Forensic scientists are the people who analyze the evidence collected at the crime scene. Forensic scientists perform both a chemical and a physical analysis on the evidence that has been submitted. Most forensic scientists work on criminal cases and are called criminalists, although there are some who work in civil law with evidence.
On the criminal side of things, while some scientists are generalists working with things such as clinical or field work, there are many different specialized fields that forensic scientists can work in.
A few different jobs that can be held include:
Forensic Engineers – This job uses math and science and applies that to solving and reconstruction. The reconstruction can range from communication networks to molecular. Examples include: Aircrafts, bones, and implants.
Digital Forensic Scientists– These forensic scientists often find themselves sitting in front of a computer doing computer imaging.
Forensic Serologists-This job examines biological fluids such as blood. A forensic serologist will spend most of their time in a laboratory analyzing the evidence that has been collected for them by crime scene investigators.
Forensic Pathologists – This job includes studying diseases and determining cause of death. Other duties can include going to the scene to collect, examine, and document evidence before it is sent to the lab.
Forensic Psychologists/Psychiatrists – This job can either be in the criminal field or in the civil field. Typically their time is spent meeting with judges and lawyers. Forensic psychologists and psychiatrists are also trained in giving expert testimony.
Toxicologists –This job includes the study of the effects of chemicals or drugs on the body. Most of these effects are determined through testing on samples of bodily fluid or tissue. For this job, knowledge of chemistry and pharmacology is useful.
There are also many different specialized fields that forensic scientists can work in. They are as follows:
Controlled substances and toxicology – Those in this field work on determining if there is alcohol, drugs, or poison in samples of blood or skin tissue.
Biology – Those in the biology field are typically working with factoring DNA. This can be from hair or biological fluids.
Chemistry– Those working in the chemistry field generally work with paint, soil, blood spatters and glass.
Document examination– This field can include working with forgery, document dating and analyzing, handwriting, typewriting, computer printing, and photo copying.
Firearms and tool-mark identification – This field includes having to match a projectile to a firearm using identifying characteristics, as well as matching a tool to the imprint/mark that it left behind.
Fingerprinting – This field matches the fingerprints of an unknown individual to prints that are on file. Technology helps speed up this process by allowing scientists to compare prints at a very high rate.
Psychophysical detection of deception exam – this field deals with the examination of the polygraph test. The polygraph detects changes in heart and pulse rate. After the test is performed a forensic scientist examines the results.
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