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

GoldenS.Richard

Forensic Nexus would like to introduce you to Golden S. Richard of New Orleans, Louisiana whose area of expertise is in Digital Forensics.

Golden kindly agreed to being interviewed by Forensic Nexus to share his career path. We asked him the following questions:

What is your area of expertise/forensic discipline?

 My area of expertise is in digital forensics, which involves identifying, preserving, recovering, and analyzing data stored on digital devices, such as computer systems, mobile phones, digital voice recorders, flash media; etc.

 

Where do you work as a forensic scientist?

I do casework at Digital Forensics Solutions, LLC. I teach digital forensics and do research in computer security, reverse engineering, and digital forensics at the University of New Orleans.

 

What is your typical work day like?

I am focused more on research and teaching now, so a typical day involves preparing course materials, teaching students how to do investigations, and supervising graduate students who are doing research to advance the state of the art in digital forensics. I still occasionally do case work and this involves analyzing data on a variety of digital devices, with the most common being computer systems and smartphones.

 

What inspired you to pursue this career?

I have always been interested in file systems, operating systems design and internals, and other low level details of computer systems and digital forensics involves intimate knowledge of these issues, so it is a natural fit for me.

 

What is your academic background?

 I have a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in computer science.

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Currently, that involves interacting with students. But the “Sherlock Holmes” aspect of the job never fades–essentially, being able to recover data that users assume is long gone, whether in the context of some legal action or simple data recovery,

 

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

 Intimate knowledge of computer systems is extremely helpful. If you’re just starting your academic career I highly recommend degrees in computer science and if possible, from a university that strongly emphasizes computer security and digital forensics in the computer science curriculum.

 

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

Forensic Nexus would like to thank Golden for his participation. He has also agreed to offer mentorship to individuals seeking career advisement.

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

To contribute your story, please visit this link: https://forensicnexus.wufoo.com/forms/forensic-scientist-questionnaire/.

Forensic Nexus Q/A Session with a Forensic Jeweler

MariaMaclennanForensic Nexus would like to introduce you to Ms. Maria Maclennan of Dundee, Scotland, UK who has a very unique speciality. She is a Forensic Jeweler.

Ms. Maclennan 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?

Despite originally having trained as a contemporary jewellery designer and metalsmith, I now consider myself to be a ‘Forensic’ Jeweler. I became involved in the field of forensics – specifically, in the field of Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) – through my Master’s research, and I am now reading for a PhD on the topic of ‘Forensic Jewelery Identification’. Primarily, I am interested in how jewelery can be used to help identify victims of international disasters such a 9/11, however I am also interested in jewelery’s use in other related law enforcement fields such as in homicides, missing person(s) cases and cold case investigations. I don’t come from a traditionally Forensic (or even scientific!) background in/approach to the area, but it certainly brings a unique approach to my area of expertise.

 

Where do you work as a forensic scientist?

I am currently a ESRC CASE PhD Researcher at the University of Dundee in Scotland, where I work from my office in the Visual Research Centre at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA). My research is the result of a collaboration between the world-renowned Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) and Duncan of Jordanstone Cllege of Art and Design (DJCAD). One of my supervisors includes Professor Sue Black OBE, a world-renowned expert in the fields of forensic anthropology and DVI.

 

What is your typical work day like?

I generally work full days (9-6 and usually beyond), Monday-Friday in the office, where I conduct research, collaborate with other researchers, and write articles. I also spend a lot of my time speaking and presenting at conferences, seminars and holding University lectures to undergraduate students. As my research is currently in it’s early stages, the majority of my time is spent planning new projects, tests, trials and collaborations for the future which will contribute towards my doctoral thesis.

 

What inspired you to pursue this career?

In comparison to the career I originally trained for (in Art and Design), the area in which I am currently working in came as relatively unexpected! Despite always having a interest in forensics and crime, I never for a second imagined that I would be able to contribute in an original and in native way to such a highly-researched field. When I begun my Master’s project (as part of an external brief on behalf of a project for INTERPOL), I absolutely fell in love with it, which inspired me to continue researching the possibilities of ‘Forensic’ jewellery. Now, I am actively involved in a highly innovative and emerging field of forensic art and design, and I am thoroughly grateful that I have been given the opportunity to apply my craft skills to the field of forensics in such an interdisciplinary way.

 

What is your academic background?

I possess a Bachelor of Design (with Honours) in Jewelery and Metal Design, from which I graduated with an ‘A1’ grade for my thesis. I also possess a Master of Design (with Distinction) for my ‘Forensic Jewelry’ Master’s research project. I am currently undertaking a PhD in Design through which I am further researching this field. Additionally, I am undertaking a professional postgraduate teaching qualification as I continue to build on my academic teaching/lecturing experience.

