The scientists at Sorenson Forensics are experienced, dedicated professionals who are committed to using their knowledge of DNA science to uncover truth. In this Forensics Spotlight series, get an intimate look at what we do here and what keeps us excited about and engaged in this fascinating field. Because our employees deal regularly with confidential crime-solving work, we are identifying them only by their initials.
Forensic DNA Analyst/Process Engineer
B.S. from University of Arizona: Evolutionary Biology
MSFS from Virginia Commonwealth University
What do you do in your job?
The other two members on my team and I determine problem spots in our laboratory or analysis process, find the best corrective action, then implement that action into our production workflow. Sometimes this means physically changing how we do things, but more often it involves coding our Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) so the screens are more intuitive and the system is easier to use. So my job is to make sure everyone else in the lab can do their jobs quickly and efficiently.
What motivated you to choose a career in forensics, and what keeps you motivated now?
I initially found the science to be fascinating. I was always very much into genetics in college, which is what prompted me to get my master’s degree. I also really enjoy the work we do because it has an immediate impact on the communities we live in.
For me it is not about how many criminals we lock up but more about the victims and the families we finally give a bit of closure to. What keeps me motivated is the fact that we need to continually find more efficient ways to process samples so we don’t have backlogs. Some families wait months, years, and in some extreme cases, decades to hear about their cases. As a forensics community we need to be aware of the new technologies and techniques that currently exist and utilize them efficiently in our labs to help get rid of this huge backlog problem.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the fact that every day is like working on a new puzzle. We have to start with an issue, work our way back to the root cause, then come up with an appropriate solution. Bonus points for when the fix works!
What do you envision for the future vis-à-vis forensics?
I envision much more efficient processing that provides investigators with even more powerful information. Maybe even the possible race of a suspect, their eye color, or their hair color. The possibilities are truly wide open.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in forensics?
Don’t think that CSI is anything like a real career in forensics. Forensics is made up of so many different fields and specialties! Take your time to find the one that fits you, and then pursue that passion hard.
Sorenson Forensics is a leading provider of advanced forensic casework and DNA testing services to federal, state and local crime laboratories. We also assist officers of the court in individual criminal cases and offer comprehensive forensic DNA services to private-industry clients. Contact us to see what we can do for you, and follow us on Facebook and @ForensicLabPros on Twitter.