I Heart My Science Career! An Interview with a Forensic Scientist

By Scientific Minds
03 August, 2016

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 In an effort to inspire students to pursue STEM careers and interests, "I Heart My Science Career" highlights a person with a career in the sciences. Today's Scientific Minds interview is with Emily Esquivel, Laboratory Director and Forensic Scientist.



SM:  What is your current job title and where do you work?

EE:  I am the Laboratory Director at Jefferson County Regional Crime Laboratory in Beaumont, TX.

SM:  What is your education background? What degrees or training did you receive?

EE:  I earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Lamar University in 2001.

SM:  What inspired you to choose your college major?

EE:  I originally went to school for nursing and realized very soon nursing was not the career path for me. I wanted to stay in a science field and knew I had a strong background in mathematics, so I chose a major that was the best of both worlds, Chemistry. 

SM:  Have you made any changes in your original career path? If so, why?  

EE:  Yes, I originally went to work as a lab technician with a company contracting at ExxonMobil. I worked there the year following college graduation. I then went on to work for two years at Little Cypress Mauriceville High School as a chemistry teacher, leaving in 2004 to work at the Crime Lab. For the last twelve years I have been employed at the Crime Lab as a forensic scientist, working in the field of controlled substances and toxicology. I was promoted to Laboratory Director in February 2016.

SM:  How did you find your current job? What job-hunting resources did you use?

EE:  My high school chemistry teacher recommended me for a forensic scientist job at the Crime Lab. She knew of my background in chemistry and had gone on to work at the Crime Lab herself. This was right before all the CSI shows became so popular. The popularity of forensic science and interest in the field now make every forensic job opening highly competitive.

SM:  Describe a typical day at work.  

EE:  On a typical day as a forensic scientist, I would be in the lab doing chemical analysis on evidence from cases such as possession of illegal drugs or determining the alcohol concentration of a blood sample from a suspect accused of drinking and driving. After all analysis in a case is complete, I would spend some time writing technical reports on my findings. These reports would then be submitted to the police agency that requested the analysis. I also spend some time explaining reports to police officers, detectives, and attorneys. Now as the Laboratory Director, I oversee the daily operations of the Crime Lab, which includes tasks such as supervision of department personnel, maintaining the operational budget, and laboratory compliance with accreditation criteria (continuous documentation). 

SM:  What parts of your job do you enjoy the most?

EE:  The best part of this job is every day brings in something different! The majority of days are spent analyzing evidence, but I could be out in the field collecting evidence at crime scenes, lecturing at training seminars for law enforcement personnel, or even spending a day in court.

SM:  What parts of your job do you enjoy the least?

EE:  Testifying as a scientific expert in court, giving testimony regarding findings of analysis and examination of evidence. Even though I have testified on numerous occasions, each time I testify is still nerve racking. The job of the expert witness is to explain analysis (that can sometimes be quite scientific) in a way that everyone in the courtroom can understand.

SM:  What career advice do you think high schools and colleges should be giving students?

EE:  Work on your communication skills. Ten people might have the same degree, a few might have better grades than the rest, but what sets one apart is if he/she can communicate with peers and others.

SM:  What is the salary range for people in your career?

EE:  $55,000 - $90,000

SM:  Since beginning your career, what other science-related job opportunities have you learned about that you find interesting?

EE:  Chemical engineering, medical research, biotechnology, and anthropology

SM:  Do you have any additional comments?

EE:  Find something you love to do! The sky is the limit. You can work in so many different areas with science.

Is there a science career you would like to learn more about? Leave us a comment, and we'll plan an interview! 

The "I Heart My Science Career" Blog Goals – To highlight someone working in a science-related field so that students may learn the following:

1. There are abundant and diverse career opportunities that are not typically presented to them as science careers.

2. People just like them, with similar backgrounds, are working in these jobs.

3. Careers often take exciting paths that couldn’t have been predicted when choosing a science major or graduating with a specific degree in science. The world of science is ever-changing, and so are jobs that involve science.

Check out the Science Sidekicks (grades 3-5), the Science Starters (grades 6-8), Biology Starters or Chemistry Starters with a Free Trial!

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Comments

I am going to Lamar University in the fall for Forensic Chemistry in Fall 2017 and this made me even more curious about the field I'm going to enter.

Marisol

20 April, 2017 08:42 AM

Reply



I think that is such an interesting career choice! Best of luck to you, Marisol, as you begin this journey.

Kathy

20 April, 2017 09:30 AM


         
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