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the diversity of my work and also the uniqueness of the area in which I am currently researching. To my knowledge, no previous research has been conducted into how jewelery can be used as a method of identification, and it certainly has numerous diverse possibilities over and above what might be immediately obvious. I have a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with and learn from experts in the fields of forensics, forensic art, policing, family liaison, and DVI; but also in design, jewellery, craft, education and research. It really is a great opportunity to research a unique approach within the arsenal of forensic identification.

 

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

Theoretically, as a PhD researcher, I am technically a student myself! My advice therefore comes very recently as a graduate and is hopefully empathetic to current or prospective students in the field. Although the current job climate is increasingly extremely difficult, I have found myself (through hard work, passion, collaboration and perserverance) successfully pioneering the field of ‘Forensic’ jewellery. I think although qualifications are certainly a good thing; practical experience, passion and determination are key qualities that will help a new student/recent graduate succeed. Having a particularly fresh eye or approach to current processes and procedures certainly won’t go a miss, either!

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

Forensic Nexus would like to thank Ms. Maclennan 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.

To contribute your story, please visit www.forensicnexus.com/forensic-scientist-questionnaire

Till next week!

Forensic Nexus Q/A Session with a Firearms Examiner

MattKurimsky

Mr. Kurimsky kindly agreed to being interviewed by Forensic Nexus to share his career path. We asked him the following questions:

 

Where do you work as a forensic scientist?

 I work in a small laboratory of about 45 people. The firearms unit has a supervisor, two firearms examiners, and a NIBIN tech. In addition to casework I also teach forensic firearms at Syracuse University.

 

What is your typical work day like?

On any given day I will normally work one or two firearm operability cases. In addition to analyzing weapons, I will generally use a comparison microscope to work an identification case (comparing fired ammunition components recovered at crime scenes to each other and to known test fires). The cases can involve accidental shootings, illegal machine guns or suppressors, officer involved shootings, homicides, even wildlife cases. The types of firearms and cases vary a great deal. The variety in this field is one of the greatest aspects of this type of work.

 

What inspired you to pursue this career?

 I starting shooting at the age of four and I have been involved in firearms ever since. I put myself through school working as an armorer in a gun store. It’s a profession that allows me to work in a field I love while doing a needed public service.

 

What is your academic background?

I have a BS in Biology and did graduate work in Forensic Biology. Once you are hired by a department, the training period is about 2-3 years. You will tour many firearm and ammunition manufacturing factories, and become a factory certified armorer for numerous weapons. Once your initial training is done, you will continue to train on new firearms and attend various professional development training.

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

There is no other field in forensic science that has this much to offer. You have the opportunity to learn and see so much in this field. The work is diverse and you have the opportunity to meet and work with other examiners from all over the world. It’s the only job in the lab that your working on a microscope one minute and firing a weapon the next. Greatest job out there!

 

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

First look at the web sites that post the positions for forensic science jobs, if your interested in firearms, the site to look at would be afte.org. Before you spend tens of thousands on an education make sure it will prepare you for what you want to do. Do not just take an advisors word that you will be prepared for a job. The postings will tell you what you need. If you can get an internship that will also help. The community is small and doing well during an internship is better than nailing the perfect interview. Having an examiner call and give you a recommendation because you worked in their lab is priceless. One last thought, being a firearms examiner is the best job out there. It takes work to land a position, but its well worth the effort.

 

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

 

Forensic Nexus would like to thank Mr. Kurimsky for his participation. He has also agreed to offer mentorship to individuals seeking career advisement.

 

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

 

To contribute your story, please visit www.forensicnexus.com/forensic-scientist-questionnaire

 

Till next week!

Forensic Nexus Q/A Sessions with a Forensic Anthropologist/Archaeologist

CarolineSimsForensic Nexus would like to introduce you to Ms. Caroline Sims of  Nottinghamshire, England whose area of expertise is in Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology.

Ms. Sims 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 a self employed Forensic Archaeologist and Anthropologist.

 

Where do you work as a forensic scientist?

I work from home, my job has many different facets. I consult for Police forces, work for universities teaching and doing other jobs as required. I also have a small part time job evenings and weekends.

 

What is your typical work day like?

My work is very varied. I may inventory archaeological skeletons, consult for the police, either by email or attend the scene, spend the day teaching anthropology or at archaeology field school. I have a car boot full of equipment ready to go at a moments notice.

 

What inspired you to pursue this career?

I had tried many things and was having another change of career which unfortunately (or fortunately) was withdrawn after a year of qualifying for it. I spent some time considering what I wanted and decided to go to University to broaden my horizons and job prospects. I found an area I fell in love with that I have touched on on and off through my life and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

What is your academic background?

