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Students present their discoveries at Forensic Science Research Day 2018

Forensic Science Research Day 2018 participants.
Forensic Science Research Day 2018 participants.

Hands-on learning opportunities go hand in hand with academic experiences for students at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. For fourth-year Forensic Science students this includes Forensic Science Research Day, an annual event where students present the findings of their year-long research projects to an audience of peers, faculty, professionals and family.

“Forensic Science Research Day provides an invaluable experience for students who are ready to graduate and start their careers, by helping them hone their communication skills,” says Hélène LeBlanc, PhD, Forensic Science Program Director and Associate Professor, Faculty of Science. “After delving deeply into a specific research topic, students must take everything they’ve learned and condense it into a short presentation the average person can understand. This is a crucial skill for forensic scientists, who may be asked to testify as an expert witness in court.”

Fourth-year students presented their findings in one of three areas:

  • Directed Studies (DS) Project: Students attempt to identify gaps in current forensic science research through independent investigation of a current topic in a specialized area.
  • Mock Crime Scene Practicum: Studentsinvestigate a simulated major crime scene and apply the knowledge and practical skills they have gained—from collecting and identifying evidence, to displaying findings as testimony in a mock court of law.
  • Thesis Research Project: Students design their own experiments and contribute their findings to a relevant field of forensic science.

These year’s Mock Crime Scene Practicum students presented together for 25 minutes; Thesis Research Project students presented for 15 minutes, and the DS students for five. They then answered questions from the audience.

David Robertson, Adjunct Professor with the university’s Forensic Science program and retired Durham Region Police Service (DRPS) Detective Constable, delivered the keynote address.

Select student projects and testimonials:

“I enjoyed the process of learning about fly physiology and anatomy. While I previously would not have considered forensic entomology as a career path because I didn’t know enough about it, now that I’ve been exposed to it and have researched it, I love it.”
- Mirai Gendi: The effect of developmental maturity of female blowfly Phormia regina (Diptera: Calliphoridae) on EAG response to decomposition volatile organic compounds

“I was very nervous presenting my research in front of everyone, but it’s definitely going to help me in my career. I might have to make more presentations in the future. Having to summarize what I learned during my four years of university in a matter of minutes was a valuable experience.”
- Kendra Rogers: Mock Crime Scene Practicum

"I plan to go into policing, so the Mock Crime Scene Practicum gave me additional practical experience in processing a crime scene that I will be able to apply later on in my career.”
- Sarah Wildman: Mock Crime Scene Practicum