What do Forensic Scientists Actually Do?

We’re all fans of the forensic science TV shows like CSI, Forensic Files, and NCIS, but have you ever wondered what a forensic scientist actually does in the lab? Read about real forensic science as experienced by first year forensic science graduate students in Essays on the Elements of Forensic Science 2015.
The Master of Science in Forensic Science program is one of only 16 programs in the US accredited by FEPAC, the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission. Our program prepares students for careers in various forensic science and conventional analytical laboratories, emphasizing the application of scientific methods and technologies to legal proceedings. It may also be used to build a strong foundation for doctoral and professional studies and offers the opportunity for students to pursue a graduate certificate in computer forensics that involves additional, elective coursework.

MSFS Class of 2017. The MSFS Class of 2017. Left to right, back: Alexis, Georgie, Elise, Chris, Ren. Left to right, front Sara, Bria, Amber, and Tobiah (Computer Forensics).According to the National Institute of Justice, students wishing to pursue a career in forensic science should be aware that positions in these fields usually require extensive background checks similar to those required for law enforcement personnel, and are likely a condition of employment. Graduates from the UAB Master of Science in Forensic Science program are very successful in gaining employment within a year of graduating. During the period 2012-2015, 31 students completed the program. Of these, 28 are working in a laboratory or continuing their education (e.g., pursuing a doctorate, professional degree, or second master's degree). Eighteen of the graduates are employed in forensic science laboratories, ranging from those operated by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences to the Greensboro, North Carolina, Police Department.

The MSFS class of 2016. The MSFS class of 2016. Left to right, back: NaTasha Carter, Brittany Kriz (2015/2016 Graduate Assistant), Kelly Texter, Stacy Wolff. Left to right, front: Mary S. Eley (winner of the 2015/2016 Embry Scholarship), Amber Brown.The program support includes many UAB faculty members from other departments, personnel from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences' Birmingham laboratory, the Jefferson County Medical Examiner's Office, and local forensic science-related private institutions. In addition, the program maintains a close working relationship with the DNA profiling laboratories of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and hosts the editorial offices of the Forensic Science Review (the only review journal in forensic science). Faculty research and practice focus especially on forensic aspects of drug chemistry and DNA-based identification.

Further Information

For more information contact the Director of Graduate Studies in Forensic Science, Elizabeth Gardner.