Forensic Scientist

Forensic Scientist

LIsa Black

Cape Coral, FL

Female, 49

I spent the five happiest years of my life in a morgue. As a forensic scientist in the Cleveland coroner’s office I analyzed gunshot residue on hands and clothing, hairs, fibers, paint, glass, DNA, blood and many other forms of trace evidence, as well as crime scenes. Now I'm a certified latent print examiner and CSI for a police department in Florida. I also write a series of forensic suspense novels, turning the day job into fiction. My books have been translated into six languages.

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986 Questions


Last Answer on July 21, 2022

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What types of cases are the most interesting/exciting for forensic scientists?

Asked by brikhaus about 11 years ago

That probably depends on the person, but in general I'm sure we like cases best when we can discover or determine useful facts that help in the investigation. It's not much fun to process a pile of evidence or do hours of work that ultimately (as most of it does) doesn't make much difference to determining or proving who did it. Homicides are, of course, the most high-profile but they also seem to arrive at the most inconvenient times and require hours and hours of working without a break. Personally I'm probably a little happier to solve a criminal mischief than anything else, because they're so petty and pointless--just stupid kids with nothing better to do than be wantonly destructive! At least a burglary has a logical goal. A selfish, inconsiderate goal, but a goal.

Have you ever helped crack a really cold case, or one where someone wrongly imprisoned was exonerated?

Asked by Sara about 11 years ago I've cleared many people but before they were convicted--just routine stuff during the course of an investigation. Of two cold cases that come to mind, in one the guy recanted his confession and eventually won a new trial so I was re-examining evidence, and then just before the new trial he confessed again and went back to jail. Then in the other case, which was quite old, the descendent sued the state for wrongful imprisonment, but the court found that the state had not acted wrongly and  still had every reason to think the guy was guilty and no reason to think he wasn't, so that didn't really change anything, either. Unfortunately many of the other cold cases I've worked on are still cold.  

What are the biggest myths or misrepresentations you see on CSI-type shows about how forensics work?

Asked by Goolia.J about 11 years ago

Oh, where to begin, there are so many.

Okay, #1 biggest: We do not really have a BatComputer! Do you remember the episode where they poured in alphabet soup and it spelled out a message? Real scientific instrumentation does not work that way. We don't have a machine that can accept any type of animal, vegetable, or mineral and tell you exactly what you want to know about it. Instruments might analyze organic material or inorganic material or, like my infrared spectrometer, inorganics but only within certain parameters. For example my atomic absorption spectrophotometer was set up to detect barium, antimony and lead on shooter's hand swabs. The hand could be covered in arsenic and I wouldn't have any way to tell. Materials can be run against a database of similar materials, yes, but databases exist because some lab tech went around rounding up samples of nail polish and created their own. There is no national database of perfume or wall paint or cat food--and even if there was, those items change formula every couple of months. So even if I can easily determine that this fiber is, say, nylon 6,6, there is no database that's going to tell me that it comes from a Halston sweater sold only by Macy's and this is how many they sold in this area and this is who they sold them to and, oh, here's a driver's license photo. Companies do not publish their formulas and stores do not hand out their sales figures (and we certainly cannot 'hack in' and get them). That would most likely be violating SEC and civil liberty laws. Okay, enough of that rant.

#2: Someone like me in Smalltown, Anystate, cannot scan in a latent fingerprint (from a crime scene) and search everyone who has ever been fingerprinted in the entire United States including job applicants and military. Most databases are local, maybe statewide depending on where you are and your software. I can search people arrested in my town, and have been receiving those from the county for a number of years. I do not have access to job applicants, not even our own, and certainly not military. That said, I estimate that in five to ten years I will be able to electronically submit a limited number of latent prints to the FBI's national database, but certainly not yet and certainly not for the past 50 years, as TV shows would have you believe.

Those are the two biggest. Oh, and we very rarely package evidence in plastic, we don't wear skin-tight, designer clothes and high heels to crime scenes (when you work around blood, bleach, dirt and decomp fluid you never wear anything that you'd be upset about if it got ruined), we don't interview suspects or tell the cops who to arrest, and we're not all young, single, sexy and angst-ridden. We're really very ordinary. Though I understand that doesn't make for the most captivating TV character.

In your professional opinion is a degree (undergrad) in biology favored over a degree in forensic science?

Asked by Denise Olivas about 11 years ago

No, I wouldn't say so. I never use a lot of what I learned in biology on the job. It depends much more on where the degree is from, how many years it took, and how much practical experience in crime scene and lab work was included in the curriculum. You might want to call the crime labs you'd want to work at and ask what kind of degrees their employes have.

Can fingerprints be pulled off of nearly anything, or are there some surfaces or materials that simply don't produce good prints?

Asked by dan79 about 11 years ago

The best surfaces for fingerprints are smooth and glossy: clean glass, porcelain, polished marble. It goes downhill from there. The rougher and more porous a surface is, the less chance of finding prints on it. Also if the surface is smooth but if it's covered with dirt or dust--someone who touches it takes away dust instead of leaving a print. Then people's fingers vary greatly in how much sweat and oil will be on the ridges at any given moment--if they're recently washed, if they have dry skin, there will be less chance of leaving prints. Then the environment the object is in--if it's a cool, protected place with steady temperature and humidity, prints can last for years. If it's exposed to light and heat and varying conditions, a print might not last very long at all. Fingerprints are subject to so many variables that we never make an assumption about whether we'll find them or not.

You show up to a crime scene and a man is dead with one gunshot wound to the head, and the gun lying near him on the floor. What are the factors you look at to determine whether it was murder or suicide?

Asked by SJR about 11 years ago

Most people do not leave notes so the absence of a note doesn't really affect things.

Was there any sign of a struggle or forced entry? Is the blood spatter consistent with the position of the body (bearing in mind the injuries--it is possible for people to shoot themselves in the and then be moving around afterwards, it all depends on the power and location of the shot)? Is the injury consistent with a self-inflicted wound (angle, distance). Is there a history of previous attempts, depression or problems? 

When did you know you wanted to work with the dead? Have you always been into the macabre?

Asked by MyTalonz about 11 years ago

I'm not into the macabre (I don't have skull earrings and I don't watch zombie movies...unless Shaun of the Dead counts because I love Simon Pegg) (nothing against zombie movies, just don't seem to catch them) and the only thing I appreciate about the dead is that they're quiet and they don't give me a hard time. I've always been into detecting, is the thing. The problem is I wanted to be a detective like Ellery Queen, work my own hours and then just call everyone into the library once I've figured it out. But I never wanted to be a cop and have to deal with stressed-out people, so being a detective was never really an option. A CSI is just unusual enough to be interesting but just routine enough to keep my inner homebody/bookworm/wallflower self comfortable.

Is the thing you see in movies where thieves wear "synthetic" fingerprints so that they leave SOMEONE ELSE'S prints behind actually possible in real life? Can you tell the difference between human and synthetic prints?

Asked by DallasR about 11 years ago

This is certainly possible, but would be a very iffy way to frame someone. First you have to talk this other person into cooperating while you make a mold of their finger. THen you can use some epoxy based putty to cast the finger. Provided this goes well the pattern should be an exact duplicate, so that's good. Now you have to coat that with something to form a fingerprint. Don't use your own sweat and oils in case we do touch DNA on the print. On CSI they used cooking oil spray, which might work but depending on how long or short it is until the print is processed, it might be too soft and just smear when the tech powders it. Then you have to put this cast finger to a piece or pieces of evidence that you are SURE the crime scene tech will print. This is where it gets tricky. Say you stage a break-in and you put it on the window frame or broken glass. Maybe the frame is too rough to hold a decent print, maybe the tech fingerprints 15 pieces of broken glass and then gives up. Maybe you take great pains to put it on the murder weapon and then a traumatized witness or a clumsy tech smudges the print when they pick it up. Maybe you leave it on a note in the victim's pocket (paper is also very iffy!) and then EMS cuts the shirt off and leaves it in the driveway or throws it out in the ER or it gets soaked in blood. THEN when the tech lifts the print, it needs to look consistent with the 'background' from the item and the manner in which it was gripped. Of course if the rubber flakes off into the print that might get more attention than you want. THEN if we decide to do DNA analysis on the print (which is possible even after it's been processed with powder or superglue) the DNA results might be utterly negative or show animal strains (?) or whatever. Again, that might raise a red flag with an analyst, or they might simply figure that there wasn't enough sample to get a profile. So you MIGHT get away with it. Or you might not.

Why does DNA testing take so long? Even in high-profile cases, you hear that they're doing DNA tests, but that the results won't be known for days. What part of the process is the bottle-neck?

Asked by sonjalevesque about 11 years ago

I actually haven't done DNA analysis in a lot of years, and that was before STRs (the method mostly used now) but from what I pick up from the analysts, yes, it's not like TV where you wait in the hall for your DNA results. It's a time consuming process and at certain points there's no way to do it quickly. First they have to determine if DNA is present. Then they have to estimate about how much is present, to know if they need to 'amplify' the same or not or how much. Then the actual testing is done. During all this they also need to run positive and negative controls and do other quality control measures. There's also paperwork, lunch breaks and I doubt too many labs operate round the clock. Then of course there's first-in, first-out; your case doesn't get to jump the line, so how long it takes depends on how long that line is. At our state lab it used to be close to a year, but things have gotten much better and now it's more like weeks to months. If we want something more quickly, we can send it to a private lab which can promise us a one-week turnaround--for $1800 PER sample. But even disregarding queues and monetary considerations, even if the lab dropped everything else and worked overtime, it would still take a couple days.  

Oh, and in that vein: what IS the most creative way you've ever seen a criminal try to throw investigators off his scent??

Asked by DallasR about 11 years ago

We had a person borrow money from a kind elderly gentleman, then ask for more and beat him to death when he refused. The person then went home and mailed the victim a check, trying to show that the debt was being paid and there was no ill will. That's what passes for extreme cleverness in my neck of the woods.

And something else I always wondered. Just HOW MUCH of a fingerprint is unique to every human? If someone leaves only a partial print, e.g. a 1/4 of a thumbprint, is THAT unique to him and only him?

Asked by Sascha almost 11 years ago

Every part of a fingerprint is unique to the person. Whether the latent print has sufficient information to identify it to a person depends on its clarity and volume and the experience of the examiner. There's usually more activity around the center of the finger pad than at the edges or the tip, for example. But exactly how much of what type of information an examiner needs to make an identification--unfortunately there's no simple answer for that. Fingerprints aren't like DNA, there's no handy table of X allele plus Y allele times population data, so there's no neat way to quantify it. On this topic, my pet peeve: When characters on TV say "It's just a partial." Unless your perpetrator stood at the crime scene and rolled his fingertip over something, from one edge of the nail to the other, then EVERY latent print is a partial!

How soon after a person dies do you have to remove their organs so that they can still be transplanted to someone else? And does doing an autopsy damage any organs so as to make them no longer transplantable?

Asked by exconill about 11 years ago

I actually do not know that, sorry. I attend autopsies but only to observe, so I don't have anything to do with that--but I can tell you that the organs (except eyes or bones) are all dissected and examined so they would definitely be no longer transplantable. So organ harvesting is done before the autopsy. 

What's the worst mistake you've ever heard of a forensic scientist making at a crime scene?

Asked by JoyLuck almost 11 years ago

That's a tough one. I've had cops put tools back into pry marks to show that they fit and unload weapons to make them 'safe' (which is an okay idea under certain circumstances, but usually not). I did something really stupid just a few days ago--after we had painstakingly located some spent casings in thick grass, I put a marker down, took a picture, then took the marker and went back to my car to get an envelope  for the casings. Doh! Luckily another CSI standing there hadn't taken her eyes off them. A good 15 years ago at my lab an old-school trace evidence person took the shorts from a decomposed body and washed them in order to read the tag info...I remember the look of horror on the cops' faces when I had to tell them that all the hair and fiber and other trace evidence had been washed down the drain. Happily it didn't matter, the victim's boyfriend was convicted anyway.

I'm currently in the Navy and looking into taking college courses towards forensics but I do have a charge of accessory after the fact to a felony in 2002. (Closed file) Would this hinder my ability to obtain a career in this field? If so how badly?

Asked by jwalk almost 11 years ago

I honestly have no idea, and suspect it would depend on where you are applying--whatever the hiring agency's policies are. I'll ask my boss and get back to you.


OKAY! I finally asked my supervisor about this, and unfortunately the news is not too encouraging. If you were found guilty of a felony, you might have a real problem getting a job with a law enforcement agency. But just because the crime was a felony doesn't necessarily mean that was your charge, you could been found guilty of first degree misdemeanor or some lesser charge, and that might not preclude you from employment. Also, smaller agencies might be willing to waive this exclusion especially with military experience. And this is only in the event that you were convicted. If you were simply charged with the crime but not convicted, then most likely it isn't a problem at all. The only way to know for sure is to ask a few of the places you'd be interested in working at and see what they say.

Have you ever read Stiff by Mary Roach? I loved it, so interesting. What are your favorite non-fiction books about forensic anatomy?

Asked by Gwen about 11 years ago

No, I have not. I don't really have any favorites about forensic anatomy in particular, though I borrow Postmortem by Koehler & Wecht from my co-worker often. I also liked the books by Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Thomas Noguchi. My favorite forensics book is probably Colin Beavan's Fingerprints.

Do fingerprints contain DNA? And if so, then isn't fingerprinting kind of obsolete, since you can just test the DNA instead of the print?

Asked by Sascha almost 11 years ago

The skin cells sloughed off and left in a fingerprint contain DNA, but there's no guarantee that there will be a sufficient amount to obtain a DNA profile so it's a risk to go straight to DNA testing instead of developing the fingerprint. Besides, identical twins will have the same DNA but different fingerprints.

Even if testing doesn't produce a database MATCH, can you tell from a fingerprint or DNA whether it belongs to a man or woman, age, race, etc?

Asked by Luisa Henson almost 11 years ago

From a fingerprint, no. From DNA, not age but they can probably make estimates that the sample likely belongs to a particular racial profile. They can also look for markers from the Y chromosome to determine gender. However I don't know if they necessarily see all these loci in every analysis. Usually in DNA testing you have samples from the crime scene, the victim and the suspect, and we want to know if this sample matches either the victim or the suspect, period. So they most likely don't test for the other factors unless requested. But I am not a DNA analyst so I could be wrong--they could be able to tell all sorts of things that they don't put in the reports because it's not relevent to our particular case.

What it was like the first time you saw a dead body? (And had you seen one before working in forensics?)

Asked by Terrio about 11 years ago

I had seen dead bodies at funerals, of course, but other than that the first time was at an autopsy. It was strange because it was one of the rare cases in which the victim practically looked like he was sleeping. Almost always a dead person LOOKS dead, you can tell at a glance (something they rarely perfect on TV). But in this case it was a young man who had simply slipped on icy steps and hit the back of his head, so that was very sad too, to think that life could be lost so easily. Otherwise the autopsy isn't that horrible--there's no gushing blood, for instance, because the heart isn't pumping. It's the smell that gets you more than anything--it's not (most of the time) so much bad as strange. I think our bodies know more than our minds at that point and they know something is wrong. So the answer is I felt a little sick, but didn't actually get sick. We'd have lots of classes (police academy, nursing students) come through the coroner's office and while many would get a little queasy and have to go sit down, we rarely had anyone actually either throw up or pass out.

What degree and certification would I need become a forensic scientist? I'm currently majoring in criminology, but would switch if something else was better.

Asked by Alejada about 11 years ago

Again, titles and job requirements aren't uniform, so the only way to know is to call the crime labs in your area or whereever you might be interested in working and ask them. At the coroner's office we had to have at least a bachelor's in a natural science (this was before they had forensic science majors). At the police department where I am now, they only require a high school diploma but you get more points in the interviewing process for having a four year degree, so we all have one. You can also go on the websites for professional organizations such as the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and check out their job vacancy postings and see what the various positions require. Good luck.

Have you ever worked on a scene that you'd describe as the "perfect crime" in that the perp literally left NO trace of his presence?

Asked by Seth almost 11 years ago

It depends on how you define 'perfect'...if I can't tell the perpetrator has even been there then we wouldn't even know a crime has occurred, so I wouldn't know it was a perfect crime. If you mean 'perfect' in that the guy didn't leave any DNA or fingerprints that we found, sure, all the time. I've had plenty of burglaries in which it was apparent that a burglary occurred, but between humidity and surface conditions and what the perp had to touch in order to get the job done, I find no fingerprints at all (not even the people who live there). If you walk up and shoot someone (especially with a revolver, so no dropped casings) and walk away, you're not going to leave anything. Maybe a hair or a skin cell, but how would a CSI find that on a dirty street? Hence, a 'perfect' crime. Unless you get a parking ticket on the next block or a witness waiting for a pizza delivery happens to look out their window or there's an ATM camera you didn't know about.

I never understood how they establish time of death weeks after someone died. Are there biological processes that take place WEEKS after death with enough consistency to allow you to pinpoint time-of-death to within a few hours / days?

Asked by HammerPants about 11 years ago

I'm sorry but you'd really have to ask a pathologist, this is not my area. I imagine it would depend a lot on the individual situation--the environment, temperature, humidity. Insect activity can be pretty accurate. But I believe that pinpointing to a few hours after someone has been dead for weeks only happens on TV.

My girlfriend's condo was broken into, but the cops said it wasn't a big enough deal to check for fingerprints. Who makes that decision, and can I hire a forensic scientist privately to do that?

Asked by Marc about 11 years ago

I apologize to your girlfriend on behalf of the law enforcement community. No one should ever be told that their crime is not 'a big enough deal.' Even if the responding person thinks that, and I'm not saying we don't sometimes, you would think they'd have better sense than to say so. Unfortunately you had a lazy cop who didn't want to get his hands dirty--or, truly, that could be an unofficial policy taught to rookies by other lazy cops who don't want to get their hands dirty. OR it could be the policy of the latent prints department who want to limit their caseload so they won't accept cases that had a claim less than X amount of dollars. So it's hard to know where it came from, but it's still wrong. Anyone who's burglarizing a condo is burglarizing plenty of other places as well and it would benefit everyone in town if they were caught. It would only take ten or fifteen minutes to throw some powder on at least the point of entry and any smooth and glossy surfaces the burglar had to have touched (bearing in mind that knocked over is not the same as touched) such as a mirrored medicine cabinet or a glossy lacquered jewelry box. Now if she's positive the perpetrator is her ne'er do well stepson who lives there (so that it is technically not burglary) or she realizes the burglary happened 3 weeks ago and she didn't check her jewelry until now or some such circumstances as that, or if the door had been left standing open and the only item disturbed is fabric-covered so it won't hold prints, I can understand not processing for prints, but they still should explain that. That said, burglaries are my LEAST favorite task at my job, but that's because I'm lazy and hate getting my hands dirty.

Do you need a person's permission to collect and test his DNA? I saw a TV show where the cops offered a suspect a drink and cigarette to try and get his DNA.

