As a regular feature on our blog, we interview people from the field of Forensic Science. Whether a one-on-one with a Think Forensic staff member, someone working in a forensic discipline, or a student paving the way for a career in the industry, we want to highlight as many aspects of the field of forensics as we can.
Our first in the series is with forensic science student, Ryan Guntrip.
TF: Hello, Ryan, thanks for talking to Think Forensic. We’d love to know how you got started in the field of forensic science. What made you choose this subject in college, over other mathematical, analytical or science-based courses?
Ryan: I’ve always been interested in the police and criminal investigations from being very young – my initial plan was to join the police as an officer. As I progressed through school I also developed a keen interest in science, particularly biology and chemistry. Forensic science, therefore, represented my interest of police/criminal investigation and the biology and chemistry aspects I enjoyed.
TF: Though many strands of forensic science exist, and taking into account that it’s intrinsic to our criminal justice system, we still suspect it’s not first on the list of careers when students begin to narrow down their choices. What was your experience – did you get lots of support from your school or college to follow this path?
Ryan: By the time I realised forensic science was the career for me, I was in my last year of secondary school. The careers team and my science teachers gave me lots of advice on how to enter the forensic science field, and which subjects would help me get to this stage. At college, I found the staff to be very supportive; they offered me plenty of one-to-one meetings to discuss the different paths I could take to enter the world of forensics.
TF: Which derivative(s)/discipline(s)of forensic science interest or intrigue you the most, and why?
Ryan: For me, blood spatter analysis/interpretation and ballistics. When I first researched the different specialisms I was amazed at what can be deduced from blood pattern analysis (e.g. what type of weapon was used, the direction of the weapon, etc.) With ballistics, the idea of being able to match a bullet to the gun it was fired from also interested me.
TF: What would be your ultimate role in forensic science, and why?
Ryan: Either a Scene of Crime Officer, or a police forensic scientist specialising in blood spatter analysis or ballistics. Being a SOCO has always stood out for me. Going to the scene of a crime, processing the scene first-hand, and being able to contribute to the evidence-gathering – from initial crime scene all the way through to courtroom verdict….certainly not a job you could do with your eyes closed! I’d really enjoy the challenge.
TF: We talk a lot on our blog, and in our workshops, of how much real-life forensics differs from the portrayal of police work on TV. From your experience, how do you feel shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation represent the field?
Ryan: I feel that, particularly on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the techniques used are largely authentic; however, the time it takes to solve the crimes is complete fiction – which it has to be, of course, for the story-line, audience and TV slots. For example, dusting for fingerprints with an electrostatic dust lifter is a common occurrence on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, but the application of the technique is hugely condensed. Viewers only glimpse a portion of the methodology.
TF: You attended one of our workshops….what were the standout elements of the day for you?
Ryan: When I attended the CSI experience day at Think Forensic, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The best part was that we got to investigate different crime scenes using real forensic techniques and equipment, with guidance from people experienced in that forensic field. It was great to have some of the skills explained in greater detail, and to be able to practice with actual equipment before going on to the crime scenes. Another standout element was that the staff were so friendly and enthusiastic about forensics that it made the whole experience even more fun and interesting; I think this really helps when learning more about a subject area.
Thank you, Ryan – and good luck with your studies! We’re sure you’ll do very well.
Ryan Guntrip is a second-year A-Level student at John Leggott College, studying Biology, Chemistry, Psychology and Sociology. His main hobby is dog training, where he is an obedience instructor; he also participates in the classes with his own dog. He has been doing this for the last four years and thoroughly enjoys it.