In yesterday’s post, I wrote about my visits to Burlington House and said that I’d met an interesting new acquaintance. Her name is Andrea and she has recently been appointed to the newly-created position at the Royal Society of Chemistry of Diversity Manager. (Her work will be vital in not only attracting minorities of all kinds to the study of chemistry, but also in helping to develop their careers later on.) Prior to that, she was a forensic scientist for thirteen years, until the government closed down its forensic science unit.
My ears pricked up when I heard this. I was also fascinated to learn that Andrea was brought up in a village close to mine. More than once I’ve made DI Tim Yates say that he doesn’t believe in coincidences, but truth is obviously stranger than fiction, as this is the second big coincidence that’s happened to me in less than a week (the first was meeting Carol Shennan, with whom I was at school in Spalding decades ago, in Bookmark).
Andrea has kindly agreed to be interviewed for the blog in a few weeks’ time. She’s also sent me an article that she wrote about being a forensic scientist for Chemistry, the RSC’s magazine. I won’t spoil my future post after I’ve interviewed her by quoting too much from it now, but here is a taster:
I became a forensic scientist long before shows like CSI and its spin-offs resulted in the general public having a distorted view of how forensic science is used by police forces to investigate crime. Forget Armani suits; most of the time we were dealing with skanky knickers, jumpers crawling with bugs, and clothes so sodden with blood that they had gone mouldy in the packaging.
A DNA profile in minutes – no chance! Our quickest test took around 12 hours and there were times that we had to wait well over a week. CSI also doesn’t show the endless samples of ‘touch DNA’ that fail to give a DNA profile at all, or ones that give a profile so complex it is uninterpretable. Nor do they feature the heart-wrenching cases that demonstrate the depravity that exists in our society: cases involving babies, the elderly or vulnerable; people who are murdered simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Riveting, isn’t it? I look forward very much to talking to Andrea again soon.