Asked by Toby almost 11 years ago

The way I understand it--and I am NOT a lawyer!--is that technically you don't need permission to get a DNA sample (which is just a cotton swab rubbed on the inside of your cheek, doens't hurt) because the 5th amendment right against self-incrimination only applies to testimonial evidence. You can't be made to speak against yourself, but your fingerprints can be collected whether you like it or not so DNA should be the same. A sample can be collected from a discarded cup or can because garbage is abandoned property and can be taken by anyone. (Of course if you go through their trash cans, you can't prove that your suspect drank from that cup.)  I believe it might also be affected by whether the suspect was in custody or not at the time of collection. And it won't help to test an official sample later because if the first sample is excluded from trial, then anything collected as a result of that will be thrown out too (or so I understand from repeated viewings of Law and Order.) That said, at my agency the detectives always get the person to give consent or they get a search warrant from a judge, just so there are no issues when it gets to court. It's not worth the risk of going through all the work to get to court and then having it all thrown out, so I think those tricks are largely used only on TV. I can tell you I've never seen it happen.   

What do you think forensic and biology study will lead us in the next ten years

Asked by bob over 10 years ago

To ever-more sensitive DNA collection and analysis, I believe. The other growing fields will probably be the analysis and utilization of computers, cell phones and video surveillance.

I was wondering if I sent you a picture of a bone can tell me if its human or animal?

Asked by dee almost 11 years ago

I can try. I'm not an anthropologist, but we do have a field guide here showing the skeletons of many mammals and birds. We used to have a lot of 'found bones' calls at my agency--the area had a great deal of construction going on in the area and the digging would often turn up bones.

Have you become desensitized to death and violence? Are there still some crime scenes you see that make you sick because of how gory or depraved they are?

Asked by mbyrnes about 11 years ago

I don't consider myself desensitized. I still say "Oh, that's terrible," when I read about someone's death in the paper. I just don't get sick at the sight of bodily fluids. It seems like you either get used to that instantly, or you get into another line of work. It's not exactly the same thing as having a weak stomach--I've known guys who were homicide detectives for 20 years and still had a weak stomach. But when I'm standing at a crime scene there are so many things to think of (plus the overriding "Don't screw up!") that I don't have time to think about how awful this is. To me it would be more nervewracking to be an ER nurse and have someone's life depending on my instant decisions; at a crime scene, the crime has already been committed, so I couldn't have prevented it and I can't do anything about the fact that it happened. I think also that, without putting it into words, I tell myself that the person died right away. I get more upset at seeing the things the hospital did, the tubes, the halo brace, because I know the person must still have been alive for that to be done. Basically, if this work is going to upset you, do something else. It doesn't help anyone to be traumatized by your daily job.

what would change a corpse hair from highlighted blonde to an orange red in an african american?

Asked by shunlegg over 10 years ago

I don't know, unless the corpse lay in bleach or some other chemical that would react with the bleach in the hair. Dark hair can (I know from personal experience) turn kind of orangy when you try to lighten it. Otherwise hair does not change much either while living or dead.

what type of issues in the forensic science field are still lurking around that cause errors in assumptions or holding progress in a certain study behind

Asked by bob over 10 years ago

I can't think of anything that's industry-wide. Errors in assumptions can be made at any time by any body--like, I might assume you aren't going to get DNA off a gun trigger because I never have, while a brand-new person might assume you will get it regardless of any other factors because a textbook said it was possible, and we both might be wrong or right in that particular case but not others. So most errors would be made by assuming something can't be done, either because a tech or officer never had any luck with it or because they aren't up with the latest information, which will happen anywhere because no one can keep up with anything. As for study, the only thing holding that back is what's always been holding it back--time and money.  Most of us can barely keep up with our caseload, much less take on a research project, and most government budgets have been battered down to sustenence level. It's getting better as the economy improves, and there are major research projects underway through the various forensic organizations, FBI and NIJ.

What was your most challenging case?

Asked by bob over 10 years ago

That's a tough one, because unlike television I don't take it personally whether the case is resolved or not. Again unlike TV, I'm not in charge of the case, the detective is. I'm just a cog. I also don't deal with family or witnesses so I'm sort of emotionally once-removed from the trauma. So the most frustrating cases are those in which I can't find anything that helps. Say the victim and the suspect live in the same house so that any fingerprints or DNA of the suspect is to be expected and doesn't prove anything. Or we have no suspects and fingerprints and DNA at the scene don't match anyone in our system so that's not helping either. So then the most satisfying cases are those in which I find and analyze a piece of evidence that can tell us with certainty who was present or what occurred where. But either way I don't take it personally. I can't control what's there, only what I do with it. Sometimes you're lucky and sometimes you're not.  

I am currently working towards a B.A. in Biology. Would this be an acceptable major to go into forensics with?

Asked by Sammy C over 10 years ago

Absolutely! Even better if you could pair it with some coursework in forensics or maybe an internship.

Whose payroll are forensic scientists on, the coroner's office, or the police force?

Asked by MissPink about 11 years ago

Not to sound like a smart aleck, but you're on the payroll of whoever you work for--that can be the police department, the state police lab, the coroner's or medical examiner's office, the county sheriff's department, or an independent lab (usually doing DNA). You can also be a sworn officer or a civilian employee of same. Titles are not uniform. When I was at the coroner's office my title was forensic scientist because that was what the coroner said it was. At the police department I was an evidence specialist and then became a forensic specialist after I completed my training for fingerprint analysis. Your title is whatever your boss says it is.

Say a criminal parent drowns a child in the bathtub of their home, then buries the body (FL). How long could the body show evidence of drowning (foam in air passages, water in lungs, etc)before decomposition destroyed that evidence?

Asked by Meg over 10 years ago

Unfortunately, same answer as above--you really need a pathologist to answer that. But I will ask the M.E. investigator when she gets back to me on the BAC question!

Okay, she said:

Welllllll….. that one’s trickier. Drowning is often a ‘diagnosis of exclusion’ so you may NEVER see evidence of drowning, even moments after death (although we look for foam in the airway and fluid in the sinuses to corroborate investigation findings). The mere process of burial could potentially destroy any pertinent evidence that would exist in a drowning, even if decomp hasn’t begun by the time the body is “dug up”. Now in a child, we’d look for petechiae, bruises (that you can only see by removing the skin), torn frenulam, etc.…

How does 260mg/100g of liver tissue translate into for a BAC number? is is .26 or .026 or .0026? Got a bet going--thanks.

Asked by auntiev over 10 years ago

I do not know! So I asked the local M. E. investigator, who said:

It would be .26….

If this is liver, then I presume you’re talking about a decomp… and if you’re talking about a decomp, then keep in mind that the process of decomposition will raise the ethanol level in the body anyway so some physicians don’t even consider liver tissue entirely accurate when looking at alcohol.

What are the hours you work at your work?

Asked by Nikkie over 10 years ago

Right now I'm working 12 hour shifts, from 6 am to 6 pm, working out to 80 hours over 2 weeks. At the coroner's office I worked 7:30 to 4:30 and 8-12 on every other Saturday. When I started here at the police department we did 7:30-4:30 M-F. Then we went to, on opposite weeks, having one person work 10 am - 9 pm M-Th. Now there are more people so my 'shift partner' works noon to midnight. That way someone needs to be on overtime call only from midnight to 6 am. So in other words the hours will be determined by where you work, how many forensic people you have, how big the agency is and how determined they are to keep overtime to a minimum.

What's the most important thing forensic science can do today that it couldn't do 5 years ago?

Asked by ChrisnMike about 11 years ago

I would say 'touch DNA', which means get a DNA sample from the sweat, oils, and amino acids left by simply touching something. We now routinely collect swabs from steering wheels, gun triggers and tool handles. That doesn't mean they always have sufficient DNA to do anything with, but surprisingly often they do.

What type of classes did you need to take to become a Forensic scientist?

Asked by Nikkie over 10 years ago

If you see the two Q&As above, you can't go wrong with science classes. When I was in college they didn't have courses specifically in forensic science, so that wasn't an option. And different agencies will have different requirements, so you might want to go online and check out the different vacancies to get some idea of what requirements are out there.

I'm working on a thriller novel. Can a person frame someone else by setting up their own suicide to look like murder by using the other person's gun in the other person's house?

Asked by goodcraic2i6n almost 11 years ago

Let me get this straight--so Alex frames Bert by shooting himself (Alex) in Bert's house with Bert's gun? Kind of a drastic way to get back at someone, but certainly possible. Yes, initially it would not look good for Bert at all. However--and this is always the problem with trying to frame someone--what is Bert doing while this is happening? Alex can't be sure that Bert won't be getting a traffic ticket or stuck in an all-day meeting and therefore have an unbreakable alibi? The gun and the condition of the wound would have to be consistent with suicide (unless you do some Agatha Christie rubber-band type of arrangement) but that would not make it impossible for it to be homicide. Alex's fingerprints might be on the gun but that wouldn't rule out a murder (and it's so rare to get a fingerprint off a gun that he might decide not to worry about it). Please don't have Bert, upon discovery of the body, engage in the time honored but still silly tradition of picking up the murder weapon and then saying "I have no idea why I did that..." Human beings have an instinctive revulsion against touching anything associated with a dead body.

Does a neighbor see Alex enter Bert's house when Bert's not home? Is there any sign of forced entry? In other words, forensically there may not be much to say one way or the other--and that's very often true. Forensics will establish facts, but those facts might not be helpful. Forensically we can say Alex died of a gunshot wound from this gun, has gunshot residue on his hands (not suprising since he was in close proximity to a gunshot) and has no other wounds to indicate a struggle. That's about it. Deciding whether it's suicide or murder would likely spring from more traditional investigations--what was Alex doing there, did he know where the gun is, where was Bert, did Bert have a history of violence, did Alex have a history of mental instability, etc. etc.

I hope that helps!

What made you want to become a Forensic scientist?

Asked by Nikkie over 10 years ago

I loved mysteries but didn't want to be a cop. I don't really want to deal with people under stress on a daily basis. This job has enough variety to be interesting but enough routine to keep the homebody in me comfortable.

For trace comparison, how much glass from a crime scene would you recover in order for a controlled comparison to that found on a suspects?
6 or 12 and where from?

Thank You.

Asked by Mike over 10 years ago

I  don't know what you mean by 6 or 12, but I asked a former co-worker who used to analyze glass in an ICP (inductively coupled plasma) and he said the current state of the art for glass analysis is LA-ICP-MS (LA = laser ablation). This uses a laser to vaporize a small amount of sample and then runs it through both an ICP and a mass spec. (only about $300,000). I'm sure a small amount is a very small chip or sliver. I know when I did glass analysis on an old hot stage we only needed a tiny chip. He also said you should contact Florida International University because it is "the epicenter of glass analysis".

I'm in high school right now and I want to become a forensic scientist. Is there a list of courses I should be taking? Or can you recommend any courses?

Asked by Wendy N. over 10 years ago

You can't go wrong with as much biology and chemistry as you can get, plus some physics and math.

what college did you go to?

Asked by Nikkie over 10 years ago

I have a bachelor's in biology from Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Hi, I'm writing a research paper. How often do you have to present evidence in front of a jury as an expert witness and has it become more difficult as the popularity of crime dramas has increased?

Asked by Madison over 10 years ago

That depends on a lot of factors. In Cleveland I went to court a lot more often because--since it was a coroner's office--practically every case was a homicide and many went to trial. In Florida at the police department we have few homicides and a lot of burglaries and such, the types of crimes that tend to get pled out or dismissed. So I might go to court twice in one week and then not again for three months. And yes, the popularity of crime dramas has definitely made things more difficult because a jury expects to be 'wowed' with cool science in each and every case, and sometimes that just isn't there. It's not a bad thing that there's increased scrutiny on forensic testimony, of course, only that expectations can be unrealistic--in both directions. It can harm the prosecution's case if the jury expects DNA evidence in, say, a robbery case where someone walked in and walked out and didn't leave any DNA, and it can harm a defense's case if the jury has such faith in science that that evidence is all they give weight to. (Excuse the clunky grammar please.)

I'm 20 years old and studying physics.I now realize that my real passion is forensic science. Would it be possible for me to take a turn and pursue that with a master's degree? What suggestions can you make that will help me pursue forensics?

Asked by Lito about 10 years ago

Any science major is a good thing. The requirements for each lab vary, so if you have a particular location in which you wish to work, you might call all your potential employers and ask what the job requirements are. Then you can decide whether a science degree, a forensic science degree, a masters or a PhD would be best. Also check salaries and decide whether they are sufficient, and be prepared for a lot of competition.

What possible ramifications might occur if examiners are not impartial?

Asked by Felicia Redecker over 10 years ago

I don't know, but I would guess that it would be similar to any other profession--if you suffer because of their bias or incompetence or even over-eagerness, then you can ask for damages. The way I understand it--and I am not a lawyer--if your doctor says you have a cold and you actually have bronchitis and he gives you antibiotics and you get better, you don't have much of a case. If you tell him you're allergic to penicillin and he gives it to you anyway and you go into a coma, then you do.

So if an investigator doesn't like you and focuses the investigation on you while the real killer gets away, they may get a bad evaluation at work but it's doubtful that anyone could say they would absolutely have caught the real killer if they hadn't been distracted by you. So I doubt the family of the victim could bring civil charges. If your life has been affected,you lost your job, your spouse, neighbors egged your house, then you could probably sue the department for harassment. Every type of investigator has someone they answer to--a boss, a review board, a licensing board, an appeals court. A conviction could be overturned or vacated altogether.

If they focused on you but you really did do it, then you probably don't have a case, even if they only found you because they don't like you.

I'm guessing--and again this is an only-slightly-educated guess--that the deciding factor is how much their bias affected anything that occurred, overall.

And if by 'examiners' you meant medical examiners, specifically, then I would think the opportunity to affect the ultimate outcome would be even more dilute. An autopsy is photographed and witnessed by assistants and often (in homicides) law enforcement. Everything they put in their report can usually be double-checked after the fact. The extent to which they could skew results would be very limited. This is not to say medical examiner's can't be biased--supposedly Dr. Gerber (along with the local paper) biased the Cleveland jury pool against Dr. Sam Sheppard, but that didn't change anything about his testimony or the results of the autopsy. It did get the suspect a new trial, and did bring changes in the laws regarding pre-trial publicity.

Do you have to be a cop before you can become a CSI?

Asked by Miriam over 10 years ago

Not necessarily. I've never been a cop and neither have most of my co-workers. It completely depends on the agency you apply to--some require their CSIs to be sworn officers and some don't.

can you get fingerprints off a cigar or cigerillo?

Asked by Sam Berretti over 10 years ago

Yes. We would probably use ninhydrin or DFO to treat the wrapping.

Why is blood type only determined by the A and B proteins? Aren't there other proteins on the blood? Why specifically these 2 proteins?

Asked by Adina over 10 years ago

The A and B's are antigens on the surface of the blood cells. There are other antigens (like Rh) but the A & B's are the most important. Why, I couldn't tell you.

If ejaculate was wiped off a bathroom floor with a sock, and that bathroom was used by other people for showering (humidity/wet floor) and toilet use (bare feet), would the semen still be picked up? Would results be reliable?

Asked by Shahada about 10 years ago

As far as I know, 1) possibly and 2) yes. Since the area hasn't been specifically and thoroughly cleaned, yes it could still be picked up. And the DNA results should either be reliable or you wouldn't get any results at all. You wouldn't get results that look like someone else's DNA.

If you get sample of epithelial tissue from a crime scene, can you detect either it comes from a male or a female? How? Does karyotype involves in this differentiation?

Asked by Ian Hale-Carstairs over 10 years ago

I'm sure DNA analysts could determine male from female if we wished. Y-STR testing is used often when there's a mixture of male and female cells, because of course only male would have a Y chromosome. But I really couldn't give you details; I haven't done DNA testing in about 17 years. The two outside labs my agency has used in the past are: and Hope that helps!

I am 51 and for most of my life wanted to be a medical your professional opinion should I pursue this? thanks

Asked by brown over 10 years ago

Every county has only one medical examiner (or coroner). The other people doing autopsies are pathologists. They are all (almost always) doctors. So as long as you're okay with completing med school and then whatever residencies are required, it's never too late to change your life!

How difficult, or possible is it for a state lab to lift prints off a small baggie/residue found in an unattended purse,during a chaotic police raid, possibly handled by several, the prints needing to be good enough to be used as evidence in court?

Asked by pazley over 10 years ago

Wow, that's a really specific question. The answer is: you never know until you try. I don't have a lot of luck with plastic bags but my newer co-workers, who have a little more patience with fluorescent dyes than I do, often get good results. It doesn't matter to the fingerprint whether the purse was unattended or not and it doesn't matter how many people handled it, it matters how they handled it. As long as they picked it up by its very edge, they wouldn't harm anything. So it's perfectly possible to get a decent print off it, but I also would not be at all surprised if I didn't because, as I said, plastic bags are very hit-or-miss. Retrieving fingerprints is largely a matter of luck. That's why we never say never.

what causes bird foot injury to humans?

Asked by talha over 10 years ago

I'm sorry, I have absolutely no idea what that is.

Something really valuable got stolen from my hand bag . Is there a way that a forensic can be done for fingerprints so I can catch the culprit.

Asked by keshni over 10 years ago

See the first Q&A about fingerprints for more info, but purses (fabric, vinyl, leather) are not good surfaces for prints so you might be out of luck. Is there anything on or in the purse that they had to have touched (not just knuckled or pushed aside, actually gripped) that is smooth and glossy? And that hasn't been touched a number of times since? That might be a possibility.

What type of factors make it particularly hard to determine the time of death?

Asked by Lee over 10 years ago

Well, time and a moist environment definitely don't help, but I'm afraid that's a question for a pathologist. Sorry I can't be more help.

I'm working on my new crime novel, and I have question to ask. Is it possible to see,or how is possible to see if someone had sex with dead person (necrophillia).What's the procedure in the autopsy and what are traces of sexual abuse on corpse?

Asked by Boo Boo over 10 years ago

Again--pathologist's area of expertise, not mine. The foreign DNA should be simple enough to obtain but as for pre- or post-mortem...I would guess they might figure it out if there was tearing or damage that seemed post-mortem (no bleeding or bruising). Otherwise, I don't know. Sorry!

how to become a sientices

Asked by john over 10 years ago

Stay in school and take lots of science courses.

Do you think the so-called CSI effect has changed the way evidence is collected and the lab tests that are done?

Asked by Marcus about 10 years ago

Sorry--I answered this one earlier, I don't know why it didn't post. Anyway, I don't think it has changed anything about how we do things (assuming everyone was doing them properly in the first place). All it has done is increase the amount of paperwork that comes along with doing them. Which is a tedious thing, but not a bad thing. 


Asked by talha over 10 years ago

Please don't let your child surf the net unattended.

can I become a forensic scientist if I have dyslxyia

Asked by john over 10 years ago

I don't see why not. I have a friend who has dyslxyia and he became a schoolteacher.

