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Matt.JPGDylan Matt, senior forensic science major 

Academic extern, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation in London, Ohio 

Dylan Matt spent the summer of 2014 answering questions such as “can a person transfer DNA to another person by grabbing his or her wrist?” and “can DNA be transferred during the laundry process?” The senior forensic science major invested many hours in the trace lab of the Ohio Bureau of Criminial Investigation. 

He practiced identifying hairs and fibers using a comparison microscope and was trained to process cases of fracture matches in the way of professional forensic scientists. He helped to search and code a shoe tread database and learned how to collect oral and skin swabbings. Matt also performed a number of extractions and analyses of DNA, including the transfer by laundry and skin. He and a fellow extern co-authored papers outlining the results of the study. 

While at Waynesburg University, Matt has the opportunity to utilize professional instrumentation through experimentations and mock scenarios in his laboratory classes. These state-of-the-art instrumentation and tools include high and low power comparison microscopes, polarized light microscope and scanning electron microscope with energy dispersive spectroscopy, among others. Matt credits his experiences in his Waynesburg classes for preparing him for his internship. 

“I definitely learned a lot at Waynesburg University before going into this internship, and I also learned so much from this internship that will better prepare me for my future career,” Matt said. “I gained valuable knowledge and experience working in the field of forensic science. I also developed friendships and professional colleagues and experience working in a professional environment.”

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_LeCain_Elizabeth_7.JPGWaynesburg University compels many students to step outside of their comfort zones when applying to internship positions. But for Elizabeth LeCain, a senior forensic science major from Andover, Mass., a cross-country road trip to her research internship in Golden, Colo., didn’t scare her at all.

“Being able to drive across the country was great,” LeCain said. “I managed to see half of the states and many of the National Parks, which was just incredible.”

LeCain spent the summer of 2013 as an Undergraduate Research Associate with the Colorado School of Mines as a part of a national Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). She synthesized one of several different monomers to create a polymer, working toward the overall goal of improving solar cell efficiency.

The senior, who is actively involved in University student chapters and activities including the American Chemical Society Student Affiliates, Gamma Sigma Epsilon Chemistry Honorary Society, Kamma Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honorary Society and serves as a lab assistant in the department of chemistry, believes that her extra-curricular studies helped secure the internship.

“Most of my time at the internship was spent trying to purify different products so that they would be of high enough quality to use in a future reaction,” LeCain said. “My favorite part was when we finally formed the polymer and were able to see it precipitate, indicating that the polymer had in fact formed.”

The process of forming the polymer required much trial and error, as well as patience, practical application and laboratory experience. Mostly, LeCain said that her classes at Waynesburg University aided immensely in her internship success.

“I learned several laboratory techniques in my labs at Waynesburg that I was able to utilize in Colorado,” LeCain said. “Also, the skills I have acquired in keeping a lab notebook and writing lab reports at Waynesburg were helpful in doing those same tasks at my internship.”

Though she expected to work in the Colorado School of Mines’ laboratories most of the summer, LeCain said she didn’t anticipate to be granted such autonomy in her research.

“I wasn't expecting to be on my own as much as I was, but that forced me to solve a lot of problems,” she said. “This reminded me that there is a reason for everything and helped me to keep an open mind toward all the changes I had to make. I was there to learn, and I was able to do that. There was a lot of new information I had to absorb and it was a challenge, but Waynesburg University prepared me for that.”

 

 

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Angelic-Wray-2.jpg

Being accepted into a program available to graduate students currently enrolled in a specific program at a specific university is something nearly impossible for most outsiders.

With perseverance and a thorough interview, however, Angelic Wray, a senior forensic science major, became the first student outside of Arcadia University’s Forensic Science graduate program to become a Research Assistant and Mentor for the G. John DiGregorio Summer Mentoring Program at the Forensic Mentors Institute (FMI).

“I wanted to expose myself to research opportunities in my field, determine what field of forensics was best for me and challenge myself to a side of chemistry I was uncomfortable with,” Wray said.

Like many who have applied for and received internship opportunities, Wray’s experience consisted of tremendous commitment. Over a period of several months, Wray corresponded with the program director as well as the entire FMI staff through a series of emails where she described her interest in the program and her experience in forensics, biology and chemistry at Waynesburg.

From June 21 to Aug. 24, 2013, Wray put forth 367 hours of research and mentorship where she assisted students with hands-on learning such as data analysis, lab techniques, presentations and public speaking practice.

Her focused research project was to “validate the basic liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) developed in house using the Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS) for the screening of common drugs in urine.”

“Samples were analyzed using the SCAN-MT and SCAN-MT DER method on the GC-MS for the detection of common drugs,” Wray said.

The G. John DiGregorio Summer Mentoring Program is an eight-week program held annually during the summer as an opportunity for high school students to become prepared for college and the forensic science field through practical learning and mentorship.

“I expected the internship to be showing students how to do different science techniques and apply it to a research project,” Wray said. “However, it was much more than what I expected. I needed to not only show them how to conduct authentic research, but use their findings as a starting point for the experiment.”

Trying to get high school students to understand certain science terminology, concepts and procedures was Wray’s biggest challenge, but watching them grow was something well worth the effort.

“Many [students] started out shy and had very little public speaking skills, but developed great confidence by the end of the program,” Wray said. “Just knowing I was able to bring that growth out of the students brought me great joy. Every day was a combination of great work, disaster and fun.”

As a student at Waynesburg, Wray is involved in several activities. She is a member of Waynesburg’s American Chemical Society (ACS), EcoStewards Club, Forensic Science Club, Future Alumni Society, Gospel Choir, Leadership Scholarship and is a Waynesburg University Student Ambassador.

Wray credits her confidence and precise problem solving skills, among other things, during her internship this summer to her involvement in activities, clubs and courses at Waynesburg.
Not only was an impact made on Wray through her experience, an impact was also made on the students she challenged. Left in the form of a short “mentor appreciation” note, student mentees claimed Wray inspired them to become better scientists, making it one of the most enjoyable summers they have ever experienced.

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