Chrissy Black, Senior Technician in the Forensic Business (Forensic Drug Chemistry Group) says being a forensic scientist, was her dream job since she was 10 years old.
“I became interested in forensics from watching a lot of CSI! “I have always enjoyed knowing how things worked and the reason behind why things are the way they are and science gives me those answers.”
Chrissy says the support from mentors at university provided opportunities to explore all areas of forensic science as well as research in other areas of science, but progressing in forensics in New Zealand wasn’t straightforward.
“I felt like it was going to be a really long road to get me towards my goal of becoming a forensic scientist. In New Zealand, there is no undergraduate program for forensic science, so you need to complete a Bachelor of Science before applying to start the forensics post-graduate component of study that I was actually interested in. So I took six months off study to look into other universities, including in Australia, and finally found Griffith University in Brisbane that offered an excellent program tailored specifically towards Forensic Science.”
Instead of continuing to postgraduate study Chrissy took up a role as an analytical chemist before relocating from Brisbane to join the Drug Chemistry team at ESR in 2018.
DNA sampling, processing of exhibits, maintaining and operating a variety of analytical instruments and carrying out quality checks are key parts of the current role, but opportunities extend way beyond that with the opportunity to be involved in research projects, assessing new instrumentation and presenting research in scientific publications and at international conferences.
“I love the diversity that comes with my role - no two days are the same”, says Chrissy. “I have had a lot of opportunities to partake in research projects which have led to journal articles being published.
“There is a great support network of people for training and to act as mentors that can help grow your career as well as opportunities to work with a wide range of people from different teams within ESR. Most of all, I enjoy that everyday provides a new challenge, whether that be with having to problem solve issues with instrumentation or developing a new analysis technique. Each day is different and you definitely do not get bored!”