Applying to a Forensic Scientist (DNA) position and alil freaked about the polygraph test. I'm content with who I am but any way you can spill the beans to what kinds of questions/things are asked? Like are family members called in?Just anxious. lol

Asked by LandRover about 10 years ago

They may ask if you've ever stolen from an employer, if you've taken illegal drugs, and if you've ever betrayed someone's trust. Answers have to be 'yes' or 'no' but they may let you explain. Just tell the truth and don't worry about it, it's perfectly normal to be nervous. And if they say some answers came up 'deceptive' you can dispute the point. During my polygraph, the blood pressure cuff was so tight it felt like it was cutting off my arm, so towards the middle I was in so much pain I think that affected the results. Then it began to go numb and the pain eased so there was a difference in the reading. So if you disagree with the results, go ahead and say so. 

They'll let you know if they're going to contact family or friends. 

Re: semen stains on men's boxer-brief...Would the same size/area of garment stain be present after masturbation as for stain after intercourse without showering? Way to tell if vag secretions are present as well?

Asked by tinamh over 10 years ago

Wow, that's another really specific one...I don't see a way to tell whether the stain would be the same size, that would depend on time elapsed, intervening activity and personal habits. There is definitely a way to separate male from female cells however, so yes DNA analysis would identify both parties.

can I become a forensic scientist if I am doing betc science

Asked by john over 10 years ago

I'm sorry, I don't know what betc science is.

Would you often go home smelling like a cadaver? And health-wise, is a morgue extremely STERILE, or is it like a hospital i.e. just a cesspool of germs waiting to infect?

Asked by Jeremy about 10 years ago

I'm sure I did. I actually don't have a good sense of smell, so it probably did get into my clothes and hair more than I realized. You keep smelling it yourself because it gets stuck on your nose hairs (according to popular wisdom) so a whiff comes back to you for a few hours afterward. 

ME and Coroner's autopsy rooms are very clean, but that is not the same as being sterile. Except for items used to collect samples for DNA analysis, sterility is not really such a factor--you can't infect the patient. They do take steps to keep from infecting the staff, of course. No food or drinks in the autopsy room, using 'clean' pens and 'dirty' pens, gloves and aprons. I've never heard of anyone catching any loathsome diseases from working there. 

If someone was murdered and the body left exposed to the elements for a three or four days then buried it, how would the body appear if dug up a week or so later? Bloated? Would the insect larvae be alive? Is it easy to tell what happened?

Asked by steve over 10 years ago

Sorry--I posted an answer to this but somehow it's not here now so...I'll answer again. This is really a question for a pathologist. I can tell you that there is a huge difference between bodies that are exposed and bodies or even parts of bodies that are not, so the pathogist may be able to tell that it was exposed first. Whether larvae would still be alive probably depends on temperature and how deeply the body had been buried.  

At a crime scene, how long do prints last if not disturbed?

Asked by Kevin about 10 years ago

That depends a great deal on temperature and humidity. Assuming it's a good print in the first place, plenty of sweat and oils on the skin and a nice non-porous surface like glass or marble--then if the temperature is a bit on the coolish side with a little bit of humidity but not too much and above all steady, then the print can last for years. 

if I have trouble writing and reading can I stile be a forensic scientists.

Asked by john over 10 years ago

See above answer.

Do you have a graduate degree? Is it true that nobody hires Ph.Ds for forensic positions? Have you met or dealt with forensic chemists?

Asked by Lindsey over 10 years ago

No, I have a BS in Biology, though one of my co-workers has a Master's in Forensic Science. PhDs are often hired for DNA work but yes, probably not for the average forensic position just because they would probably want a higher salary.

And yes, I knew a number of forensic chemists at the coroner's office because they would analyze the blood, urine and gastric on all deceased. They had BS's in chemistry. I don't know if they have forensic chemistry majors now, but they didn't then. At other labs chemists do all the drug testing on suspected substances.

Hope that helps!

If a victim was hit by someone wearing a ring could the letters on the ring leave behind a mark in the bone? (A legible one)

Asked by Jay A about 10 years ago

You'd really have to ask a pathologist or osteopath but I would very much doubt it--even at points where the bone is close to the skin (like the back of the hand) the skin would still provide too much cushioning. It would leave a bruise in the shape of the ring but probably not clear enough to be legible. 

Hello, I was just wondering for my future, if I were to be married to a man in the military would that hurt my chances of getting a job as a forensic scientist? Or would i be able to transfer to a different place?

Asked by Halie over 10 years ago

I don't think it would hurt your chances as a forensic scientist any more than it would hurt your chances in any other profession, if a potential employer would be concerned that you might leave in a couple years. Almost all agencies are singular--I mean my city police department is just my city, and the state police is just our state--so there couldn't really be 'transfers' from one agency to another. It might be possible at a federal agency like the FBI, but that would be for agents--their forensic personnel are all contained in one or two places, so far as I know. Your best bet would be to talk to people who have the specific job you want, and ask them.

Is there a field or duty/job where a forensic scientist collects evidence from a crime scene, helps detectives at the crime scene while also doing the lab work for processing DNA and other evidence as well as reconstruction of crime scenes?

Asked by Jared about 10 years ago

Sure, mine. Well, not DNA--I believe DNA is done by specialists who are kept busy enough that they don't have other duties. If your lab doesn't have enough personnel or casework for DNA then it would be sent to another lab. But otherwise, how general or specialized your casework is depends on the size of the agency/lab. If it's small, you do everything. If you have lots of personnel, they can specialize. 

I was thinking about doing a course on sciences and forensics but just wondered what that would entail? If you know, could you tell me please?

Asked by Lauren about 10 years ago

It depends on what the course is about, and the syllabus or course handbook should give a good description. I'm sure the teacher or professor is available for you to ask for more details. Good luck!

re: long wait. We, including the cops, DA know who the shooter was. we have supposedly been waiting for over a year for forensics to come in to determine if it was self defense or not. does that change answer.

Asked by tiredofwaiting over 9 years ago

Sorry, I didn't realize the first time you weren't talking about DNA. I couldn't begin to guess what the holdup is. This sounds like they need a crime scene reconstruction, which would take all the available information to try to reconstruct the sequence of the crime. If the case gets passed to experts in different fields (ballistics, DNA, etc.) then it could take quite some time, and I have no idea how backed up the average good reconstructionist might be. I'm sorry I can't help. The DA or the cops would have to actually talk to the forensic person and ask. 

I just noticed today that urine has been splattered all over my window from the outside. My room is reaping of urine odor as well. It's humid today. How would I collect this for evidence? I think it's been there for a few days now.

Asked by Leesa about 9 years ago

Use 2 clean cotton swabs--try using just the swabs first, and if the drops just flake off, then you can moisten the swab with (preferably sterile) water. Or do it first thing in the morning when the window is damp with dew. Put the swabs in a clean envelope or small box, something NOT air tight.

have you meant kathy reiches she is an isperation to me

Asked by shel over 9 years ago

I have not, but I would love to. 

I am currently in a relationship with a man that was convicted of a felony about 4 years ago. How does this affect me as a forensics student?

Asked by Rachael over 9 years ago

As far as I know, it doesn't. As long as YOU weren't convicted of a felony.

Is there anything about your field that you don't like?

I heard that forensic scientist do not follow the case through to the end. Is that true and has that ever bothered you?

Asked by Renee over 9 years ago

Again, I don't like the stress of people asking for the impossible, then assuming you aren't delivering it because you're lazy. There are tons of cases I worked, especially at the coroner's office, where I never found out what happened--unless I'm called to testify in the trial, I have no idea if the killer was ever caught or if the case remains unsolved. The cops would tell me if I asked, but I forget to ask because by then there's new cases. There are fingerprint hits I've made where the person wasn't arrested, and I don't know if it's because the person had a good reason to be in the home, or if the prosecutor got cold feet, or whatever. I could probably find out if I tracked down the detective in charge and reminded them of the exact case, etc., but who has that kind of time? Then there are other cases that I do so much work on, go through a trial, and I know everything about them.

Hi! I was wondering, what is your favorite type of evidence to analyze?

Asked by Daisy76 over 8 years ago

Clothing is kind of interesting because there's so much variety to it and it can give you a lot of information, with blood, gunshot residue and holes made by weapons. I also enjoyed working with fibers because there is a lot of variety to them as well, and they're colorful, but often I'd have way too many and then it would get tedious. No one examines fibers any more, they're not unique enough.

If a glass door is slammed what side does the glass fall on

Asked by Dave about 10 years ago

I have no idea. If a piece of glass is shot or hit with something, most of the glass should move in the direction of the force with some flying back toward the source. But I would think the entire piece is vibrating with a slammed door, so I really have no idea. 

If a vehicle is submerged in non clean lake for 3 weeks with windows open. Can police detect fingerprints

Asked by Jinu18 almost 10 years ago

Possibly. Probably unlikely, but possibly. We would use Small Particle Reagent on a wet car as soon as it was removed from the lake.

how typical is it to take a year or more for forensic results to be turned over to a DA? What can those waiting assume from the long wait.

Asked by Bob over 9 years ago

Repeat, see above. 

what do you need as in doctorites or other thing to become a forensic anthropologist

Asked by shel over 9 years ago

I'm afraid I don't have any idea. I've never met one, only forensic anthropologists. At the coroner's office our forensic anthropologist was a professor at Kent State and would come up and give a report on our skeletal remains when requested. 

how typical is it to take a year or more for forensic results to be turned over to a DA? What can those waiting assume from the long wait.

Asked by tiredofwaiting over 9 years ago

How long it takes to get DNA results depends entirely on where you are sending them and how backed up they are. Our state lab used to take at least 6 months, but things have improved and now it is only a few months. However if we have a homicide that really needs quicker answers, sometimes they can do that. If the police department or state attorney's office are willing to pay (probably at least a grand. sometimes per sample) the samples can be sent to a private lab that can get results in as little as three days. It's expensive, but it also has to be a lab that is accredited and that the agencies trust. You can't assume anything from a long wait other than that the lab is backed up. They might have an overwhelming amount of cases, they might not have enough manpower, or they might not be efficiently run. It's impossible to guess. 

Hey an ak47 assault rifle fired at close range, what are the possibilities of no blood spatter.

Asked by Jay over 9 years ago

How many shots and do they exit the body?

I have been very interested in forensic science for awhile, but not sure if that is completely what I want to go to graduate school for. How did you get into this field. What are other career I could go into that are related with being a bio major?

Asked by Nat Weber almost 10 years ago

I had a bachelor's degree in biology when I applied to the coroner's office in 1998. They required a degree in one of the natural sciences, and there were no forensic science degrees back then. Only you can decide what you want to go to graduate school for, but as for career requirements you might look at the American Academy of Forensic Science and the International Association for Identification and look at their job vacancy postings to see what they require. As for other degrees with a bio major, there are many private labs for DNA, drug testing, paternity testing, water and food standards analysis, etc. as well as hospital labs that might require. Again, look at job vacancy postings in all these areas--they should be easily found online and they should state the educational requirements. It will also let you see in what areas more jobs are available. 

How can you tell if a body has been frozen at the time of death and then moved to where it was actually found.

Asked by Brian Lu almost 10 years ago

That's actually two different issues. Moving a body can be determined by lividity--the blood pools at the lowest points of the body and becomes fixed, so if the lividity is not consistent with the position of the body, you can tell it was moved. I believe a pathologist would be able to see the signs that a body had been frozen (provided of course it hasn't completely decomposed by the time it's discovered) but I couldn't tell you what they are. 

can one work as both forensic archaeologist and pathologist too ?

Asked by over 9 years ago

I don't see why not. I'm sure a coroner's or medical examiner's would love to have a pathologist trained in excavating buried bodies and crime scenes. However if you want to work as a pathologist but also do archaology work for other agencies or take leaves to work on archaeological digs, you'd have to work for an agency that would be okay with you working as a pathologist part time. 

Have you ever testified in court?
I believe you have answered this question before but I could not find it posted.

Asked by Renee over 9 years ago

Yes, about 60 times, and I may be going again this week. It's one of those 'doesn't rain but pours' kind of things. I might go twice in one week and then not again for months. It's incredibly frustrating, time-consuming, nerve-wracking and super not fun. You have no control over anything, not when you have to be there, not how long you have to be on the stand, not what kind of questions you'll be asked, and you get no warning of any of these things beforehand.

Do you use helminthic parasites as a way of proving sexual crimes if the crime took place a long time ago?

Asked by Jenifer over 9 years ago

I'm sorry, I haven't had any experience with that.

How do you determine if a body that was found in the water died from drowning or from another cause?

Asked by Matthew about 9 years ago

That's a determination a pathologist is going to make, not me. But they have told me that drowning is sort of a process-of-elimination conclusion, since there may or may not be water in the lungs whether or not the person died of drowning.Sorry I can't be more help!

Any advice for someone trying to go into forensics? I believe I want to be in a lab analyzing evidence.

Asked by Renee over 9 years ago

Take all the science courses you can and any kind of forensic-oriented laboratory courses.

How has the evolution of forensic science affected the amount of cases being solved and how they are solved?

Asked by Danielle over 8 years ago

That's hard to say because I only know what goes on at my particular agency, and cases are solved in all different ways--by fingerprints, by pawning stolen goods, by eyewitness testimony, through the criminal's use of electronic devices. I think more cases are solved today because there have been advances in all areas, because the world has gotten a little smaller and because the general public is more aware of criminal activity.

do you have any advice for someone who's interesting in forensic science field?

Asked by Soph over 8 years ago

Yes, take all the science classes you can and try to visit local labs to see what the job is really like.

What skills and abilities do you believe are needed for a forensics career?

Asked by Renee over 9 years ago

As I said above, patience, attention to detail, a tolerance for the more tedious parts of the job, and an affinity for science. A strong stomach helps but I knew guys who were homicide detectives for twenty years and still got queasy at the smell of a dead body, so don't let that stop you.

My daughter was murdered and possibly dismembered. We have not found her yet. Obviously What was done to her has the potential to help us find her. Because of markings on her found jawbone, we believe he dismembered her. How long would that take?

Asked by Kimberlyn over 9 years ago

I am so sorry for your loss. I'm afraid I have no idea how long it would take to dismember a body. That would probably depend upon the extent of the dismemberment and the tools used.

What do you find is the easiest part of your job? The hardest?

Asked by Nicole over 8 years ago

School project?

All our jobs vary wildly, so what's easy and hard for me might be completely different for, say, a toxicologist or medicolegal death investigator. For me I would say the easiest is working with fingerprints in the office. It's tedious and time consuming, but not hard. The hardest part is testifying in court, which is inconvenient, nerve-wracking and often insulting on a number of levels.

What kind of writing do you do in your career as a forensic analyst? Evidence logs, what kinds of reports, etc?

Asked by Amanda over 8 years ago

We have worksheets or notebooks that we use to make notes at the scene, and we have worksheets that we sometimes use in the lab if we want to. Then the 'official' report, which is usually fairly simple, is typed into our computer system so that everyone in the department can view results or print it out for the attorneys. It will outline everything we did and any results obtained.

How much experience do you have?
Also, What is the best and hardest part of your job?

Asked by Renee over 9 years ago

I've worked in forensics since 1994. The best part of the job is making a fingerprint 'hit' that tells us who the bad guy is, or working a crime scene and finding or concluding something that helps explain what happened there. The worst part is being stressed by detectives or attorneys who want all the answers right now and don't understand what they're asking for, or testifying in court and having no idea what's going to be thrown at you.

Exactly how does lumimol work?

Asked by Jailah over 9 years ago

I couldn't tell you the exact chemistry, but it reacts with the iron present in hemoglobin to indicate blood. However it also reacts with other oxidizing agents such as copper and horseradish. Unlike what you see on TV, we don't spray luminol and then use a UV light or some such thing. We make the room as dark as possible, spending a lot of time taping material over windows and door cracks and 'ready' lights, then spray the luminol.or Bluestar. It will glow on its own without any additional equipment, and won't last long. It can be photographed but that's a bit of work. It won't stain or harm anything.

I will be going to college for Forensics soon and still kind of confused on what classes i should take. Should i strive for a bachelor's in chemistry or forensic science cause i think i read somewhere you don't really need forensic classes?

Asked by Dave almost 9 years ago

That depends on where you want to work and what kind of work you want to do. If you want to be a DNA analyst, take biology and biochemistry and don't worry so much about general forensics. If you want to work crime scenes, then you might want a forensic sciences program. The best way to know is to call places you might want to work at--say your dream jobs, even if they're in another state--and ask them what they require and what they look for. That's the only way to know for sure.

Do you ever read about forensics investigations in the news and think they're doing something improperly, or drawing unfounded conclusions?

Asked by singher over 9 years ago

No, because simply from a news article you have no idea of everything that is going on. The officers might not be (should not be) telling reporters everything they know, in order to weed out truthful and untruthful witnesses. They're also not going to tell reporters (and if they did the reporters wouldn't write it) every last little boring tedious detail of everything they do. And information often gets garbled in translation, from crime scene to cops, from cops to the information officer, from the info officer to the press release, from the press release to the news article, from the neighbor looking over their fence and then talking to the reporter. That's just human.

Lots of time the story I get from Dispatch when they first call me turns out to be a totally different thing when I get there.

Hello! My name is Emily and I am doing a science fair project called "Is It Blood? I am testing different items with Hemastixs to see if they give a false positive result. How would these results be helpful to a forensic scientist?

Asked by Emily Earnhardt over 8 years ago

it is always helpful to know what will give a false positive result. Hemastix will also react with a few other substances, such as vomit for one. That's why it's called a prelimary test and not a confirmatory test. Good job!

i am currently studying a major in molecular biology with a minor in sociology with an emphasis in criminal justice. i would like to know if i am headed in the right direction to pursue a career as a forensic scientist

Asked by Gage Peters almost 10 years ago

Just as a guess, it seems to me that molecular biology and sociology are pretty far apart, career-wise. With molecular biology I would expect you to go into DNA or some other kind of specialized analysis--which would be fabulous, but I doubt that you would also be doing crime scenes. My question is, would you like to work mostly in a lab or mostly at crime scenes? If mostly in a lab, then I think you are on the right track. The best way to know is to contact places you would like to work and ask them what their requirements are. Go for a tour if you can. This is also a great way to network and meet people. But most importantly, every agency will have different preferences based on their functions and positions. Best of luck!!

Is there any job security in your field? Have you worked in any other fields of forensics? What were they like?

Asked by Renee over 9 years ago

I talked about what the coroner's office was like above. There's great job security if, as in any other field, you do a good job, you're fair and reasonable, you are empathetic to victims and suspects and other co-workers, and you're reliable and steady. People have to be able to depend on you.

Do you have to be extremely smart to be a forensic scientist or is it more learning how everything works?

