of experiments criminalists perform and why.
• An appreciation of the power of science to reveal the truth.
• A cool real world crime story to share with family and friends.

What to expect:

• Dr. Ballard’s tale of how she became a writer and artist.
• Examples of her science-rich of her work, including a lively reading from her award-winning novel for kids and visuals of her “cartoons”

What your students will take away:

• A new mindset that scientists can also be creative.
• A new mindset that science, at its heart, is a creative enterprise.
• A copy of Mateo and the Gift of Presence (at pricing; teachers can decide whether to offer parents the option of purchasing the book prior to, or following, the school visit)
• Free 5 x 7 copies of Dr. Ballard’s cartoons.

What to expect:

• A 2 hour, hands-on forensic biology mini-lab brought right to your classroom!
Your students will be given…
• A description of a mock crime scenario and a box of related evidence. (It’s their job to test the items inside!)
• The opportunity to use a Crime Lite, enzymatic assays, and immunological assays to locate and identify body fluid stains.

What your students will take away:

• Experience using common forensic biology screening tools.
• An appreciation for the importance of experimental controls.
• The fun of exploring, for themselves, what it’s like to work in a crime lab.
• Cool stories to share with family and friends.

California State University, Sacramento
Department of Biological Sciences

6000 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95819-6077

Ruth E. Ballard, Ph.D.

Professor of Biological Sciences and Forensic DNA Expert

Phone: (916) 278-6969
Cell: (916) 835-3757
Fax: (916) 278-6993

Office: TSC 5003 

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