CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 8, 2015 – Abbey Stier of Sherman, Illinois, got an up-close view of the work of forensic chemists this summer when she rolled up her sleeves in the Illinois State Police (ISP) crime lab in Belleville, Illinois.
Abbey had the opportunity to learn in the newest of the ISP’s six crime labs, working side by side with chemists and forensic specialists in the collection, analysis, and storage of evidence and other crime related data. Part of this analysis included running previously collected and analyzed samples through a gas chromatograph and mass spectrometer. This machine breaks down samples and prints out analyses of their components.
She says she used this equipment to try to replicate and determine the identity of an unknown peak produced from a sample of synthetic marijuana.
“I was able to see the inner workings of the forensic crime lab and it really confirmed that being a forensic scientist is the career path that I want,” Abbey said. “I also recommend a summer internship for any student that is able to do it.”
Abbey entered this internship with the hope she would learn more about the day to day operations and tasks performed in the crimes lab, as well as the tasks performed by crimes scene investigators outside the lab.
A forensic chemistry major at Southeast Missouri State University, Abbey said she feels her time at the crime lab helped put her career choice into perspective. She was able to gain experience working in various departments, including drug chemistry, trace chemistry, firearms, latent prints, DNA/biology and crime scene investigation.
“Towards the end of the internship, we got to test fire different types of guns. We then collected the bullets, as well as the bullet casings and compared them to each other, and pictures on file. I looked for markings and striations on the casings, as well as the bullet itself, that would be useful in identifying the weapon that fired the round,” Abbey says.
In addition to the internship, Abbey is currently the chapter president of Delta Delta Delta. She is also the treasurer of Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society. She works as a senior orientation leader and Opening Week Leader, is involved in Phi the Forensic Science Club and has been inducted into Phi Eta Sigma.
Eventually Abbey hopes to earn her bachelor’s degree from Southeast and pursue a career as a forensic scientist or potentially a medical examiner.