Asked by Kristen Scott over 9 years ago

Oh yes, I'm extremely smart. Just kidding! No, you don't have to be some kind of friggin' genius like you see on TV. You just have to be reasonably intelligent, reasonably sensible, reasonably observant, and have a good amount of attention to detail, respect for rules, and patience. It also helps to be pleasant and able to get along with people. Even though most of our victims are dead, the families, witnesses, cops and detectives are very much alive and under a lot of stress.

Hi, I'm a criminal justice major and we are supposed to interview someone in the field we want to go in. many of my questions have been answered but I have a few more.
How did you get your jobs? Connections? Any specific procedure? Thank you

Asked by Renee over 9 years ago

I've had two jobs in forensics and didn't have connections to get either. I didn't get a number of jobs because they were already planning to hire someone's brother-in-law, but I eventually got a position. The procedure is whatever the agency requires and they will all be different, so you need to check out the websites of any agency you would like to apply to. They will usually have a clearly defined process for application.

Does being an attractive female help or hurt your professional ability to carry out your assignments as a CSI?

Asked by Bill W. over 9 years ago

As much or as little as it does in any other profession. At least half if not most forensic techs are female, so it's not that uncommon to have attractive ones. Many moons ago I used to be one, so I know that sometimes it's helpful to have people open doors for you, and sometimes it's a royal pain in the neck.

Do you have to enter the police force before you want to become forensic scientist?

Asked by nana about 9 years ago

That depends on the requirements of the agency you work for. Some will require you to go through the police academy, many won't.

What is the most important piece of evidence at a crime scene?

Asked by Andrew over 8 years ago

Whatever points conclusively to the identity of the perpetrator. That could be a fingerprint or DNA or some personal item they used or their picture on a surveillance video.

I am writing a mystery. I need to know how long it would take a body to turn into a skeleton if it was locked in a soundproof windowless recording studio in a bungalow on the beach in Montauk NY. Thank you!!!

Asked by Kathleen Bridge over 9 years ago

Wow, that's specific. Unfortunately I can't really tell you--that's more of a pathology question. It takes a lot longer when the body is not exposed to the elements, so I would think at least a few years. I had a buried body that still had quite a bit of flesh after 2 years. I had a body in an attic that was a skeleton where it had been exposed and still had flesh where it had been wrapped in plastic after 3 years. The process will also be affected by temperature, so if the building is not heated then the heating/cooling cycle of the seasons will make it go slightly faster than if it were at a nice consistent A/C setting. Also if the room is very well sealed and the atmosphere is not very humid, the body might turn into a mummy instead of a skeleton. 

At an outdoor crime scene, how damaging is rain? Will it wash away physical and biological evidence, or make collecting fingerprints and DNA harder? And does covering the scene with a tarp prevent that entirely or only partially?

Asked by Cassandra over 9 years ago

Yes, rain can be extremely damaging, if the evidence is something that can be washed away, like blood, fibers, fingerprints, small bits of anything, even bullet casings. Something permanent like a bullet hole, not so much. It depends on what the evidence is and how hard it rains. A (fresh!) tarp can help unless it's something wet, like blood spatter, that a tarp would smear.

Say that there was a crime scene with trama to the head and bleeding from the head and specialist forgot to take the temperature of that body, what is another way to determine the time of death?

Asked by bryce over 9 years ago

Time of death is not determined as precisely as it is on television, I know, and they often use a number of factors to make an estimate such as when the person was seen last, mail piling up at the door, rigor mortis, lividity, etc. But honestly a pathologist could answer that question much more accurately than I could. They are the ones that determine TOD.

I have an interview coming up for forensic scientist,( chemistry), position with the DPS. I have a feeling that this might be different than an average interview.Can you offer any guidance or advice,please ?

Asked by d3ak almost 10 years ago

If you could find out what kind of analyses they do, then be sure to point out your experience with that equipment, that would probably be helpful. They might have a summary online, or detailed in the job description, or if you know anyone who might work with them either at the lab or as a law enforcement officer you could ask them. Know what they mean by chain of custody. Good luck!!

Where do you see forensic science in the next ten years?

Asked by Mariana over 9 years ago

DNA and fingerprints will still be the main forms of identification, but the focus on video, computers, social media and phone evidence will continue to expand. Anything that's not absolutely yes or no such as gunshot residue, fibers, maybe bitemarks will be discontinued.

I want to become a crime scene investigator but I'm not sure how to get going on that, I am in college study in criminal justice, what should I do? Do I have to become a place officer? And what would disqualify me from becoming a csi? Thank you!

Asked by Joy keirstead over 9 years ago

Every agency--police departments, M.E. offices, state police--has their own rules and requirements. The best thing to do is check the websites or contact the agencies where you'd like to work and ask them.

You just answered my question, was looking into being a forensic technician, analyzing the bodies at the scene, maybe even look at them after. Would you think a major in biology be a smart move? Minor in criminology? Along those lines?

Asked by Taylor M almost 9 years ago

If you're working with the bodies then you'd probably be a medicolegal death investigator. You might want to check out their organization: this page: of luck!

Do you plan on trying to get a job in another field of forensics in the future?

Asked by Renee over 9 years ago

No, I'm happy where I am.

What do you think is the most essential invention in forensic science for solving crimes?

Asked by Danielle over 8 years ago

1) The camera.2) Fingerprint science. 3) DNA analysis.

if you find dog hair at a crime scene, is it possible to tell what kind of dog it came from?

Asked by dani over 8 years ago

Yes, if you could find a microscopic hair analyst with a library of dog breed hairs, they could narrow the breed down. And if you got a DNA sample from the actual dog then DNA analysis could tie it to that specific dog.

If I would like to work as a Forensic Scientist, how many years will it takes me and in what am i going to study?

Asked by Ally over 9 years ago

That depends entirely on where you want to work and what they require. At the coroner's office they required a bachelor's degree in one of the natural sciences like biology or chemistry. Where I work now, they only require a high school diploma, but give extra points in the interviewing process for higher education so we all have at least a bachelor's. If you want to do DNA work in a laboratory they will probably want you to have a master's or PhD in genetics. If you want to do crime scene work they might want an associate's or bachelor's in forensic science. So there is no one simple answer to that question.

how can you identify from a random dna sample that the sample belongs to a human being, not an animal? lets say that you find a DNA sample and now you have to identify that this dna sample is of a human or an animal or cannot be classified at all

Asked by Rabi about 9 years ago

I actually don't know how a DNA analyst tells human from animal DNA, but I don't think it's very difficult. We have an easy field test called Hexagon OBTI that can tell animal from human blood in a matter of minutes.

How long can GSR last on clothing or on a person?

Asked by Jailah over 9 years ago

On the shooter's hands, not very long. When we did GSR testing we would not do it if more than 4 hours had elapsed since the shooting. On clothing, it could depend on the type of material and how far away the item was--if it's a smooth fabric it would probably brush right off, but a more fuzzy type of thick material might get some particles stuck in it.

That was talking about primer residue. Gunpowder residue is bigger, heavier, and hot so it can fuse to some fibers or get 'stuck' to the item by the victim's blood.

Thank you so much for responding so fast. I really appreciate it. I have only a few more questions.

Are there any shows that you watch that are more accurate and show what forensic scientist really do?

Asked by Renee over 9 years ago

I don't really watch any except the ones on the ID channel, and those are mostly about the investigation. But when they do mention forensic evidence, they're accurate.

When examining a fingerprint, do you lift the print first then swab for DNA?

Asked by Renee over 9 years ago

That's always a good question. Black powder or superglue will not ruin the DNA, so we can photograph the print and then swab for DNA. Usually we're swabbing areas that we wouldn't normally be able to get a print from (like textured steering wheels or rough gun grips or the edge of a plastic bottle that someone drank from) so we do one or the other.

What type of hours do you work? What made you go into the filed of Forensic Science and what is your typical day like?

Asked by catdoglover57 over 8 years ago

I work 4 10 hour days, but previously I've worked 8-5 Mon-Fri and on rotating 12 hour shifts from 6 am to 6 pm. It all depends on what's needed. I love investigation but didn't want to be a cop. A typical day depends entirely on where you work and what you do. If you do only crime scenes, you might have to go out to a car accident, a suicide and an industrial accident. If you're a DNA analyst, you'll spend all day in the lab with test tubes. If you're a fingerprint examiner like me, you might spend 8 hours in front of a computer looking at fingerprints. At a smaller department like mine you might do all three things in one day. Or any of the above might spend all day sitting at the courthouse waiting to testify. So there really is no such thing as a typical day.

What is your typical day like?

Asked by Renee over 9 years ago

When I was at the coroner's office, a typical day would be examining victim's clothing from a homicide or suicide, typing blood samples and testing gunshot residue samples. Now at the police department, a typical day is spent in front of the computer putting in latent prints that the officers or I have lifted from items and searching for a match, or checking past searches of new people put in the system. Then I might go out to process a burglary scene.

Hello! I'm writing a career paper for college about forensic scientists. I was wondering if I could interview you and ask a few questions? My email is Thank you!

Asked by Danielle B over 8 years ago

See above.

Approximately how many cases do you think you have solved in the last year?

Asked by Danielle over 8 years ago

I don't solve cases. Detectives solve cases. I suppose I actually 'solve' them when I get a fingerprint hit for a burglary where there would have been no other way to ever identify the burglar. That happens maybe 5-10 times a year. Otherwise forensic science is usually confirming or eliminating factors that are already suspected, and often provides information (say, what caliber of gun was used or where the burglar got into the house) that doesn't point to the identity of the criminal but adds details to the overall event.

Hi I wounder how far has sience in forensics reached. Do you today have the ability to se emosional marks in the air? Strong emosions can leave a mark. like a fight that some sensetiv people can feel in a room even after it took place.

Asked by Jenifer over 9 years ago

I have never heard of that.

Two questions, really :) If a character shoots someone who later gets away and there is blood left in the snow, would that blood be of any use for a DNA analysis? And if so how should it be collected?

Asked by Kylie Brant over 8 years ago

Sorry I didn't answer this sooner! I'm sure the blood could be used for DNA analysis, and it should be collected in a sterile vial or bottle. But then it would need to be refrigerated.

Girl claims rape, boy says didn't happen. DNA came back inconclusive from rape kit except something in girls underwear they say is boys. How is that possible when nothing was discovered on girls body of boys, anywhere?

Asked by Momma over 8 years ago

Because human bodies are in constant flux. Cells slough off, fluids wash out other fluids, but a stain on a piece of cloth doesn't change.

Is there technology that you use in your lab or technology that you have heard of that you find interesting?

Asked by Renee over 9 years ago

I'm very interested now in phone number 'spoofing' that the telephone scammers use to call us, but the technology is a little beyond my ken. Actually a lot beyond my ken. I have a co-worker who could explain it but we never have time.

I asked my question incorrectly. My son is going on trial for raping his ex wife. She wouldn't let him have most of his clothes back. Could she wet his dirty undies and smear old sperm on herself before a rape kit?
His sperm was found on her thigh.

Asked by Janet over 9 years ago

Unless he actually ejaculated in his underwear, I don't see why there would be sperm in underwear he simply wore. But maybe that's one of those questions about men I'd just rather not know! I'm also not sure that semen would go back into solution when re-wetted like sugar or salt. So it might be possible, for all I know, but you'd probably have to ask a serologist or DNA technician. I'm sorry I can't be more help.

Has anyone ever done 3D construction of a skull from an MRI/CT of a living person with a 3D printer then had a blinded facial reconstruction done from the model to test accuracy of the procedure?

Asked by Andy over 8 years ago

I'm sorry but I have absolutely no idea. We don't have anything like those types of facilities where I work.

Can a 9mm use 38 bullets

Asked by Dianna over 8 years ago

No. A .357 can shoot .38 bullets (not vice versa, or the gun will blow up) but 9mm can't shoot 38 bullets because they're shaped a little differently. It's confusing because what we call .38 caliber are actually .357, and 9mm is actually .380--in size, but a 9mm gun cannot shoot .380 bullets. You would have to read the forensic report carefully and maybe ask for clarification. I've never worked in ballistics, so perhaps there's a chance that the report is saying that the projectile had a .380 diameter, not that it was a .380 bullet, in which case it could have come from a 9mm gun?

Can a forensic anthropologist tell from skeletal cremains if the individual had been sexually assaulted?

Asked by Avialane over 8 years ago

I don't know. I wouldn't think so, but that's really not my area.

where could i go to ask a question about a bone that was found that resembles a femur?

Asked by JayBee about 9 years ago

The coroner's or medical examiners office, or find a college with an anthropology major and ask one of the professors.

When did you know that forensics was for you?

Asked by Renee over 9 years ago

After I spent 10 years as a secretary, bored out of my mind. I always liked mysteries and I liked science, but I never really thought about putting them together until long after my first round at college.

If the results from a forensic report cums back an says that 501through 507 was fired from the same gun which is a 9mm an then it says 508 and 509 that was removed from the victim caliber 38 class bullet is this saying that there was more than one gu

Asked by Dianna over 8 years ago

See above answer.

Hello Ms. Lisa Black! I am a highschool student doing a research project and was wondering if you have time for questions i need for my assignment due this Friday 11/13/15
My email is:
I really hope to hear from you soon!!

Asked by Lillian Nguyen over 8 years ago

Okay, I am emailing you.

What is the first thing you look for at a crime scene?

Asked by Lilly123 over 8 years ago

It depends on the crime, but in general I guess you look for how the perpetrator got in, how they got out, and what they disturbed while they were there. Then I look for what we could get information from (such as surfaces that they had to touch that are smooth and glossy and might have prints, whether they left blood or bodily fluids behind that could be tested, whether they wrote something or used something that could point to their identity, etc.).

Is it possible to get someone else's DNA on underwear from a toilet seat... As in touching bowl when sitting?

Asked by Momma over 8 years ago

If there was semen on the toilet seat and it was still wet and sticky enough to stick to skin and then be transferred to underwear, then I suppose it would be possible.

Hi Ms. Lisa. My name is Candace and I really want to become a forensic scientist. How long does it take and is it worth it? I've spent all my life in a morgue. I love it all and does it pays well?

Asked by Candace Mckenzie over 8 years ago

let me try to answer these one by one:You will need at least a 4 year degree, most likely. It's well worth it if you really enjoy the work. Nothing in the public sector pays as well as the private sector.If you've spent all your life in a morgue, you probably already know a few forensic scientists. The best thing to do is talk to them and see what the requirements are in the places you want to work.

Can an angry woman use an old pair of underwear to smear dna before doing a rape kit?

Asked by Janet over 9 years ago

See next question.

Was just wondering what it took to become a forensic scientist, what did you have to take in college, what major?

Asked by Taylor M. almost 9 years ago

It all depends on where you want to work and what they require. At the coroner's office we all had at least a bachelor's degree in a natural science like biology, because there were not any forensic degrees then. If you want to be a DNA analyst you will probably need to major in genetics or biochemistry. At the police department where I work, with our very small lab, we are only required to have a high school diploma--but you get extra points in the interview process for advanced degrees so we all have at least a bachelor's.Hope that helps.

Can a forensic Scientist help me solve this quetsion? There was only one murderer.

Asked by Sujee Pundaisen over 8 years ago

I'm afraid I'll need some more details than that.

If somone ejaculated in a girls or guys mouth they swallow can u find dna can it be found in 5 hoursborbis itbalredy gone

Asked by jim over 8 years ago

i don't know. It would be worth a try.

I have read information regarding chemical enhancement techniques to view fingerprints in blood, however this got me thinking, does the use of fingerprint enhacement techniques such as powders suspension harm the confirmatory test for blood

Asked by Emily over 9 years ago

No. Almost all blood enhancement reagents will not destroy the blood for DNA testing. I don't think it would affect confirmatory tests either, but If we wanted to do a confirmatory test for blood such as phenolphthalein we would probably just do it on a spot where the marks were smeared or otherwise not useful as fingerprints.

what technologies do they use for fingerprinting identification

Asked by nikki about 9 years ago

There are numerous techniques for obtaining fingerprints from surfaces--black powders, colored powders, alternate light, superglue, dye staining. Once you can visualize the print, comparing one to another is done by noting all the information (where ridges end, divide, form a dot, have a scar, etc.) in one pattern and comparing it to another print's pattern. This can be done by a computer so that thousands to millions of prints can be searched quickly, all day, every day, all over the world, but is always confirmed by human beings. Despite what you see on TV!

If a baby was born 53 years ago, 7 1\2 months gestation and was stillborn, then wrapped in aluminum foil and buried, if you could find it would there be any human tissue left to prove it was a chld? I want to bring him home and put him with his moth

Asked by martha1954 about 9 years ago

I'm sorry, I"m sure I answered this question months ago, I don' t know why it didn't post. The answer is there's no way to guess, a doctor would have to look at it. If there's no tissue, DNA might possibly be obtained from bones or teeth.

my ex husband put tramadol to his Sprite drink and personally sent the specimen to the forensic lab on Aug 24; which was as dated as Received by the lab but the label in the specimen bottle was Aug 19.
My question is what was the time lapse? help

Asked by Clarity over 8 years ago

I'm sorry but I have no idea. You'll have to ask the lab. I'd love to know myself--I'd also love to know why your ex drugged his own drink and then paid to have a lab analyze it.

My brother-in law, 24y.o. healthy male is with friends chat/laughing and laughs extra long, stops, head hangs down. Within minutes he passes away. At the time, drinking an energy drink and ate a peanut bar before. Post mortem, just scorched stomach??

Asked by Curious about 9 years ago

I'm sorry, I wouldn't have any idea. You'd have to ask a pathologist.

Have you ever gotten emotionally attached to a case?

Asked by Jordan Hall over 8 years ago

No. There are cases and victims that I feel sorrier for than others, but nothing reaching the level that I would call emotionally involved. Everything is over by the time I get there, and then I don't usually see the victims or other parties again so there isn't an opportunity to bond.

What requirements do you need to become a forensic scientist?

Asked by stephanie over 8 years ago

It depends entirely on where you work. The requirements are whatever your employer says they are (same with your job title). DNA analysts are often required to have a PhD in genetics. At the coroner's I had to have a BS in one of the natural sciences. At my police department they only require a high school diploma, but give extra points for advanced schooling so we all have BSs. The best way to get an idea is to go to different agencies' websites and look at help wanted postings.

Hello! Is there a way that I could get a chance to interview a forensic scientist for a college paper of mine?

Asked by Danielle B over 8 years ago

Yes, I'll email you.

could you please answer these questions for a project i am doing about career opportunities
a. Describe the working environment
b. Are you working with others or independently working?
c. Does the career involve working in a lab, with people or both

Asked by jejeh over 8 years ago

a) I work at a police department. We have a small lab with equipment for processing for fingerprints and the rest of the office is regular office stuff--desks, computers, supply cabinet, coffee machine.We work mostly days, with someone on call tonight. b) Both. I work on my own for most call-outs and working on pieces of evidence, but for larger cases then we work as a team. c) Both, again. We have a lab but I probably spend only 5-10% of my time, on average, in there.

Is their an industry standard test to test for purification of blood on a forensic swab after a hematrace test results negative.

