Forensic Nexus Q/A Session with a Forensic Toxicology Scientist!

Lauren EspositoForensic Nexus would like to introduce you to Ms. Lauren Esposito of Rockville, Maryland who kindly agreed to being interviewed by Forensic Nexus to share her career path. We asked her the following questions:

What is your area of expertise/forensic discipline?

I am certified in Forensic Biology, Toxicology, Chemistry and Trace Evidence & Analysis. I am currently working as an Analytical Toxicologist I in the Department of Defense Quality Assurance Program (DOD-QA).

 

Where do you work as a forensic scientist?

 I work for the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES) in the Forensic Toxicology Unit. There are approximately 40 people who work for AFMES ranging from PhD’s to young professionals with a B.A/B.S. in a physical science. The employee’s range in age from 21 to 60 years old and everyone is extremely nice and helpful. There are a few different small laboratories in the office along with office space for all the employees.

 

What is your typical workday like?

 The DOD-QA is responsible for testing 6 other drug testing laboratories around the U.S.A to ensure the labs testing standards are extremely high and no one individual is slacking in their day-to-day duties for testing individual samples. We send out 240 Open urine samples a month and 240 Blind urine samples a month. For 1 designated week of the month, I am in the lab testing the open and blind samples to ensure they have the correct drug and concentration of that drug in each urine specimen. I perform liquid-liquid and solid phase combined with GC/MS analysis for all samples. The rest of my time is spent generating paperwork for the blind samples, making new calibrators/controls and testing them, and performing my own research experiments.

 

What inspired you to pursue this career?

 When I was younger I always loved math, science, and puzzles and I kept hearing about this newly advertised field called Forensic Science. When I was choosing an undergraduate school I wanted to make sure they had classes I could take in Forensic Science so I could become more familiar with this discipline. In undergraduate school I started to fall in love with Forensic Science because it was so diverse but still had the different disciplines of science. It seemed like I would be helping to solve a real world puzzle using science. Since then I was hooked and continued to go to graduate school to obtain a Master of Science in Forensic Science.

 

What is your academic background?

 I got a B.A. in Biology and then went directly to graduate school and received a Master of Science in Forensic Science (M.S.F.S).

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

 I love that I am applying what I learned in graduate school to my everyday job duties as well as being able to perform my own research to better the forensic science community.

 

What suggestions do you have for students that are interested in pursuing a career in your profession?

 Make sure you take some classes in Forensic Science to fully understand what it entails and how it is different from what the media shows you. Don’t go into this field for the wrong reasons. When you go into a Forensic Science program, I would suggest going into a program that is diverse in the disciplines it teaches so you have better options when you graduate and to truly find out which field you prefer.

 

Have we covered all bases? Any further questions come to mind while reading Ms. Esposito’s story? Please feel free to submit questions by commenting on this post and we will direct them to Ms. Esposito and post her responses.

 

Forensic Nexus would like to thank Ms. Esposito for her participation. She has also agreed to offer mentorship to individuals seeking career advisement.

 

Contact us at info@forensicnexus.com for more information about mentorship.

 

Every Monday we will be spotlighting forensic professionals. To contribute your story, please visit this page.

 

Till next week!