It’s All About the Science
During the summer of her junior year, Janelle Leo '17 interned at the Center for Forensic Science and Research Education in collaboration with the National Medical Services Lab in Willow Grove, Pa. There she spent up to 40 hours per week combining classroom work with laboratory experiences, while taking a summer course in organic chemistry.
Her internship was the first of its kind; previously, the Center provided internships only to graduate students from schools with which they are affiliated.
Last summer was the first time that they reserved space for undergraduate students who were interested in either forensic biology, forensic chemistry and forensic toxicology, and Leo was one of the select few to be granted this opportunity.
She had hands-on experiences learning how to use instrumentation to perform analytical tests in an actual forensic laboratory. While processing mock casework, Leo ultimately became proficient in following standard operating procedures, running instrumentation and conducting data analysis. The internship concluded with a courtroom-based mock trial where she and her fellow interns served as expert witnesses and attorneys to conduct direct and cross examinations. The main focus was for them to be able to recognize forensic evidence at crime scenes and understand its potential value for analysis to generate information for case investigation
Leo says she chose CHC specifically for its forensic biology program and loves the friendly atmosphere, small campus and science faculty. “They are great to work with and explain everything thoroughly so you know how to do your job. Without such great professors, I don't think that I would have enough confidence to pursue an internship of such prestige and be able to apply the basic skills I learned in my classes to the assignments I received at the internship,” she says.
Leo was recently inducted as a student affiliate member of the American Academy of Forensic Science, a multi-disciplinary, prestigious professional organization founded in 1948 that provides leadership to advance science and its application to the legal system. Its objectives are to promote professionalism, integrity, competency, education, foster research, improve practice, and encourage collaboration in the forensic sciences.
Right now, as Leo prepares to graduate and readies herself to enter Arcadia University’s Graduate Forensic Program in the fall, she talks about her long-term goals.
“I want to give back to the CHC Science Department by starting a scholarship program specifically for forensic biology or chemistry majors who want to participate in internships abroad or who need help with their tuition,” says Leo. “I also intend to get my Ph.D. in forensic science so I can teach at CHC.”
— Brenda Lange