Asked by martin over 8 years ago

I don't understand what you mean by 'purification of blood.'

Is there anything wrong with having glasses or contact lenses if you want to be a forensic scientist? Will it interfere with your chances at being hired?

Asked by Barry89 over 8 years ago

No. I've worn glasses since the 5th grade and had no trouble being hired.

Writing a novel: How long could dead bodies go undetected in an air conditioned storage unit? Assuming the people who leased it paid in cash and were unattached to their location (so basically no one is looking for them).

Asked by WriterGal about 8 years ago

I'm sorry I can't give you any concrete timelines (a pathologist would know better than I) but I would think at least a couple of days. Air conditioning would definitely make the smell more tolerable than no air conditioning, but still storage units usually have just enough A/C to keep high heat and humidity from causing mold or causing problems with electronics. That's not the same thing as refrigeration. It might also depend on how close the bodies are to the door. People walking by might catch a whiff of something bad but assume that an errant mouse or cat somehow died inside. Thinking that, passers-by might be reluctant to open the door to someone else's property. The storage unit owners, even seeing it unlocked, might try to at least contact the client first, maybe calling the home and the guy's cell which of course he's not answering. Honestly you could probably make it anything you wanted--if you want it discovered quickly, put the unit at the front of the property or give it a fussy neighbor client who visits that same week. If you want it to be a long time, put it at the rear of the property where no other clients visited their units and all units lead to an outer door that didn't show any signs of damage (because both victims and husband entered with their assigned passkey) so the storage unit employees never had a reason to enter to notice either a smell or an unlocked unit. Good luck!

If somone ejaculated in a girls or guys mouth they swallow can u find dna

Asked by jim over 8 years ago

Possibly, depending on the time elapsed.

Hey, I'm very interested in becoming a forensic scientist myself. May I ask, what kind education is necessary to become a forensic scientist. Also where did you apply for your job? Did you go through private training after you were hired?

Asked by Zachary Assante about 8 years ago

If you look through previous answers you'll find a number pertaining to this. Each agency and position may have different requirements so the only way to know is to call the places you are interested in working at and ask them. For my current job I only need a high school diploma but we all have at least a Bachelor's degree. If you want to do DNA analysis they may require a PhD. I applied to the police department that posted the vacancy. Most have online postings now so it's pretty easy. Yes, I've had a lot of continuing education through other police departments and forensic organizations.

I have a question relating to forensic anthropology. Do these scientists consider transgender people when identifying a victim? Crimes against transgender people are silent ones. They could be looking for the completely wrong gender of a victim.

Asked by Kamryn over 8 years ago

I would think that would become obvious at the autopsy. If the victim is not dead, say missing, then that information would most likely come to light when they talk to the victim's doctor or family members.

Can cooled oil impregnated towels self ignite?

Asked by michael about 8 years ago

I very much doubt anything self-ignites, but I'm not an expert on explosives. But where oil is concerned I'm fairly sure you would need a spark to ignite it.

what is the worst part of being a forensic scientist? Is there any reason why you would quit being a forensic scientist?

Asked by Ayah over 8 years ago

Apart from the physical hardships (bad smells, having to get out of bed in the middle of the night, sometimes having to work 16-20 hour days), the worst part is what would be the worst part in any job--problem co-workers or bad management. Happily I don't have issues like that right now, but if a really horrible management staff were hired in, that might make me quit or at least look for another agency.

what are two challenges that you have to overcome? how do you overcome those challenges?

Asked by Ayah over 8 years ago

Having to testify in court, which is the most awful kind of public speaking ever because there are people there trying to make you look incompetent. You deal with it by practicing and preparing and training yourself not to take it personally. The other challenge is learning to communicate, in different ways with different groups. With victims and family/friends of victims, you have to be empathetic without talking to them about the investigation, because that's the detective's job. With co-workers, detectives and cops, you have to give them all the information they need or want without bruising their egos. This takes practice and focus.

My brother was kill and they said it was an accident. His arm was nearly torn from his body but there is very little blood at the scene. How much blood should have been present?

Asked by autumndawn about 8 years ago

See above.

Do you believe that more could be done to improve dna testing

Asked by kerrie dunbar over 8 years ago

Improved in what way?

why we use alleles frequence instead of single short tandem repeat when we want to match dna crime to suspect

Asked by atheer about 8 years ago

As far as I know--and I am not a DNA expert--multiplying the frequencies of each allele tested is what gives us the astronomically high numbers of elimination of people having that same set of alleles. A SET of data points eliminates many more people than a single data point, in other words.

I have an old leather scabbard,from my fathers Marine Kbar knife, is want to know how to bring out the writing on the back, i tried using paper, and rubbing with graphite, any other suggestions?

Asked by Al Tyler over 8 years ago

I don't know too much about indented writing but I would suggest using alternative light sources like IR or UV.

My friend has been sleeping in a loft in his garage for 20 years. Recently he "fell from the loft" apparently while sleeping not once but two times 4 months apart. What are common injuries from a fall about 6-7 Ft H ft sleeping I have suspesions

Asked by Cassie about 8 years ago

I'm afraid you'd have to ask a doctor. I'm not an expert in that area, but I could make a guess that it depends a great deal on what he lands on when he falls. Also, has anything in the loft changed recently? Maybe he rearranged the furniture so his bed is closer to the edge?

Research for a novel. If one could behead others with a perfectly clean, precise, magical cut, how would that stand out from a beheading by a blade?

Asked by Adelle almost 8 years ago

I'm sorry but I have no idea. You'd have to ask a pathologist about wound appearance. Sorry I can't be more help.

Does the pericardium fill with blood upon expiration or after expiration, or at all after death

Asked by g.hill over 8 years ago

I'm sorry but I would have no idea. You'd have to ask a pathologist.

If a gunshot wound to the head beginning under the chin and traveling slightly right to left and front to back was a 9mm and exited through a hat, would it be normal to not have blood splatter in the hat and why would area around hole in hat be gray?

Asked by Charlie about 8 years ago

In general and barring other explanations, if the area around a hole caused by a bullet is gray that is caused by fouling, or vaporized lead from the bullet exiting the gun within approximately 6 inches of the hole. That would indicate that the hole is an entrance. Is the gray on the inside or the outside of the hat? I can't explain why there would not be blood on the hat (again, are we talking the inside or the outside?) unless it was literally blown off the head before the blood began to spill, but that is unlikely in the case of an exit I would think.

Is it possible to find any semen or blood samples in an abusing crime scene after a while ? Certainly the scene is being cleaned by the janitors but even so with luminol or Christmas Tree Stain can any results of the criminal identity still be found ?

Asked by Mekos over 8 years ago

Who knows? It all depends on where the samples were and how thoroughly the surface was cleaned. If blood was on a glass window and it was thoroughly cleaned, then all of it is probably gone for good. If it's a porous bare wood, then probably not...unless it was thoroughly soaked with a bleach solution. If it's a large area, even if it's cleaned there might still be some left in the nooks and crannies--like in a tile floor, the ceramic may be clean but the more porous grout between the tiles might hold a substance. So there is no way to say it's always possible or it's always not possible. PS Luminol helps you find blood. Christmas Tree stain is used to stain a dried semen sample on a glass slide. It doesn't help you find the semen in the first place.

Hi. I am interested in becoming a Forensic Scientist and I am a senior in high school. I had a few questions and was wondering if I could get your phone number or email address to ask you those questions. Thanks

Asked by Rana almost 9 years ago

I am so sorry I didn't get back to you earlier! I can be reached through my website at

Though if you look through previous questions and answers, you might find that someone has already asked what you would like to know.

What are the things we should be looking for in an abusment case,what are the good evidence of the crime scene ? Semen,blood ..?

Asked by Mekos over 8 years ago

I don't know what you mean by 'abusement'. Like child abuse, or sexual abuse? Basically you look for whatever confirms or refutes the victims' story or your theory of the crime. First was the suspect at the right location at the right time for this crime to have occurred--you look at receipts, witness statements, GPS, anything that puts the relevant people in the right places. Then is there physical evidence of the alleged action occurring--bruises, blood, semen, a weapon found at the location. Then is that evidence tied to the suspect by DNA or other means?

Can you tell from skeletal cremains if a person was assaulted?

Asked by Avialane over 8 years ago

If bones survive the cremation process and show signs of physical trauma (such as fractures), then yes.

A dead body that has been found after an extended period of cold weather has "gooseflesh" and is apparently frozen to the point that autopsy has to wait a day. Did that person die while in rigor, since gooseflesh is a characteristic of rigor?

Asked by Jimmy Conway over 8 years ago

I did not know gooseflesh was a characteristic of rigor, and if I'm understanding rigor to mean rigor mortis then of course they'd already be dead before reaching that stage. But as for how likely it is that pre-mortem gooseflesh would remain after death or be affected by freezing after death, I'm afraid you'd have to ask a pathologist. I don't have the expertise to answer that.

When a child is hit by a car and killed, why would cops put a child going 500ft, without road rash or clothes tore to hell. Only blood back of head, no visible marks. But the car actually looks like a sledge hammer hit it. She would of hit the car fa

Asked by Brandy Daugherty about 8 years ago

See below.

what is the most gruesome case you have ever worked with and was the person ever caught

Asked by gael luna over 8 years ago

Probably either a (small) plane crash or a shotgun blast. The first was an accident and the second was a suicide, so I suppose you could say the person was caught.

Am I allowed to have facial hair like a beard for example in the field of forensic scientist?

Asked by jason gonzalez about 8 years ago

I'm sure you are, since most positions are civilian positions without those kinds of restrictions.

Hello! I'm writing a research paper about Forensic Scientist and I was wondering if I could ask a few questions? My email is Thank you!

Asked by Red over 8 years ago

Sure, I'll email you!

What is the biggest problem for you in the medical field?

Asked by Alex about 8 years ago

I'm not really in the medical field, so I don't know how to answer that. Can you clarify?

I can't use my own email at the moment, but my teacher is allowing me to borrow her email. I hope you don't mind.

Asked by Highschoolstudent over 7 years ago

Okay, I emailed you.

How has no one asked you about the new OJ knife yet lol?? If there WAS blood or other DNA on it, just how long before it would degrade to undetectable levels? And might the tech be avail in the FUTURE (thus we should keep the knife for testing then?)

Asked by OJOJOJ over 8 years ago

Unfortunately, I cannot answer any of these!1. No one has asked me about the new OJ knife, and in any event I don't know any more than anyone else who has read the papers. 2. That's impossible to say. It would depend on what kind of DNA evidence is there, what the soil was like around the object and how exposed it would be to elements like rain and heat. If it were simply buried in the yard I would think it highly unlikely that anything could be recovered after all this time, but we never say never. 3. I have no idea what the future holds. More technology might be able to detect ever tinier amounts of DNA, but it can't construct DNA where none exists. Sorry if that's not too enlightening!!

Hello, I am In high school & I'm doing a project where I have to ask about 8 questions to a forensic scientist, if you are willing to answer them that would be great & if you can email me that would be even better, thanks!

Asked by Breanne Ruiz about 8 years ago

Sure, I will email you.

HI Ms Black, can you please give me a short summary about forensic analysis? its for a high school project and i need all the additional info that i can get.... my email is Thank You!!! :))

Asked by John almost 8 years ago

I'm sorry but I don't know what you mean by "a summary about forensic analysis." I'm afraid you'll have to be more specific than that.

Also note that it appears that only the protectant layer was remover that the bar code sorda fadded/rubbed away.

Asked by Laray kirker almost 8 years ago

See above.

Hello! I am doing an experiment on what common household substances oxidize luminol other than blood (and might interfere with an investigation). i was wondering if you had any personal experiences with this happening or any advice you could share!:)

Asked by Jessica over 7 years ago

Vomit, horseradish, copper (as in pennies) and some cleaning compounds can also give a positive luminol reaction.Good luck on your project!

Can u email me, I have a mountain of evidence that points in a bigger crime than a death I have bunch of pictures for u to look at

Asked by Brandy Daugherty about 8 years ago

I'm sorry but as I say below I am not trained in automobile accidents, so I wouldn't know any more than anyone else about how to determine what happened during the accident. I'm sorry for your loss.

I am considering applying for a forensic scientist tech job but am not sure about the hours. I know that the job can entail working non-traditional hours including on call, but is it very often that you work those types of hours?

Asked by Tara about 8 years ago

That all depends on where you work. If it's a large department and shifts are covered 24 hours, you might not have on-call times but might have to work late when on a scene. As to how often I actually have to take a call, that is totally unpredictable. Sometimes I can work a whole weekend without a single call, overtime or otherwise, and other times you're out all night. If you have a situation like child-care concerns or something where call-outs could be a problem, you're going to want to be aware of that. The best way to know is call the places you'd like to consider working and ask.

I have to interview a forensic scientist as part of my math class in Jr High. Can you tell me how you use math in forensic science. I googled the textbook answer, but would like a real persons answer.please

Asked by EJ about 8 years ago

We use math in calculating point of orgin of bloodstain patterns. The sin of the angle of impact equals the width over the length of the blood stain. When we have a group of bloodstains on a surface like a wall or floor we can use this to calculate the point of origin. Also the fingerprint database searching uses complicated algorithms to rank fingerprint matches in terms of similarity. Forensic chemists probably use math more than I do--for example, to calculate the amount of alcohol in a person's blood. I hope that helps!

Why is a confirmatory test required for semen but not for blood?

Asked by Chris Kay almost 8 years ago

Wow I am sorry I somehow didn't answer this question!! In my experience we do a presumptive test for both and then send to DNA testing because they will confirm the presence of DNA in the quantitative step. We do have the OBTI test for human blood but there's no reason to do it u less we're in a huge hurry to confirm human blood.

I am doing a research project on possible career options and my chosen career is Forensics, I am hoping that I may interview you. I have a series of questions I would like to address.
My email is
Please and thank you.

Asked by Esther over 7 years ago

Okay I will email you.

How much pressure per square inch. If a child is struck by a car, left fender without the car stopping, what is the likeliness of that child going 500ft ove two lanes of traffic.

Asked by Brandy Daugherty about 8 years ago

Please see above.

Have you ever done wax reconstruction to a person whose face was messed up? Is it likely u could mold a face with the person before they die, could u put a wax figure in the casket and it would pass for a dead person.

Asked by Brandy Daugherty about 8 years ago

I have not because I am not trained in facial construction. We did have a case in which we had a reconstruction done on a skull which helped identify the person. As for the casket, I don't see why not, depending upon the skill of the wax worker.

My brother was killed. I believe he was murdered. His left arm was nearly severed from his body and his left mastoid process was crushed. The blood at the scene was descibed as an 8in in diameter patch. How much blood should have been at the scene?

Asked by autumndawn about 8 years ago

I'm sorry to hear about your brother. Unfortunately I have no idea how much blood there should be, you'd have to ask a pathologist, but from my experience I can guess it would depend on two things--what kind of surface was he on--concrete, tile, carpet, dirt? Also, how long the heart kept pumping after the injury. I have seen gunshot victims where they barely bled at all, and others were completely soaked practically head to toe. So there are a number of factors that will affect this.

Hi, i am currently studying a degree in forensic science, i just wanted to know if you have any knowledge of different techniques used around the world in crime scene environments. Specifically between the Netherlands and the uk.

Asked by Ryan Williamson about 8 years ago

That's a good question but I'm afraid I have no idea since I've never worked anywhere except the U.S. I would guess that the scientific techniques would all be basically the same but the administrative aspects (paperwork, how reports are worded, what is done in which types of cases etc.) would vary.

Can u prove the difference betwwen pubic hair and chaset hair or facial hair

Asked by jim amdiny over 8 years ago

Yes, there are visible differences (under a microscope) between the different kinds of body hair.

Hi I was just wondering can I get a job as a DNA analyst. If I get a degree in microbiology with a minor in criminal Justice

Asked by Diamond about 8 years ago

Requirements for a position are up to the agency doing the hiring. The best way to know is to check their websites for open position announcements, or contact them and ask.

what courses do you recommend to take in collage and what would be good tips for the classes

Asked by stumped student over 7 years ago

You can't go wrong with science classes. When I was in college they didn't have courses specifically in forensic science, so that wasn't an option. Look especially for classes where you can do hands-on work in the lab or field. And different agencies will have different requirements, so you might want to go online and check out the different vacancies to get some idea of what requirements are out there.

I am writing a screenplay & need to do some forensic & CSI
research like ID & lab storage of
a decomposed severed head.
Would appreciate any help you might offer.
Thanks Don

Asked by Don Tamborine over 8 years ago

Okay, i'll email you.

how often is DNA/fingerprint evidence actually left behind at crime scenes?

Asked by danielle about 8 years ago

That's impossible to say, since there's no way to know if perhaps it was left but simply not discovered. Perhaps they touched something that didn't appear out of place so we didn't fingerprint it. Perhaps they touched everything but have very dry skin so they didn't leave prints. Perhaps they left DNA on the steering wheel of a stolen crime but we didn't collect it because the state lab doesn't do touch DNA analysis on non-violent crimes. There are too many factors involved.

I can say that burglars cut themselves climbing through broken windows perhaps 2-5% of the time. But only a fraction of burglars break windows, so....

Hi i am struggling with coming up with a science fair idea and my main interest is in the forensic field and with Dna, I need guidance with an idea on fingerprints or dna analysis... Please and thank you

Asked by stewy almost 8 years ago

I would be happy to help you. Please email me off list at and tell me what you need help with, for instance: How involved does this have to be? Do you need to do just a demonstration or an actual experiment?

Hello Ms. Black, I have two questions 1) can those with a past juvenile conviction enter the field of forensics 2) might you be able to put me in touch with a forensic scientist who would do a informational job interview with one of my students?

Asked by SLP over 8 years ago

Please see earlier answer about convicted felons. But as far as I know it would probably depend on the kind of crime, whether it was a misdemeanor or felony, etc. Many juvenile records can be sealed or expunged as well, so that process could be worth checking out.

You can have your student contact me Via my web site at and I'll try to help!

I'd like to know what is the biggest pain you deal with as a Forensic Scientist?

Asked by Jack about 8 years ago

Officers who talk their sergeants into calling us out to a scene for five minutes of processing because they don't want to use the fingeprrint kits that they've been issued for just that purpose.

How long would it take for a deceased body to drop below 32 degrees centigrade if they were in good health previously and the ambient temp was 17 degrees centigrade. Would the body be cold and blue to touch inside 2 hours?

Asked by Iain over 7 years ago

I'm sorry but I have no idea. That's a question for a pathologist. Sorry I couldn't help!

How long does it take to really get a fingerprint match if using all available databases?

Asked by Seeker over 8 years ago

That depends entirely on your digital situation. How big is the database (how many fingerprints does it have to search through), are you searching both fingers and palms, how many servers or whatever can you devote to the task, and have the search parameters been narrowed down, say to only right hand fingers or only the left index. All those factors will affect it so that a search could take anywhere from a few seconds to a day .

