Posts Tagged ‘forensic science’
Ok, ok, status updates:
1. I graduate this Saturday.
Yup, that is right. After two years of classes learning about fingerprints, firearms, DNA, autopsies, homicides, crime scenes, and the like, I will be getting my Master of Forensic Science degree from The George Washington University. I’m feeling a tad ambivalent about it though. On one hand I’m extremely happy that I’m done with school (for probably the rest of my life). On the other hand, I’m wondering what I’m going to do with myself. I won’t have classes, homework, a job, and a life to juggle. I’m fearful that I’m going to be bored. But I have lots of hobbies I want to pursue (like my photography, guitar, and violin). Maybe I’ll actually keep updating my blog consistently (what a concept!).
2. No Remicade for Me.
I visited my GI doctor last month and he decided that it isn’t the right time for me to go on Remicade (more about Remicade here). He felt that my symptoms weren’t severe enough to warrant me going on such an extreme treatment method. Instead, he upped my 6-MP dosage. Hopefully this will slowly heal my fistula. Since the visit the pain and discomfort from my fistula has dropped a lot. I’m going to set up a visit with my colon and rectal surgeon for next month to see how it is doing and hopefully see if the drain that is set in there can be removed.
3. Flickr and Twitter Updates
I have seriously become uber-addicted to Twitter lately. I’m updating at least once a day (if not more than that sometimes). I’ve also set it up so that I can update it via SMS text messaging through my cell phone. Since I don’t have an unlimited text messaging plan with my phone company (T-Mobile), I am trying to keep myself from updating via SMS only when I’m not within reach of internet access (which is pretty rare).
I’ve also updated my flickr with a bunch of pictures. Some are from my friend Larry’s wedding and some are from Cheri’s friend Melissa’s wedding. There are also a bunch of random other images as well. Here’s one of my favorite photos from this last batch, our friend Kate (left) with Cheri (right) getting ready for Larry’s wedding:
This past week was my first week at my new job. I’d rather not go into details, but I will say that I love my new job. The people are great, the atmosphere is very laid back, and I’m loving what I’m doing. Even my commute isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. My entire commute is in the opposite direction of the rush, so that makes it very easy to do.
This upcoming week I begin my last semester at The George Washington University. I’m excited to be finished with this program. I’ve been in school for seven years now and I’m ready to be done for good. As of now, I have no desire to get a PhD in anything, so I’m pretty sure I’m done for a long time. Who knows, maybe in the future I’ll pursue some sort of forensic science PhD, but for now, I’m happy working and gaining experience.
This semester, I’m taking three courses. I’ll be taking Firearms and Toolmark Examination, Trace Evidence Analysis, and Moot Court. Out of all of these, I’m most excited to be taking the firearms course. I don’t know anything about guns and I’ve been eager to learn about how they can be forensically analyzed.
So, recently I began reading the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay and its protagonist got me thinking about some career ideas. The main character, Dexter, is a blood splatter pattern analyst. I’ve been intrigued by blood splatter but haven’t had the chance to study it in a course yet (I will this summer in my Crime Scene Investigation course though). But this book made me investigate it a little further.
One thing I learned is that it is one of the few specialties (other than accident reconstruction and ballistics) in forensic science that uses a lot of math and physics. This made me happy to learn because I’ve been struggling with the idea of just giving up my math and physics background for forensic science. But now that I have learned about this career path, I’ve been seriously considering going for it once I graduate.
So I did a little research and in order to become a blood splatter pattern analyst, you’ve got to first start off as a general crime scene investigator. Once you do that, you can begin taking specialized day courses at different police colleges and seminars during the year. Once you go through the courses, you can get your certification (through the IABPA), and then you can work on getting a job as a blood splatter pattern analyst.
Have I mentioned here that my masters program in Forensic Science is very underwhelming? Compared to the year I spent in graduate school for Physics, this program just feels like it isn’t as hard as it should be. I mean come on, IT IS GRADUATE SCHOOL. But I’m at a crossroads about the whole situation.
I love my classes (which is very difficult to say about much of my time in Physics). My Homicide Investigation course is truly interesting. The readings are very interesting and the teacher–a former homicide detective–is a riot in class. The only problem is that I don’t find it very challenging. I mean, I’m learning a lot about how a homicide investigation is ran and the many different types of homicides there are, yet I don’t feel like I’m having to work hard in the course.
My other course is Forensic Pathology. And this course is wonderful. Despite the fact that it isn’t taught on campus, it is still a good course. I’m learning all about things like post-mortem changes in the body, blunt force and sharp force injuries, forensic dentistry, forensic anthropology, and so on. It is taught by a group of licenced medical examiners who have tremendous amounts of experience in the field. Every class is very well done. And once again, I don’t really do anything for the course except listen to lectures and take two tests. I mean I haven’t even bought on of the “recommended” text books for the course, and I don’t think I will.
I guess my problem is that a majority of the college work I’ve ever had involved spending hours upon hours on homework sets only to get a poor grade back and an urgence to pluck my eyeballs out. But in these courses, there is no written work. We have readings, mid-term exams, and final exams. Some courses have a corresponding lab, and others occasionaly have us write a paper or two (OH NO!). That’s it! Like I’ve said before, this is graduate school. Isn’t this supposed to be hard?