I have a BSc First class honours in Forensic Science from the University of Lincoln and an MSc in Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology from Cranfield University. I came to the field later in life having tried many jobs and not been truly happy with any of them.

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The variety is excellent. I get to work with many fabulous people and spend a lot of time outdoors.

 

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

It can be very difficult to get work in these fields. Perseverance is the key. You need a good support system and try to get a mentor. This allows skills to be passed on and will give you introductions that you may not otherwise get. Attend conferences and network hard. Create yourself a niche.

 

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

Forensic Nexus would like to thank Ms. Sims 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.

To contribute your story, please visit this link.

 

Till next week!

Forensic Nexus Q/A Sessions with a Forensic Psychologist!

MichaelRabin

Dr. Rabin kindly agreed to being interviewed by Forensic Nexus to share his career path. We asked him the following questions:

What is your area of expertise/forensic discipline?

I am a Forensic Psychologist.  I  have a PhD in Clinical Psychology with specialty certifications in forensic psychology and forensic neuropsychology.  I conduct evaluations for criminal defendants and civil litigants. With the former, I will evaluate fitness to stand trial, mental state or sanity at the time of the alleged offenses, ability to understand and competently waive Miranda rights, assess sexual dangerousness, evaluate for involuntary commitment, or whatever referral questions the courts or attorneys may pose, while with the latter, I evaluate the degree of mental distress or defect and whether it appears related to a specific act or incident, or whatever issues the courts or lawyers may raise. I also serve as a medical expert for social security, evaluating medical evidence and advising the administrative law judges on whether the person’s mental problems rise to the level necessary to meet the social security listings for disability. In child custody cases, I evaluate the families and significant others and opine to the court as to what custodial arrangements appear to be in the child’s best interest.

 

Where do you work as a forensic scientist?

I served the Circuit Court of Cook County, Il, as a senior staff psychologist and then assistant director of psychology at the Psychiatric Institute, the court’s forensic psychiatry and psychology division.  I am now semi-retired, working within both the Federal and State court systems, and as an expert for Social Security disability hearings.

 

What is your typical work day like?

When I worked full-time, I would typically see one to three cases a day, testify in court, conduct psychological and neuropsychological testing, and write reports.   We saw most of the defendants at our facility,  which within the court administration building and attached to the jail, though we had to go into the jail from time to time if the defendant was too disturbed to be transported.  Now I rarely work more than one or two days a week, but still perform the same actions.  I and my assistant, who also has a doctorate in psychology routinely go into Cook County Jail or other correctional facilities and examine defendants within the facility.  On other days, I work at home, reviewing records, scoring tests, and preparing reports.

 

What inspired you to pursue this career?

I was not so much inspired as I drifted into it, as I had been working in the alcoholism field, and was running a court-diversion program for DUI offenders. When that program was closed, I was offered a position at the Psychiatric Institute by the director, who had overseen the diversion program. I found that I both enjoyed the work and had a knack for it.  I had always been interested in how we tick, and fascinated by the way different people see the same thing, and majored in psychology in college.  I went to graduate school in psychology, and discovered I really enjoyed using testing to pull out what was happening with the patient, and then in my internship, I had many opportunities to hone my interviewing and diagnostic skills, so I had a good background for forensic psychology.  Once I joined the staff, I attached myself to the experienced staff and attended as many seminars as I could, because back then the schools never heard of forensic psychology and there were no courses available in most locations.

 

What is your academic background?

I have a PhD in clinical psychology from Loyola University of Chicago.  I also obtained a masters degree in clinical psychology from Roosevelt University and a bachelor of arts degree with a major in psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The challenge of the courtroom contests, and trying to defend your opinion and fend off the cross-examiner’s attempt to attach your position.  I enjoy chess, bridge, and other completive challenges, and in many ways court testimony is an ultimate contest with real stakes.  I also enjoy figuring out the puzzle each case represents, and trying to determine what is really going on with the examinee when they either do not know themselves or are purposefully trying to deceive you.

 

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

Focus on testing in graduate school, as that it the most important attribute that forensic psychologists bring to the table, our unique contribution.  Other forensic professionals can interview, obtain histories, or review records as well or better than psychologists, but we are the only ones who administer and interpret testing, and when working in a setting where the “patients” always have a financial or legal motivation to try to deceive you, and a sizable percentage do attempt to do so, testing is extremely important in separating reality from fantasy.

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

Forensic Nexus would like to thank Dr. Rabin for his participation. He 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 link.

Till next week!