When looking at a murder scene, could you simpky check the body for fecal matter or urine in their groin area to see if that is where the murder took place?

Asked by Quincy about 7 years ago

I think you mean to check for that wherever they're lying to see if the body had been moved?

Well, not everyone evacuates upon death. Also the clothing absorbs most of it, and any that leaks through could also have leaked through after being moved. But yes, that could be an indication that the body had been moved just as bloodstains would.

Hope that helps!

Can you test for how long dna evidence is present. Like if I cut myself on accident three days ago could you time stamp that without me telling you how long ago the accident happened.

Asked by PF almost 8 years ago

No. There is no time stamp on DNA, so far as I know.

a car VW jetta traveling at 30 or 40 mph hits a 67" tall 160 pound woman how far will she be thrown.

Asked by Sarah over 7 years ago

I'm sorry but I have no idea. You'd have to ask an accident investigator.

when i was in third grade i had a chemistry set- on day a relative gave me conc nitric acid; glycerin and some powdered magnesium - i almost got hurt -got lucky- do u think this person meant me harm- i've often wondered

Asked by over 7 years ago

Without knowing you or your relative, I really couldn't guess. Maybe they hoped you'd read the instructions first?

how long does it take to become a forensic scientist?

Asked by ali about 8 years ago

If you look over previous answers, you'll see that it depends upon the requirements of where you want to work. My job requires only a high school diploma but gives extra points for college degrees, so we all have at least a BS. A larger lab might require a BS. If you're doing DNA work they might require a PhD. The only way to know for sure is to call a few places you might be interested in and ask what they require. Best of luck!

If the bar code if worn off of a computer and you are trying to figure out what the bar codes numbers were. How can you get the numbers? Cause where the bar code was before it was torn off. It left a lil bit of the code is visible.

Asked by Laray kirker almost 8 years ago

I would try an alternate light source, UV or IR light or even white light with colored filters. That might make it more visible. Other than that, I don't know, sorry. You'd have to ask a document examiner, they might have more techniques for working with paper.

Pressure points on a car, Chevy Cavalier, between a 1198-2002 year model, I would like to know the metal density of the fender, when struck by a child less than 80lbs and less than 4ft tall, car traveling at a 50mph.Head lights density test, how much

Asked by Brandy Daugherty about 8 years ago

I'm sorry but I am not trained in accident reconstruction. That is a very specialized field. I would have no idea whatsoever.

Good Afternoon, I'm writing a research paper about Forensic Scientist and I was wondering if I could ask a few questions? My email is Thank You

Asked by NL over 7 years ago

Sure, I'll email you. You might also want to look over earlier questions on this site.

If somone ejaculated in a girls or guys mouth they swallow can u find dna proving who ejaculated

Asked by jim amdiny over 8 years ago

See above.

Hi, I'm looking for a forensic scientist to interview, and I thought you could help me? What is your field of specialty? Do you work in teams or divisions? What were the perks and down sides? I don't have enough room for the rest of my questions.

Asked by Highschoolstudent over 7 years ago

Send me your email address. If you don't want to post it here you can email me through my website:

What are the main pros and cons of forensic investigation today?

Asked by Mariam almost 7 years ago

Pros: Advanced technology and political attention (i.e., funding)Cons: Reality--evidence isn't always there, the job can be dirty and hard, budgets are always limited

Will a dry blood stain on rocks, say the interior of a cave, appear red after at least a year or would the stain be darker or change because of the conditions within the cave?

Asked by MK over 8 years ago

It will turn a dark red brown once it's completely dry, and will stay that color so far as I know if conditions stay consistent. If it changes further it would probably just fade a bit.

If you were given a 20GB hard drive that had been used to image an 8GB USB device and
found during analysis that more than the 8GB image was on the disk, what would this
indicate? How would you then proceed?

Asked by Parbh about 8 years ago

I have no idea, so I asked my co-worker. She said:My first question would be was the 20GB forensic wiped? Was it completely empty when the 8GB was put on it?Second, does the software that you use to image produce working files or executable programs that are needed to view the image? Otherwise 8 GB is 8 GB so there can't be more.

Would there be DNA left if someone used a forge and turned a murder weapon (say a knife) into something else, or maybe just folded the steel multiple times?

Asked by RDSBandit almost 8 years ago

I'm fairly sure that the high temperatures used in melting metal would destroy any DNA.

Hello, my name is Maria and I'm currently a High School senior. For my college and career project I need to interview someone in my field of interest which is forensics. Is it possible I could interview you through FaceTime or something? Thank you:)

Asked by mariataipe1523 over 7 years ago

Sure, send me your email address. If you don't want to post it here you can email me through my website:

if dna or other evidence could be reproduced by a 3d printer how would this effect forensic

Asked by viorgateway almost 8 years ago

I'm afraid I don't know enough about how 3-D printing works to be able to answer. I can guess that it might be handy for reconstructing items such as shoeprints and tire tracks from photos or scans. Other than that I don't see where making a copy of something would necessarily affect a crime. And as far as I know they haven't reached the point of replicating on a cellular level such as DNA.

Has forensic science actually made some investigations harder to solve?

Asked by Mariam almost 7 years ago


Juries' unrealistic expectations of forensic science may make court cases harder to win, but that's not the same thing.

can you tell the age of pharmaceuticals - specifically Ritalin/methylphenidate - like how many years ago it was made?

Asked by rogernono over 7 years ago

I'm sorry, I wouldn't have any idea. Do you mean dating the actual pills, or once they're in a person's system? If the former I think you'd have to ask a chemist, if the latter, a toxicologist. Sorry I can't help.

Thanks so much for answering that! Yeh, the criminals used other peoples hair. Would it be possible to blend the different types of hair with water so you could spray it on the scene of a crime? would it be the same result as leaving the hair intact?

Asked by Lisa fan over 7 years ago

Wouldn't that get the whole crime scene wet? And wouldn't a layer of hair indicate that the hair was a diversion, since obviously no one would normally shed that much hair while committing a crime. It scattering hair wouldn't affect fingerprints or touch DNA, which crime scene techs would be looking for more than hair anyway. Most labs don't even analyze hair any more. Also, I should clarify, hair cells don't have nuclear DNA. DNA in hair usually comes from the skin cells that hold the hair in your scalp and cling to the root. So if you're using cut hair there would not be any nuclear DNA to obtain. Mitochondrial DNA is a different type of DNA present in your cells' mitochondria. It will be the same throughout your body but is passed down unchanged from mother to child so it will be identical with your mother, your mother's siblings (assuming the same grandmother), your siblings from the same mother, your first cousins from your maternal aunts, etc. But very very few labs test mitochondrial DNA so it's unlikely it would be tested from your crime scene unless it was extremely high-profile and they had no other evidence to use. And then they'd have to have a suspect to compare it to or it would be useless. (CODIS, the national DNA database, is nuclear DNA.)

I'm worried I wouldn't be able to handle seeing the bodies knowing what they went through. Like I read about children that are abducted murdered and dumped and it scares me. Have you investigated a child murder? How do you distance yourself?

Asked by Landon about 8 years ago

I've been involved with a number of child murders but in every case the child was killed by someone in their own family, usually a parent. In one case a 6 year old was shot by an acquaintance of his older brother's, but the 6 year old wasn't the target, simply an inconvenient witness. I've never worked one where the child was abducted. I don't have chilidren so it's actually easier for me than for people who do. To me it's largely the same as any other murder, though harder in some ways because the victim looks so vulnerable. You handle it because there's so much to be done and you have to do it right, so thinking about all that keeps you from thinking about the tragedy of this young life.

What is your opinion on te csi effect and what concerns do you have about it?

Asked by Kerena over 7 years ago

It's concerning because juries expect more than is reasonable. Not every case is going to have DNA evidence and you don't always find fingerprints on a surface and eyewitness testimony sounds convincing but can be very unreliable. However an expert can hopefully explain all these issues to make the limitations clear, provided the jury listens.

An HVAC condensate leak resolved 1mth prior yet occupant complained of 'worms' & 'biting bugs' entering via the air vents. Photo enlargement an assumed mold/debri pile in pan looks to be decomposing carcass.

Asked by Sleepy over 7 years ago

I doubt I can help you but I'll try to get the pic.

Is a forensic expert allowed 2 make a hair or fiber match based only in the fact that the hairs or fibers were artificially dyed

Asked by Michele about 8 years ago

Unlike what you see on TV, a hair and fiber expert never 'matches' hairs or fibers (except in the case of DNA analysis). We can say they are 'consistent with' having come from this person or this article of clothing in that all the microscopic characteristics are the same or within a group of the same characteristics. Though dyed hair is quite distinctive with the growth since dying and the color so it would be a strong indication that they came from the same person, you couldn't actually put a number on it (like 'there's a one in two billion chance this came from someone else', like DNA). That's largely why hair and fiber comparisons are rarely done any more.

What i meant by summary were the things that forensic scientists do when the first see a crime scene till the end of the investigation..... thanks!!

Asked by John almost 8 years ago

I'm sorry but that can, and has, fill several textbooks. There's just no way for me to summarize it in a paragraph.

So is there a specific test for nuclear DNA versus mitochondrial DNA?

Asked by L.Randolph almost 8 years ago

Yes, they are different substances.

What are some of the difficult parts of this job

Asked by Angel over 7 years ago

Being 'on call' and knowing you can be interrupted at any moment of the day and have to go to a crime scene, even if it's the middle of the night or a holiday. I've also had to change vacations because I have to testify in a trial. I hate that. 

What is a color

Asked by Angel over 7 years ago

I don't know what you mean.

Been reading through these with great interest Lisa, I love forensic science! if criminals had time and the area was very small what is the best way for criminals to either erase or cover up there DNA? Thanks:)

Asked by tommy k over 7 years ago

They could try not to leave it in the first place--wear gloves and a hat, and don't cut yourself on the window you broke to gain entry. And wear a mask since you never know who has cameras where in this day and age!

Hi Lisa thx for the answer. My question is it OK to declare vagal inhibition without sending hyoid bone to forensic lab. My fathers hyoid bone was not sent to forensic lab but was only manually examined. We suspect foul play here.

Asked by Raja over 7 years ago

A forensic lab wouldn't examine a hyoid bone. That would be done at the autopsy by the pathologist. To the best of my knowledge there isn't anything else to examine, just whether it's broken or not, and as I said it doesn't conclusively prove anything one way or the other.Best of luck.

For undergraduate studies, is it recommended to take Forensic Science or should we take a broader natural science such as Chemistry or Biology? This is of course considering the applicant is aiming to become a Forensic Scientist in the future.

Asked by Detective Dick Gumshoe over 7 years ago

I would suggest biology or chemistry, but that was what everyone took when I started out, so I may be behind the times. Your best bet is to call the crime labs you might wish to work at and ask what they prefer. Also check employment postings on the forensic organizations websites, such as IAI and AAFS. That's the only way to be more certain what they actually want.

What type of decisions do you make

Asked by Angel over 7 years ago

How to best process or obtain a piece of evidence.

What is the difference between a forensic scientist and a forensic science technician? Also, would I be able to major in Human Biology to become a Forensic Scientist?

Asked by RTasha over 7 years ago

A forensic scientist, forensic specialist, forensic technician can all be the same job or different jobs--your title is whatever your agency/boss says it is. There's no strict uniform code for titles. Usually any natural science is a good background for forensics. It may depend on whether you intend to work in a lab or on crime scenes. The best way is to look at job postings that interest you and see what the requirements are. You can view job postings on professional organizations' websites such as or Good luck.

And B) if it is mixed in with other samples of saliva, for example if 4 people spit into a glass and mixed up, could 4 samples of dna be pulled or is all the DNA ruined? Thank yooouuuuu! :)

Asked by sandaM over 7 years ago

As far as I know since they would all be the same type of cells, they could not be separated.

Does this career include or require travel

Asked by Angel over 7 years ago

Only local, to other government agencies or for training.

Would you be able to tell the difference between hair that was taken from a victim's brush (and planted at a crime scene) and hair that just naturally malted? For example, would hair from a hairbrush have more of a root than a malted hair??

Asked by Caroline about 7 years ago

I don't know what malted means, but I suspect the answer is no. Just brushing hair can pull it out just as in a struggle.

How to chemically distinguish between an original hand-written signature and a printed copy (the one that is scanned and then printed)

Asked by rixy over 7 years ago

I'm sure document examiners could do this fairly easily but I don't know exactly how. I would guess that alternative light source (like infrared or ultraviolet spectrums) could show that there is no difference between the signature and the rest of the document. Or I believe thin-layer chromatography could show that the chemical makeup is the same. A Questioned Document Examiner could tell you much more.

which of the ethical approaches/theories do you think will have the greatest influence on your thinking when faced with an ethical dilemma and why?
Which approach/theory?

Asked by lucresia over 7 years ago

I wasn't aware that there were theories other than: Do the right thing. Don't do the wrong thing.

Figuring out which is which isn't really that hard. Doing it might be, but it's usually not hard to figure out.

Hope that helps!

What do you like best about this job

Asked by Angel over 7 years ago

All the interesting, different, bizarre stories that make up the crimes that have happened that we have to investigate. 

As a forensic scientist, what problem have you found that lead to unreliability of forensic science? Any possible solutions?

Asked by yubing over 7 years ago

"Unreliability of a science" is pretty a broad swipe, so I don't have any idea what you're referring to. Any line of work--government, plumbing, brain surgery--can be unreliable if the people doing the work are undertrained,overeager, arrogant or lazy.

I need to interview a forensic scientist for a college paper that is due September 22, is my email address:

Asked by Delores Jackson over 7 years ago

Okay I will email you. I also suggest you give yourself more lead time on future assignments....

Are you required to be a police officer before becoming a forensic scientist? Also do you know of any jobs in forensics or any crime scene jobs in general that don't require being a police officer first?

Asked by Allie over 7 years ago

Many if not most crime scene and forensic work job are now civilian, which means you don't need to become a police officer and are not trained at the police academy, etc. Some agencies do have their forensic staff become sworn officers, so the only way to know is to ask. I've worked in forensics for over 20 years now and I've never been a police officer.

I am doing a project over my career and I want to ask some questions and I was wondering if you could answer them thank you!

Asked by trace clamon over 7 years ago

I was going to email your teacher but you didn't give me her complete address, just her name. Please go to my website and hit 'contact me' and let me know where to send a response. Thanks and good luck with your project.

What kind of off the job training is required?

Asked by Kaylee Marr over 7 years ago

I'm not sure what you mean by 'off the job training.'

I want to be a csi but where do I start? I am currently on my 2nd semester at a community college so I am doing my genera ed, I would like to know what are the best classes I should start taking that will benefit me in the long run after I finish GE?

Asked by ali over 7 years ago

You can't go wrong with as many science classes as you can get, and especially anything that's specifically forensics. Programs that have hands-on labs for processing evidence and crime scenes would be great.  Titles and job requirements aren't uniform, so the only way to know is to call the crime labs in your area or whereever you might be interested in working and ask them. At the coroner's office we had to have at least a bachelor's in a natural science (this was before they had forensic science majors). At the police department where I am now, they only require a high school diploma but you get more points in the interviewing process for having a four year degree, so we all have one. You can also go on the websites for professional organizations such as the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and check out their job vacancy postings and see what the various positions require. Good luck.

1. What is your past education?
2. What is your salary?
3. Craziest crime scene you helped solve?
4. What were some requirements asked of you for this job?
5. How long have you been doing this?
6. How many years of school did you do?

Asked by Kendall G. Koffler over 7 years ago

School project?Email me at and I'll send you answers I've accumulated.

Is it true that a females DNA can't be used to trace paternal male lines? How would I trace my fathers ethnicity with him gone and no brothers?

Asked by L.Randolph almost 8 years ago

I'm not a DNA expert, but I know that half the 23 chromosomes in a person''s nuclear DNA come from one parent and half from the other parent, so part of the father's DNA would have to be present in the child.

Mitochondrial DNA (which is a different substance entirely, a circular structure present in the cell's mitochondria, whereas nuclear DNA is a double helix present in the cell nucleus) is passed from mother to child without recombining, so only the mother's mitochondrial DNA is present in the child. We test for mitochondrial DNA when nuclear DNA isn't available, like when we only have cut hair or fingernails or old bone to work with.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how certainly can you look at two photographs and tell whether they are the same individual? Like to show you the photos. Thanks.

Asked by Seligo over 7 years ago

Sorry but I am not trained in facial recognition and I am notoriously bad with faces. My husband teases me about it all the time.I'm sorry I couldn't help!

Discuss how the following statements can both be true when applied to forensic investigation: “Every contact leaves a trace” AND “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

Asked by Sara over 7 years ago

Why does this sound like a homework question?

What are the normal working hours? Do you work overtime? How is overtime set up?

Asked by Violet over 7 years ago

I'm sorry, I thought I answered this one. We work 40 hours per week, some of us are on four 10s and some on rotating 12 hour shifts. Each of us takes a turn on being 'on call' for overtime calls.

Is their a way to determine which vehicle hit which from the damage say 2 vehicles are stopped on the highway one backs in to the other then insists the back car rammed him. Marks on the road are nonexistent because of a blizzard

Asked by Gabr over 7 years ago

Someone trained in accident reconstruction might be able to do so, but not having marks on the road makes it more difficult.

What advice do you have for a person interested in your position?

Asked by Nate over 7 years ago

Take as many science courses as you can. Visit all the crime labs in your area, talk to people, and try to get an internship in one or more of them. 

I don't know how to edit my question to fix the photo link. The pic must be seen in order to provide thoughts on mold & debris vs. decomposing carcass. Thanks

Asked by Sleepy over 7 years ago

Sorry I went to the link but it just loaded forever and I coudn't view the picture.

UPDATE: Hey on a whim I tried the link again and could see the picture. Unfortunately I still couldn't make a guess as to what the pile is. Though in my opinion it looks too light-colored to be a decomposing animal.

Thanks again! So scattering hair over a crime scene would not cover the more commonly found searched for nuclear DNA? meaning the criminals in the movie (Charles town) arn't achieving much protection at all?

Asked by lisa fan over 7 years ago

It could help if it's pulled hair, not cut, and if they were super-careful to leave no fingerprints or any other kind of possible DNA samples so that the police had no choice but to test the hairs for possible suspect DNA. It would also depend on the scene--if it's a heavily traveled bank, for instance, so there is a ton of discarded hairs, the police would hardly test them all. If they leave a tuft of hair on say, a chain-link fence used to get away, where the police couldn't help but notice it, then they'd have a better chance of making it a useful diversion.

What are the career advancement opportunities like for a person in your profession?

Asked by Nate over 7 years ago

There are usually levels of the job, like Tech I, Tech II etc. depending on years of experience that will come with an increase in salary. After that one can progress to supervisory role. But there aren't a lot of steps, really. For instance I have nowhere to go from my current position, and I don't care. I like what I'm doing and have zero interest in being the supervisor.  

I am looking at becoming a DNA analyst working with hair, blood and gunshot residue samples, would it be better to get a degree in Forensic Science or a degree in Biology?

