Forensic Science I Beyond CSI


Image credit:

A few weeks ago, I was busy meeting prospective science students at the university Open Day. It’s always fun to meet these students and find out what excites them about studying science. To my surprise, there were a large number of students interested in becoming forensic scientists. Given the vast array of vocations available to a science student, it seemed as though the job of a forensic scientist has been brought to popularity by shows such as CSI and NCIS.

I think it’s great that these shows have gotten more people interested in science. Whilst the scientists in these shows may not always wear the appropriate protective gear or artificially speed up the analysis of results, the portrayal of scientific techniques used in forensics is fairly accurate.

Although, it may not be realistic, these crime scene investigation shows have been pretty successful at making people aware of a potential career in STEM. CSI and NCIS succeed in bringing excitement to the process of problem solving. Because that is after all, what science is all about isn’t it?

This semester I’ve been gaining insight into what forensic science actually involves. By studying analytical chemistry, I now have a better idea of how chemistry can be used in forensics. An example of this is a lab where we analyse gunshot residue from the hands of a suspect to determine who fired the weapon in a crime investigation. I think that’s pretty cool. Much of the subject focuses on appreciating the vast array of tools available to a forensic chemist and understanding how and why they work. These techniques include mass spectrometry, atomic spectroscopy and UV- vis spectrometry. That may just sound like a bunch of words strung together, but they're really quite powerful machines which help scientists identify people in possession of illegal drugs and identify poisons in food. 

I remember watching CSI at school and being intrigued by the science behind it. I’m glad I followed up on that interest.

If you’re interested to see what the life of a forensic scientist involves, I’d recommend checking out the video below:

Until next time,

You Might Also Like