 

Forensic Nexus Q/A Session with a Fingerprint Expert

DavidGoodwin

Forensic Nexus would like to introduce you to Mr. David Goodwin of Northamptonshire, United Kingdom who is a fingerprint expert.

Mr. Goodwin (or David, as he prefers to be called) kindly agreed to being interviewed by Forensic Nexus to share his career path. We asked him the following questions:

 

What is your area of expertise/forensic discipline?

I am a Fingerprint Expert with over 32 years experience in human identification. I worked as a Police employee for 28 years and have been working for myself as an independent fingerprint expert for the last 3 years.

During my time working for the Police, I worked as a Head of Fingerprint Services for a County Police Force.

 

Where do you work as a forensic scientist?

Working for yourself is a lonely world.

I mainly work as a Defence Expert Witness, and therefore have to travel to Fingerprint Bureaux throughout the UK to examine contested fingerprint evidence, currently my office is just my spare bedroom, it is after all, just for report writing. Currently converting my garage into a small fingerprint development laboratory after purchasing equipment following the closure of the Forensic Science Service in the UK.

 

What is your typical work day like?

When I am not travelling to the far reaches of the UK, I spend my days at home writing up my reports for each case. As well as working for myself, I also sub contract to a number of larger providers of forensic science as “their expert”, so I am always busy.

Nowadays, when the phone rings I never know where in the world the call is coming from, in the last few days it has been from Tanzania, Nigeria and the USA, it is a very small world.

 

What inspired you to pursue this career?

In 1978 I was a motorcycle courier in London, it was raining and I did not enjoy my job. In the London evening paper there was an advert for jobs at New Scotland yard as a fingerprint officer. 32 years later I have literally travelled the world, met and spoken to some wonderful fingerprint staff and in the last few years had the opportunity to work in Nigeria for the UN.

What inspired me? I have no idea except that it was raining. I am so pleased it was.

 

What is your academic background?

I was very lucky, I joined at a time when you were accepted as a person with potential, not with educational qualifications. I won’t go into how poor my qualifications are, but in todays world I would not have stood a chance of getting this job.

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Previously, managing and working with some of the most experienced and professional staff you could wish to meet, nowadays… working for myself, the freedom to pick and choose where and when I want to work, the amazing variety of opportunities that are out there in this world which you are not aware of when you work in just one office for many, many years.

What do I enjoy most? Every single day.

 

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

Getting into a career in fingerprints is very difficult and opportunities are few and far between.

Get any job in a Police Force as a starter, just to get your foot in the door. Then watch out for job adverts that are only circulated internally at first (they never go external at the start) this will give you a better chance of getting into the career you want as a trainee.

Good Luck.

 

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

Forensic Nexus would like to thank David for his participation. He 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 link.

Till next week!

Forensic Nexus Q/A Sessions with a Crime Laboratory Director

RogerKahn

Forensic Nexus would like to introduce you to Dr. Roger Kahn of Houston, Texas, who kindly agreed to being interviewed to share his career path. We asked him the following questions:

 

What is your area of expertise/forensic discipline?

Forensic Genetics, Biology and Crime Laboratory Management.

 

Where do you work as a forensic scientist?

I am the Director of Forensic Genetics at the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences (aka the Medical Examiner’s Office) in Houston, Texas.

 

What is your typical work day like?

This is a medium/large DNA laboratory with managers who supervise teams of staff members working in serology, DNA operations, DNA interpretation and QA/Compliance/R&D. As you might imagine, there are many casework, QA and personnel matters that need my attention each day. I also review cases and guide troubleshooting and research.

We are just beginning to conduct molecular genetics activity to support the medical examiners. We’re developing a next generation chip-sequencing tool for cardiac channelopathies.

 

What inspired you to pursue this career?

I began when forensic DNA testing was in its infancy. I worked with purified DNA routinely in my graduate work, studying its properties and investigating its recombination and repair. I found the idea of using my experience to assist the justice system very appealing.

 

What is your academic background?

I have a Ph.D. in human genetics from Yale University.

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the challenge of keeping a large laboratory running smoothly. Mentoring young staff members, working to contribute to ever-improving methodologies, doing the best possible analyses on the evidence we receive, all of these things are truly enjoyable and I feel fortunate to be able to contribute to the justice system in an effective and beneficial way.

 

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

Prepare for a career in science before you work on the specialty topics in forensic science. Take rigorous basic science courses, pursue a thesis-based graduate degree and craft the strongest possible resume with the best possible GPA

 

Have we covered all bases? Any further questions come to mind while reading Dr. Kahn story? Please feel free to submit questions by commenting on this post and we will direct them to Dr. Kahn and post his responses.

Forensic Nexus would like to thank Dr. Kahn for his participation. He 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 link.

Till next week!