Asked by ssosiak1 about 7 years ago

If you're going to be a DNA analyst, you will probably not be working with gunshot residue as well. DNA labs are tending to want their analysts to have a PhD in genetics and focus solely in that area, but it would be best if you called labs at which you might want to work and make sure. Best of luck.

Do you have any advice on how to prepare for this job

Asked by Angel over 7 years ago

Take all the science courses you can, and visit and talk to forensic science personnel. You'll find them very approachable.

Hi Lisa thx a lot. A last similar question reg brain because my father was diagnosed with both heart and brain problems. Is extraction of brain and it's examination necessary If patient had brain probs? If so is it done at forensic lab or autopsy?

Asked by Raja about 7 years ago

If someone is under a doctor's care and the doctor signs the death certificate, then there most likely will not be any examination at all. Autopsies are not done in every case, only under some circumstances. Any examination would be done at autopsy.

Hypothetical question: if someone died in a brand spankin' new car (very few germs/bacteria, tight seal on the doors and windows) how long would it take for the body to decompose? What would it look like in, say, 75 years?

Asked by Jordy over 7 years ago

Interesting question, but I doubt I can be of much help. A body can do one of two things after death--decompose or desiccate. So it might turn into sludge or it might become a mummy. It might depend on temperature or pH levels (more relevant if the car was buried) to determine which way it would go. Being sealed would definitely slow the process to a crawl. I had a body in an attic once that was partially wrapped in plastic, and after three years the wrapped areas still had plenty of flesh and the unwrapped parts were down to bone.

I'm not sure who to ask, but could you possibly explain the decomposition process of a shipwreck victim's body after 3 years of being underwater? Thank you for your time!

Asked by Irene about 7 years ago

I'm sorry, I really couldn't. You need to ask a pathologist. Best of luck!!

Can extensive bruising be caused by pushing someone with the palm of the hands on the chest area

Asked by Jay about 7 years ago

I'm not a doctor but I don't see why not. If the flesh and muscle is being crushed between the ribs and the person's hands, that would have to cause damage. Sometimes CPR can cause cracked ribs.

What do you like about your job? What do you dislike?

Asked by Violet over 7 years ago

I like all the interesting, different, bizarre stories that make up the crimes that have happened that we have to investigate.  I dislike being 'on call' and knowing you can be interrupted at any moment of the day and have to go to a crime scene, even if it's the middle of the night or a holiday. I've also had to change vacations because I have to testify in a trial. I hate that. 

Is there a license required to become a forensic scientist? If so, what type?

Asked by Violet over 7 years ago

No. Depending on where you work and what you do, your employer might want you to be 'certified' in one area or the other.

i asked a question and didnt even realize i forgot to put my teachers email so il just give you mine ( thank you!

Asked by trace clamon over 7 years ago

Okay, I emailed you.

I was wondering if the dna from different sources are the same, for example is the dna the exact same in sweat, hair, saliva etc? I ask because I once saw a movie where the criminals threw hair over a crime scene, ruining all the DNA?

Asked by Lisa Fan over 7 years ago

Your nuclear DNA is the same in the skin cells holding your hair in place, your saliva, your blood, your skin, your bone marrow etc. Your friend's DNA is of course different from yours, but the same in their saliva, their blood etc. The criminals probably threw someone else's hair around the crime scene so it wouldn't match them.

How did you find this job

Asked by Angel over 7 years ago

I checked city and county websites for job postings.

What kind of schooling did you have to go through to become a forensic scientist, and how did you get to where you are now with your current job?

Asked by Izzy over 7 years ago

I had a bachelor's degree in biology when I applied to the coroner's office in 1998. They required a degree in one of the natural sciences, and there were no forensic science degrees back then. Only you can decide what you want to go to graduate school for, but as for career requirements you might look at the American Academy of Forensic Science and the International Association for Identification and look at their job vacancy postings to see what they require. As for other degrees with a bio major, there are many private labs for DNA, drug testing, paternity testing, water and food standards analysis, etc. as well as hospital labs that might require. Again, look at job vacancy postings in all these areas--they should be easily found online and they should state the educational requirements. It will also let you see in what areas more jobs are available. 

Many cold cases have unidentified victims but how come they are unidentified when you have fingerprints and hair, etc, i don't understand why cant they know who they are when they have that.

Asked by lily almost 7 years ago

Because not everyone's fingerprints are in a database. You only have fingerprints taken when you are arrested or apply for a job or some other license for which it is required. Not all of those necessarily end up in a database accessible to the agency that has the unidentified person. And DNA such as hair only helps when you have a profile to compare it to--if the unidentified person is a convicted felon so their DNA might have been entered when they went to prison, or if there are family members available to give a sample (in which case you would have to already have an idea of who the person might be). It's not really like TV. We don't have databases of every single person and every single substance known to man.

Can seman be removed with dry cleaning

Asked by aratliff8 about 7 years ago

I don't know that as a fact, but I would think so. Simply washing with soap and water will take care of it.

What should you major in if you want to go into this field?

Asked by Emily about 7 years ago

Usually in forensic science or any kind of natural science. If you want to go to into drug testing or toxicology, major in chemistry. If you want to do DNA analysis, then biology or biochemistry.

What is some things people worry about when coming a forensic scientist?

Asked by Kristen over 7 years ago

Usually the biggest worry is getting sick or faint around dead bodies. But actually they rarely do.

Do firearms have a unique spray pattern when fired? Something similar to a fingerprint?

Asked by Marco over 7 years ago

No. You might be able to estimate muzzle to target distance from a spray pattern, but not firearm type or brand.

How often did you encounter gloveprints? Can they be wiped? What are the necessary circumstances for them to exist? I'm asking not to become a murderer, but to help make a roleplaying case for people I know.

Asked by R-Mod over 6 years ago

Not often. Since a glove itself isn't secreting sweat and oils, there's really nothing for it to make a print with until it gets a little dirty or if the surface it's touching is a little dirty.They can be wiped off as easily as any other print.

Okay, so I'm interested in forensic science but..1.)I'm not that great at chemistry and I'm worried that'll get in the way and 2.) My parents aren't sure how much they'd make annually and if it's a secure job..I just don't know if it's a good choice.

Asked by Drxl about 7 years ago

How much chemistry you need depends on what type of work you do. As long as you're not actually working in toxicology or DNA, you shouldn't need to be a great chemist as long as you can reliably work with chemicals and combine them properly (like following a recipe). And as long as you are a reliable and honest employee then the job is secure, once you get it, but I will be honest--there's a lot of competition in this field right now so getting into a position might be difficult. You should definitely have a back-up plan.

I'm looking to return to school for Forensic Science to be a lab technician with a focus in ballistics. I'm wondering how highly regarded an online certificate is in your industry since I'm looking to finish school and start quickly. Thank you

Asked by Kelly H. over 6 years ago

That's an excellent question that I wish I had a better answer for. I'm guessing it depends on the interviewer's history and experiences. For instance due to curriculum changes, in my area we actually get much better-trained candidates from the community college and the for-profit local schools than the large, more prestigious university. It depends on what the curriculum entails and how much hands-on work and practice in your specific field (which may be difficult to do in an online course, but if the bricks and mortar schools don't provide it either, then perhaps it makes little difference). If I were you I would detail that as clearly as you can when applying for jobs.

Briefly describe your working conditions.

Asked by Violet over 7 years ago

Our building is relatively new so I work in an nice office. If it weren't for all the skull-themed items you wouldn't know you weren't in an accountant's office or something. We have a small lab where we process items with superglue or dye stain. I have to go to crime scenes, of course, and those can be cramped, filthy, rainy and/or hot.

What are the major responsibilities of your job?

Asked by Violet over 7 years ago

I spend about 90% of my time sitting in front of a computer looking at fingerprints. The rest of the time I go to crime scenes to photograph and process for fingerprints and collect items of evidence. When I was at the coroner's office I probably spent 40% of the time examining victim's clothing, 10% on gunshot residue testing, 30% on hairs and fibers, and 20% everything else. 

What type of personality do you think would make a person well-suited to this type of work?

Asked by Violet over 7 years ago

See above.

Hi Ms.Black,I was wondering if you had any advice for a high school junior hoping to get into forensic science?I've been researching colleges and forensic programs in California(where I live) but I hope you can help me understand the process better.

Asked by Brit over 7 years ago

Most agencies do not have huge staffs like on TV, and people tend to stay in the field. Thanks to the TV shows there is a universe more competition than I faced. On the other hand thanks to the current emphasis on forensics, agencies are always expanding--the federal government will be setting mandates and providing grant money to expand labs and services Check out every level (city, county, state, federal) in your area that you can find and also private labs.  Check the websites for the International Association for Identification and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.  

My father was declared dead of vagal inhibition and cardiac arrest.. I have read that vagsl inhibition often caused by throttling and strangulation. How important it is to expertly examine the hyoid bone so rule out foul play

Asked by Raja over 7 years ago

I'm sorry to hear about your father. The hyoid would normally be observed during the course of an autopsy, but I have had pathologists tell me that people can be strangled without breaking the hyoid, and the hyoid can be broken due to other reasons,so it doesn't conclusively prove anything one way or the other.

Greetings. I am writing a murder mystery in which the victim died from a blow to the head. The killer then loaded the body into the back of an SUV, where it lay for perhaps up to 6 hours. Then the killer dumped the body in a location where he was hoping to frame someone.

First question. Several hours after death, could there still be enough blood at the location of the head wound to leave blood evidence at the dump location? Would there be any way for the forensic experts to determine that that blood landed where it did several hours after its owner had died?

Another scenario. What if the killer, in the process of dumping the body, tried to make it look like the victim died in that location by bashing his head, in the vicinity of the wound, on the corner of a dumpster? What kind of evidence might such a maneuver leave?

I hope this question makes sense... Thank you. :)

Asked by CrankyBeach over 7 years ago

First question: My guess is (simply based on experience) is there would still be sticky blood at the head wound enough to smear on stuff, perhaps. It wouldn't be spurting or perhaps even dripping at that point because it should have begun to coagulate. Provided it didn't dry entirely, so the body would need to be in a place that's neither too dry nor too hot and certainly not both. Cool and humid would keep it from drying. The killer might bash the head but there could be a lack of blood spatter or flowing/pooling blood from the wound, since the blood won't be flowing as it would be if the person had still been alive. Also the problem with moving the body is lividity where the blood pools at the lower spots of the body due to gravity (like on the back if the person is lying supine. After several hours it should be fairly noticeable and then if you move the body, the lividity pattern doesn't quite match the position.

Hope that helps!

I have a BSc in microbiology. What else do I need to become a Forensic scientist? What are your thoughts on what Master's program I should pursue if any?

Asked by Nix over 7 years ago

Each agency will have their own requirements. The best way to know what to expect is to call all the crime labs in the area and ask what their requirements for various positions are. You can also check websites for forensic organizations such as and and examine their job postings. Best of luck!

Where would an author go if they wanted to ask questions of a forensic scientist in order to get details right for a book the are writing?

Asked by Arillius over 7 years ago

An excellent site is my friend Dr. Lyle's "The Writer's Forensic Blog" -

You also might attend any public events at your local police department, such as a citizen's academy. There you might meet members of the crime lab and see if any might be amenable to you emailing them questions now and then. Feel free to email me as well via my website: www.lisa-black.comBest of luck!

What kind of toxicology is needed to produce evidence of poisoning from chloroganic pesticides and illicit drugs from around 16-17 years ago. A trace unknown substances test? Blood, hair, bone marrow . . . sample? Free at a gov. agency? for a guy.

Asked by Glass over 7 years ago

I'm so sorry but I wouldn't have any idea since I've never worked in toxicology. And since my agency doesn't do it either I don't have anyone to ask.

Do you ever get called to crime scenes to conduct your own investigation or is the evidence brought to you for analysis? Do most forensic scientists get to do both crime scene investigations and analysis? Thanks for your time.

Asked by Chicken about 7 years ago

I do both, but it depends entirely on your department. People at smaller departments usually have to cross train and fill several roles. At larger departments with more personnel, people may specialize. The only way to know is to call the agency you want to work at and ask.

Dear forensic scientist Lisa Black ????

I do an investigation

The subject = could a victim survive a gun shot wound in the upper forehead by a 50AE Desert eagle gold 24k at 15 feet with very fast and good medical treatment?????
I can not finding any clear evidence so I hope you could answer my question????

Asked by Jeffrey about 7 years ago

I'm sorry but I would not have the slightest idea. It would depend entirely on the path of the bullet and what it hit. Sorry I couldn't help!

I asked a question a few minutes ago, but what I really meant was if you can take the case and analyze the evidence as well?

Asked by Alyne about 7 years ago

Yes, we do it every day.

What kind of degree do I need to work in forensic science? What are the pros of being a forensic scientist? What are the cons of being a forensic scientist? How is the job market in forensic science?
This is for an interview assignment.

Asked by Candace almost 7 years ago

Please email me all questions at once at

How do I become a forensic biologist? I'm starting college soon and I don't know how to start looking for majors or even colleges that would help me down the right path.

Asked by Aaingel almost 8 years ago

1. Review earlier answers to similar questions.2. Take as many science classes as you can.3. Check out the websites of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the International Association for Identification and any others you can find, and look at their Employment Opportunities section. Job postings will tell you what qualifications are required.4. Call all the crime labs in your area (city, county, state and any other location where you might want to work) and ask what degrees their staff have and what are required. (For instance my agency only requires a HS diploma but we all have at least a B.S.) Every agency will have their own requirements. Best of luck to you!!!!

Hey! Can I major in Criminal justice and still become a forensic scientist? Or do I have to major in Chemistry,Bio,Etc??

Asked by ash almost 7 years ago

The title 'forensic scientist' doesn't mean anything in particular--job titles will vary by the agency. It would be better to major in a natural science or in forensic science so you could get as much lab experience as possible, but the only way to know for sure what the job requirements are is to call the place(s) you want to work and ask.

Hi! I'm writing a mystery where the murder weapon is a maduvu, a knife with two antelope horns. I'm wondering what would distinguish the wound to make it unique to that weapon, assuming the victim was stabbed in the chest or back. Thanks!

Asked by almost 8 years ago

Wow, you'd really have to ask a pathologist. But I would assume a stab wound with a horn would look different than one from a knife, more round and uniform. You might also have a sliver of horn break off in the wound. The round wound in the flesh or bone might make a doctor think it came from a bullet at first, but with no bullet found then they might think icepick or something horn-shaped. Best of luck!

I am attending Pace University this coming fall with a degree in Forensic Science, any advice for a soon to be Forensic Scientist?

Asked by ssosiak1 about 7 years ago

You can't go wrong with a lot of science classes. When I was in college they didn't have courses specifically in forensic science, so that wasn't an option. And different agencies will have different requirements, so you might want to go online and check out the different vacancies to get some idea of what requirements are out there. You can also call labs you're interested in and ask, that way you get to 'meet' some people too.

Can you work as a CSI and as a forensic scientist at the same time? What I mean is that can you collect the evidence and analyze it as well?

Asked by Alyne about 7 years ago

Yes, that's what we do at our agency, depending on the analysis required. We can process for latent prints and analyze them and also cell phones and computers. For things like DNA analysis and bullet comparison, we send that to the state lab. Every agency is different depending upon available personnel and equipment.

What kind of background is necessary to qualify for this job? (Thank you for your time) advance

Asked by Nate over 7 years ago

That entirely depends on where you want to work. Each lab has its own requirements. My first job wanted a bachelor’s degree in any natural science. My current job just requires a HS diploma, but it helps to have advanced degrees so we all have at least a B.S. There is no uniform job definition or title for forensic work--your title is whatever your boss says it is, and crime labs can be a small place that only tests drugs and fingerprints or a large, full service place that does everything from questioned documents to DNA. 

whats the most challenging thing about your job?

Asked by kenia about 7 years ago

Worrying that I might have missed a piece of evidence at a crime scene or in a lab process.

After I graduate high school what should I do in order to pursue a career in Forensic Biology

Asked by Ailyn about 7 years ago

Plan to go to college and study biology, and try to find a college that has the specific major and courses you want.

Would you choose this field if you had to do it over again?

Asked by Campbell over 7 years ago

Yes. Unless I could make it as an architect. I would really like that too.

Would you encourage someone to go into this type of work? I apologize for all the questions I sent you. Thank you for your time.

Asked by Violet over 7 years ago

I would never want to discourage someone from this field because I love it. But it's a very popular field right now so I would also advise anyone to have a career plan B.

What are some skills and abilities a person would need to be successful in this type of work?

Asked by Violet over 7 years ago

You have to have good attention to detail, can work under stress and unpredictable circumstances, be patient and cautious. 

If you were a high school student, how would you prepare for this career?

Asked by Violet over 7 years ago

Take a lot of science classes, and keep up your English skills.

I have 2 questions please What are the maximun and minumun time ranges for the sructural changes that 'love bites' go through? Would these be quicker if on more delicate skin?

Asked by Mcbyrne over 7 years ago

Wow, I'm sorry but I have absolutely no idea. You might need to ask a pathologist.

What kind of tasks do you do on a typical day

Asked by Angel over 7 years ago

That all depends on where you work and what your job duties are. I spent about 90% of my time sitting in front of a computer looking at fingerprints. When I was at the coroner's office I probably spent 40% of the time examining victim's clothing, 10% on gunshot residue testing, 30% on hairs and fibers, and 20% everything else. 

1: What is required for your current position? Could you explain a typical day in your career? 2: what inspired you to choose this career? 3: What are some likes and dislikes about your job? what would you do change about your job?

Asked by my name is Brent and im doing a project for class where I have to ask someone with my dream job a few questions. over 6 years ago

For homework assignments can you please email me offline at: lisa-black@live. com and I can send you a list of answers to these types of questions.

If someone has taken illicit drugs in the past but has since quit, what are their chances of moving past the polygraph stage and actually being hired?

Asked by Biostudent04 over 7 years ago

Probably very good, as long as you're honest about it. They usually go over the questions before you start the polygraph so take the opportunity to tell the truth. Then, in the polygraph, you have nothing to hide.

What type of education/training does this job need to be successful in this type of work? What type of education/training have you had?

Asked by Violet over 7 years ago

See above. I have a bachelor's degree in biology, plus over a thousand hours of continuing education in forensic topics (accumulated over 20 years).

Hey Lisa:) I was wondering if DNA found in saliva is still discoverble if A) it has been watered down, for example if someone was to spit in a glass of water, and if so how much water before the DNA is too hard to find?

Asked by sandaM over 7 years ago

It would still be discoverable up to a point. How much dilution it could take, I'm afraid I don't know.

What do you enjoy most about your job? (Sorry for the typo on the last question, it was supposed to say: "(Thank you for your time in advance)"

Asked by Nate over 7 years ago

All the interesting, different, bizarre stories that make up the crimes that have happened that we have to investigate. 

How did you decide on this type of work?