Oh well, I guess we’ll see if I’ll be eating my foot when I take my mid-terms this week.
Man it has been a long time since I’ve written anything here. I guess I’ve just been busy the last month. There must be some kind of correlation between the amount of blogging I do and having a full time job.
The semester is beginning to wind down. I’ve only got a few exercises left in Photography and just a bunch of readings to do for Criminal Law–and then finals. I’ve signed up for my courses for next semester. I’m taking Forensic Pathology, Firearms and Toolmark Identification, and Homicide Investigation. Since the classes haven’t been too demaning in this program, I’ve decided to bump up my course load to three per semester. I’m really excited about my classes next semester, especially Firearms and Toolmark Identification. This is one of the two fields I think that I might want to go into after I graduate. I’ve been considering going into Questioned Document Examination as well.
This week Cheri and I will be travelling down to C-peake for Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to the visit, especially since we haven’t been home since June. The only thing I’m not looking forward is the drive home. Since I have to work a whole day on Wednesday, I won’t get home until 4:30, so we probably won’t be able to leave here until 5ish. And this being NOVA, traffic in every direction sucks. So we’re going to try to experiment with some alternate routes to try to find a way home while avoiding the heaviest traffic.
Hopefully I’ll get back into blogging here a little more frequently. Its definitely something I’ve been missing.
Today I experienced donating blood for the first time. On Monday, I received an e-mail from the Forensic Science listserv from school that blood was needed for Collaborative Testing Services. This is a company that does DNA profiling and serology certification tests. Those who want to go into those fields must pass a certification test, and thus they need blood in order to perform said tests. Normally I probably wouldn’t have done it, except they offered a $50 stipend to do so. So of course, being the starving graduate student I am, I hopped at the chance.
In order to donate my blood, I needed to go to the INova Blood Donation Center in Annandale. Originally, I thought the center was in the hospital, and was very confused when I couldn’t find it. After asking the information desk clerk, I learned that it was in a facility near the hospital, but she wasn’t exactly sure where (thanks for the “information”). After walking back to my car, I realized that I was about a block away from the center.
Even though I had a 9 o’clock appointment, I arrived at about 9:30 at the center. I was instructed by the Collaborative Testing Service that I needed to meet someone named Justin in the waiting room before I gave my blood. This was so he could get my information and give me my money.
While in the waiting room, a man who looked and acted like he was probably taking anti-psychotic medication decided to strike up a conversation with me. Since I was wearing my Virginia Tech alumni t-shirt, he decided to tell me all about how his brother Bob graduated from Virginia Tech and how Tech was his favorite football team. I didn’t really know how to respond because I don’t really follow Tech’s football team very closely. So, I just smiled and nodded and tried to pretend that I was busy concentrating on my donor questionnaire.
Later, as I was in the chair giving blood, he took up the seat next to me and began awkward conversations about ghosts, bigfoot, yeti, and the Bermuda triangle with the workers. As I was avoiding eye contact with him I learned that he was on medication for schizophrenia. I guess my hunch was correct.
After I was done giving blood, I got to sit in the refreshment area for a few minutes munching on cookies and drinking root beer. In the refreshment area was a table with prepackaged goodies. It was here that I noticed many people were hoarding the goodies. They would take three or four at a time, stuff them into their pockets and walk off. There was actually one guy that took about four, walked into the waiting room, and came back for four more. He hadn’t actually given his blood yet either. I was tempted to do the same, but I didn’t want to look tacky. I wonder how many people come to give blood just for the cookies. I mean I just came for the money, so I guess I’m not all that different.
The whole idea of getting paid for giving blood made me realize that maybe I should be doing this voluntarily instead. That way the blood can actually go to someone who really needs it, not just someone passing a certification exam. The next time I can donate is in November. I think I’ll do it again then. Pro bono this time.
Well, today was the end of my first week of classes (classes started last Tuesday) here at The George Washington University (All the graphics and such for the university all have “The” in front of the name. Why? I have no clue.) I’m only taking two classes this semester. The main reasons behind this is that I can’t afford to be a full time student (since I do need to eat), I can still finish the program in two years by taking two classes per semester plus summers, and I didn’t want to get overwhelmed in my first semester. Basically, I didn’t want a re-hashing of what happened in the physics program I was in at Virginia Tech (or should it be The Virginia Tech?).
My first class was last Thursday, and it was Photography in Forensic Science. My first impression was that I was one of three guys in a class of 24 people. This kind of bothered me. Not that I don’t think women can handle forensic science or anything like that, but I’ve never been a minority in my major. In my graduating physics class, there were five girls out of eighteen graduates. Here it seems like the majority of the students in forensic science are women. I guess I just figured that most women wouldn’t want to handle some of the gruesome aspects that may accompany this program, but I seem to have been wrong. Its men that are the wimps. Hmmm.
Going into tonight’s class (Criminal Law I), I figured maybe that Thursday’s class was a fluke, that there were more guys in this program. Nope. I was wrong. Out of a class of 35, 4 guys. Weird.
One thing I will say about the classes in this program is that they probably won’t be anywhere near as difficult as any of my physics courses (*knocks on wood*).
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