Asked by Violet over 7 years ago

I loved mystery shows and books when I was a kid. I always wanted to be a detective, but didn't want to be a cop. And I always liked science.

my friend died under strange circumstances. there was alcohol, cocaine & marijuana in her toxicology report that was performed at the hospital. she was put on life support & died a few days later. her arms & legs were stiff. what does that mean? OD?

Asked by trina over 7 years ago

I'm sorry about your friend but I wouldn't have any idea what it means. You'd have to ask a doctor if stiffness of the limbs is a symptom of certain drugs.

When does a DOT worker qualify as a Coroner for a Crime scene? Why wouldnt there be a Crime Scene Unit investigating a minor child's Death, who died on Ga state owened property?

Asked by Brandy about 7 years ago

I have no idea. Do you have a copy of the autopsy report? That should be available fro the coroner's or medical examiner's office.

Is it possible for someone to shot themselves, first bulled lodge in the breast bone. throw up, pass out, come to and shot themselves a second time? Second bulled thru the heart and out the back ?

Asked by Linda over 7 years ago

Yes, quite possible. The breast bone blocked the bullet from hitting anything vital and so it wouldn't be fatal. We've had plenty of people shoot themselves in the head but the skull deflected the bullet enough that they either survived or had to fire a second shot.

Hello I am Jordan and I am in the Gift and Talented program at school and I'd love for you to answer some questions at
Please respond back.

Asked by Jordan over 7 years ago

Okay I emailed you.

What kind of hours do you work

Asked by Angel over 7 years ago

We work 40 hours a week plus overtime when needed.Right now I'm on four 10's but I was on 12 hour rotating shifts, 6 am to 6 pm, and will be going back to that next year. I liked that schedule.

Hello! I have a first quarter project that wants me to talk about a type of scientist (obviously I have chosen forensic scientists). I was wondering if i could interview you for said project. Thanks!

Asked by M.H. over 6 years ago

Sure, you can email me at, but I'm traveling and won't be able to get back to you for another week at least.

can dna from sperm be off an article of clothing?

Asked by Ifeatu over 6 years ago

Yes, absolutely.

What are the educational requirements for an entry-level position in this line of work?

Asked by Violet over 7 years ago

The requirements are whatever your employer says they are (same with your job title). DNA analysts are often required to have a PhD in genetics. At the coroner's I had to have a BS in one of the natural sciences. At my police department they only require a high school diploma, but give extra points for advanced schooling so we all have BSs. 

Is it hard to find a job when you're just starting out?

Asked by Emily about 7 years ago

It can be hard to get into any job when you're first starting out, but it depends on so many factors--what kind of position you're looking for, location, competition. An internship can help a lot as well as lots of hands-on classes in school. Best of luck.

can someone make their own fingerprints disapper from their own hands

Asked by about 7 years ago

Temporarily, with sandpaper or chemicals, but they will grow back in the same pattern.

Im doing a science assignment, and was wondering if i could email you and ask you some questions about your career as a forensic scientist. Could you email me if so! email:

Asked by Tyler about 7 years ago

Sure I'll catch you when I'm back at work tomorrow.

Please email me, I have tried to learn Forensics for my child's case, due to the Law lacking in Preserving and Safe Guarding evidence and lacking any witness statemnets although there was alit of people as potential witnesses?

Asked by Brandy about 7 years ago

Witness statements would be included with the officer's work, not the forensics unit. I'm sorry for your loss. Is there a victim's advocate at the police department that handled the crash that could help you? They could walk you through where to find all the information you want. You didn't include your email address.

:How do you use math, science, social studies, and other school subjects in your work?

Asked by Violet over 7 years ago

A good knowledge of chemistry is helpful to be able to understand why certain processes work the way they do. We use math to mix reagents and calculate angles in bloodstain pattern interpretation. Any knowledge can be helpful because we deal with every kind of person, job, situation, and object there is.

Do you ever get to go to a crime scene?

Asked by Emily about 7 years ago

Yes, all the time. That's part of my job. But that will depend on what your job is, some people work only in the lab, and others work only at crime scenes.

Is there a kind of gloves that doesn't leave gloveprints? Asking for a sort of detective story.

Asked by R-Mod over 6 years ago

Sorry I didn't answer this before, I'm on the road. I've seen glove prints occasionally--a remarkable number of burglars don't bother to use them. But I've never compared the prints to a particular glove because by definition gloves are mass produced and therefore not unique like fingerprints. I've seen ones from cloth gloves, which will leave the knit pattern behind, or latex gloves which will sort of look like a group of random bubbles crammed together.

Is there a way to tell the person's weight from their skeleton? I know you can tell age, race, old injuries and so much more. Would you be able to tell that the bones belonged to a 400lb man?

Asked by Desiré over 7 years ago

That's an excellent question but you need an anthropologist to answer it. I'm afraid I don't know. Sorry!

Can a forensic examiner analyzing evidence distinguish between a latent fingerprint from a bare hand and those produced by someone wearing gloves?

Asked by kayla lions over 6 years ago

Sure, because fingerprints will have ridges and gloves will not.

Can you figure out someone's identity by a blood sample? Like figure out their DNA and who they are?

Asked by Ashton almost 7 years ago

You can say that this blood came from this person. But you have to have a DNA sample from that person to compare it to. (A swab from inside the mouth is fine, it doesn't need to be blood.) or they need to be already in the DNA database.

I have multiple questions to ask for a school project. Should I ask them all at once?

Asked by Rachael about 7 years ago

Please email me at

How long does it take to get through a really tough case?

Asked by pkdk882 about 7 years ago

That's impossible to answer. Things can range from something like the Orlando shooting, which was massive to process but in terms of 'whodunit' it was over as soon as it began. Then you might have a person shot on the street, no casings, no witnesses--a very simple event, but nearly impossible to solve unless someone talks. Then there's every possible combination in between.

What are some pointers you would give a person concerning applying and interviewing for a job in this field?

Asked by Violet over 7 years ago

Call all the crime labs in your area and ask what their requirements are. You can also check websites such as those for the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and International Association for Identification which will post vacancies and job descriptions.

How long does it take to determine how someone died and when they died

Asked by pkdk882 about 7 years ago

I'm sorry, I answered this a week ago but somehow it didn't post. A pathologist will usually estimate time of death during the autopsy. It can be very simple and require the body temperature and not much more, or it can be very difficult and cover a wide range of possible time, especially if a lot of time has elapsed since death. The more time, the harder it gets.

what personal qualities are recommended?

Asked by kenia about 7 years ago

Attention to detail, an interest in science and the ability to occasionally work in chaos.

How can I specialize in homicide as a forensic scientist? What do I need to do to do this?

Asked by madi about 7 years ago

I'm not sure what you mean by 'specialize in homicide'. Forensic techniques can be utilized to investigate any crime, but if you mean you only want to work on homicides, then I don't know of any positions like that. The closest thing would be to work for an agency where the work is mostly homicides, such as a medical examiner's office. But even they would also investigate suicides, industrial accidents, etc.

What is the most difficult part of your job?

Asked by ac about 7 years ago

Being 'on call' and knowing you can be interrupted at any moment of the day and have to go to a crime scene, even if it's the middle of the night or a holiday. I've also had to change vacations because I have to testify in a trial. I hate that. 

If someone were to conduct an experiment using fake blood spatters, would it change the results to that of real blood splatters?

Asked by Rylee almost 7 years ago

I'm sorry, I wrote a whole answer to this but somehow it didn't post. It may, depending upon how much different from real blood the fake is, for instance if it's significantly more or less dense. But in terms of fluid characteristics it may not change it enough to even be noticeable or make much of a difference in the final analysis.

Why would the GBI send blood thru the mail, and not in Bio Hazard bag and lacking the proper Names and information on a Clear Top Vial of blood?

Asked by Brandy about 7 years ago

Sending it through the mail is not a problem if packaged properly. The color of the top depends on what kind of testing is requested, drug, DNA, etc.

If a man masturbates a few times on a towel...And his girl friend urinates on it and then wipes her self down there with it. Would it be possible to find semen in or around her vagina?

Asked by Brian over 7 years ago

I really don't know--I suppose it's possible but I don't know how urinating on it would affect it. I also don't know why one would urinate on a towel. And it sounds like you're trying to find an innocent explanation for your girlfriend's parents on the occasion of her unexpected pregnancy. Either way,, good luck.

How long is your average report for a case?

Asked by Emily about 7 years ago

About two pages.

Hi I have a job interview tomorrow. Can you tell me the difference about criminal justice DNA and crime Scene DNA? And also what would you do if two samples where switched or contaminated in the lab? And what types of questions came up in interview?

Asked by Jen about 7 years ago

I don't know what you mean by that--DNA is DNA. Samples being switched is one situation, and contaminated is another. Obviously the situation would have to be remedied and the samples re-analyzed. Questions will probably be a combination of general interview questions such as 'what are your strengths' and questions about your specific training and experience in forensic topics. Good luck!

What characteristics does someone need for this job

Asked by Angel over 7 years ago

You have to have good attention to detail, can work under stress and unpredictable circumstances, be patient and cautious. 

Hi. Will a combination of chlorine bleach, gasoline and paint thinner destroy blood DNA?
Thank you :)

Asked by Ayden about 7 years ago

As far as I know, the chlorine bleach alone will do it.

What does a dead body smell like?

Asked by Sabrina almost 7 years ago

That depends on how much time has elapsed and the environment. Of course the more time, the longer it's been the more decomposition will have occurred. A very fresh body might not smell like much of anything and a very decomposed one can smell like terrible bodily functions or really rotten garbage. A very dry environment might cause the body to desiccate (much less smelly) or a wet one will prompt more decomposition.

What type of case do you have most often and when is your busiest time of year?

Asked by Emily about 7 years ago

Where I live we have many burglaries. There really isn't a busiest time of year, though things sometimes pick up when the kids are out of school. When I worked at the coroner's office I also swore there were more homicides in September and December.

Which is better doing a bachelor in pharmacy and then masters in forensic science or bachelor in forensic science and then masters in forensic science

Asked by Prakhar Choudhary over 7 years ago

That would depend on what it is you want to do. If you want to work on crime scenes, then I would say to major in forensic science. If you want to work in a toxicology lab, then the degree in pharmacy might be better. I really don't know so I would examine job requirements listed in online vacancy postings, or call agencies at which you might want to work and ask them. Best of luck!!

In the case of a partial hanging (person on knees), if complete rigor has set in when the body was taken down, is it still possible for the blood to pool on the back?

Asked by Terry about 7 years ago

According to a little chart I have tacked up above my desk, livor mortis sets at about the same time as complete rigor mortis, so it could be possible. But you really need a pathologist to answer that.

How does this career affect your lifestyle

Asked by Angel over 7 years ago

When i go to a party people want to talk to me. That never happened before. Otherwise, it doesn't, except for the obvious scheduling/overtime problems.

Is there much if any room for mistakes in your job? How sever are the consequences? Can a forensic scientist redeem himself/herself after a mistake or is that the end of the line for him/her? How can mistakes be avoided? Much appreciate for your time

Asked by Ahmed Jordan about 7 years ago

Like any other line of work, it all depends upon the mistake made, what effects it had, and how culpable you are. If it's a typo, just fix it and maybe make a note in the file. If you get someone killed, your boss will probably have to fire you. If it was an honest mistake, then you might get a note in your file. If you steal or invent evidence, you'll be fired and probably not work again.

Is it correct process to declare cardiac arrest or heart attack as reason for death without internally examining the heart purely based on symptoms of other organs? If examination of heart necessary, is it done at forensic lab or at autopsy?

Asked by Raja about 7 years ago

Examination of the heart would be done at the autopsy by a pathologist, and since I'm not a pathologist I'm afraid I cannot address your first question.

If a deceased is found on a soft surface such as a bed with no lividity or rigor mortis, what can be said about the estimated time of death?

Asked by Erica M over 7 years ago

Whether a surface is soft or hard wouldn't affect the presence of lividity or rigor mortis, they would develop regardless. It might affect the pattern of lividity (whiter at the pressure points).

So unless the gloves and/or surface had some form of dirt or oil or other sort of substance that would make a print form, if both were completely spotless, there would be no gloveprints?

Asked by R-Mod over 6 years ago

Probably not. Fingerprints are left usually because skin has oils and sweat, which of course gloves wouldn't have.

Can cigarette remains (Butts, partially smoked, etc.) be used to identify time in forensic investigation? (ex: Staleness)

Asked by Wolf - Research for Novel over 6 years ago

Not as far as I know. I think that would be too difficult because even if you could assess staleness, you wouldn't know how fast the person smokes a pack, therefore how long the pack had been open, how it had been stored, etc.

- What is trace evidence? Are fingerprints considered trace evidence?
- How is evidence collected and documented?
- What is some frequently used equipment in the lab/ what are they used to look for?

Asked by AP over 6 years ago

I'm afraid those questions are much to broad for me to summarize here. See if your library has copies of Richard Saferstein's Forensic Science Handbooks or his smaller volumes on forensics.

What is the future outlook for this profession?

Asked by Candace almost 7 years ago

DNA and digital forensics will continue to grow in terms of technology and attention.

I am Aminul from India. I got 49% in my HSC board exam can I became a forensic scientist.

Asked by Mohammed Aminul Islam shaikh about 7 years ago

I'm sorry but I wouldn't have any idea what an HSC exam is or what a good score is.Best of luck to you!

When measuring blood splatters, does the type of blood affect the diameter measurement?

Asked by Rylee almost 7 years ago

There's only two kinds of blood, blood and menstrual blood, and as far as I know there's been no studies using menstrual blood.

I was wondering, do people have different patterns on each finger? One finger tented arch, one plain arch sort of thing?

Asked by Amelia H. over 7 years ago

Yes, absolutely. Most people will have a mix of patterns on their fingers.

Ex branded my arm with writing . Heated something small and wrote name all over. Barley burns skin. Trying to make it stand out to take picture or somehow lift like finger print. I tried with finger dust powder from hobby store.???? any suggestions?

Asked by Larry over 6 years ago

If you could possibly create different colored filters for your camera with transparent, colored films? That might enhance the writing. That's all I can think of, sorry!

-What is your favorite part of working in forensics?
-Is there anything about this field of work that you don’t like?
-What was your minor in college?
-Are there any classes you suggest taking while in high school?

Asked by shelby about 7 years ago

That every day is different.I don't like after-hours calls. I didn't have a minor. As many science classes as you can.

Can I interview you on this for a school project?

Asked by Samantha about 7 years ago

Sure, email me at

Hi I’m in 9th grade doing an interview project-How much does a person usually make in this career? What kind of lifestye does this career provide? What skills should I develop for this career? What are the day to day duties of this job?

Asked by Mandy P. over 6 years ago

Email me at and I’ll send answers.

Did you ever puke or feel funny on a certain case?

Asked by MarieAbend over 6 years ago

I got a little queasy at my very first autopsy, but since then, no.

I played a video game recently that had two murderers - separate murders - freeze their respective victims' bodies to throw off the time of death. Does that actually work? If so, how long does it take to unfreeze?

Asked by R-Mod over 6 years ago

Changing the ambient temperature either up or down and then changing it back will affect a pathologist's estimate of time of death because they usually take that into consideration. I couldn't guess how long it would take it to unfreeze, but at room temperature I would think several hours at a minimum.

How many hours do you put in a day

Asked by jon57 over 6 years ago

Whatever you’re scheduled to work—depending on your agency’s setup you might work 8, 10, 12 hour shifts, maybe plus overtime call-outs.

Very very sorry to disturb so many times our case pathologist did not examine hyoid bone. He sent it to forensic lab. However flab did not report receiving it. In the concl pathologist declared hyoid bone intact. When he examined hyoid bone?confused

Asked by Raja over 7 years ago

Okay, so if I'm following this:The pathologist says he sent the hyoid to the forensic lab.The forensic lab says it didn't receive it. The pathologist report says the hyoid was intact.

It seems to me that the 2nd and 3rd statements contradict the first, and since as far as I know pathologists and not labs examine hyoid bones, my guess is that the first statement is an error, either a typo or a misstatement and the bone was never sent to the lab. The only way to know for sure is to ask the pathologist. Just call the ME or coroner's office and ask for an appointment to come in or to phone in order to ask that pathologist a few questions about the report. Such offices are usually very careful to make a family comfortable so I'm sure they will be willing to address your concerns. Best of luck!

can a person erase their fingerprints w/ household cleaning products

Asked by about 7 years ago

From an object? Sure, if you clean the surface thoroughly.

Do forensic scientist have to specialize into one field like serology, latent print, toxicology, etc. or can they be multidisciplinary in the sense that one day they work on entomology another they do blood spatter and so on?

Asked by Chicken Jr. about 7 years ago

see question above.

My son was killed a year ago. They ruled his death a suicide by hanging (belt).knew this was bs.thx 2 you answering my question, can you tell me if I can get his record on my own,or do I need an attorney 2 get thm . I tlkd 2 detective, was blown off

Asked by Jennifer bowers almost 7 years ago

I'm sorry for your loss. It depends on what you mean by 'record.' You shoudl be able to get a copy of the autopsy report from the Medical Examiner's or Coroner's office. You can get a copy of the police report from the Records department of the police station. I don't know if you could get a copy of all the detective's notes, which would likely be just a few jottings in a notebook, or any notes that they took while speaking to witnesses, etc.--that may vary by department/state. You may have to make a public records request through your city hall, and notes, witness statements, etc. may not qualify as 'public record.' Again, this varies by location. And, speaking from experience, I'm sure it hurts that the detectives are blowing you off, but they are not doing it because they're hiding something or because they don't care. A great many people kill themselves (this came as a major surprise to me when I started in this field) and very, very often family/friends don't want to accept it and insist that it couldn't happen. They are figuring that if they give it some time, acceptance will come. Best of luck to you.

So I eventually want to enter into being a forensics analysist, but I've encountered a problem. I recently got a medical marijuana card for a medical problem. And I am not a frequent user. Can I basically forget about being an forensics analysist.

Asked by Carisma almost 7 years ago

I don't see why as that would be perfectly legal.

Sample of which body part do you use to perform a dna check of a john doe if you have to

Asked by Mystery about 7 years ago

From live people we usually take a buccal swab from the inside of the mouth. From a deceased person, we can use any part from which we can extract DNA, such as blood, bone, teeth, etc.

I'm writing a short story and would like to know what a body would decompose like after being left unburied in a forest in January, heavy snowfall, and discovered in February? Thank you so much!

Asked by rose over 6 years ago

I'm not an expert in that particular aspect, but I know from experience that it will make a big difference if the area was continuously frozen as opposed to freezing, then thawing, then freezing again and so on. If it was continuously frozen there might not be too much decomposition at all. If it freezes and thaws continuously then it could be quite decomposed, especially if its not covered with anything like dirt or even leaves. Plus under those circumcstances I would expect a lot more animal activity.

Do I need a bachelor's degree in both forensic science and Biology to become a forensic biologist, because many universities i like don't offer forensics, so i'd have to take forensics at a 2 year college