A group of forensic investigation students at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville had the opportunity to learn more about the field by attending two virtual conferences, the 74th Annual Scientific Conference hosted by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) and Mayo Clinic’s 7th Annual Forensic Science Symposium. The research based AAFS conference took place in Seattle, Washington, in February, where professionals, educators and students presented their research results. The Mayo Clinic symposium was held in April in Rochester, Minnesota, and covered topics related to death investigations. Timothy Juedes, UW-Platteville lecturer of criminal justice and forensic investigation, said the events gave students an insight into the different areas of forensic sciences.
“There is so much more going on in the forensic realm than what we teach. We are teaching textbooks, our personal experiences and different trainings, but there are a ton of things on top of that which are being conducted,” said Juedes. “It’s good exposure for our students to see what is happening in forensic sciences, whether it’s in a lab or at a scene.”
Abby Moyer, a junior biology and forensic investigation double major, from Galena, Illinois, attended both conferences. She said the conferences provided a diverse amount of information and case studies, including presentations on ballistics, fingerprinting and exhumations.
“To hear from both lab and crime scene professionals was very interesting,” said Moyer. “I was also able to identify what made a presentation stand out. Being able to see how professionals in my future career field present to their colleagues allows me to prepare for my own presentations.”
Nearly a dozen students were selected through an application process to attend either one or both conferences. According to Juedes, many of the students selected have an interest in becoming a forensic pathologist, autopsy technician or death investigator.
“They now have a better understanding of what they may be getting into. Some of the students will be doing internships this summer in that field. It gives them a heads-up on what they can expect,” said Juedes. “My hope for the students who don’t know what they want to do, is that they came across it at these conferences.”
Moyer emphasized the importance for UW-Platteville students to attend professional events.
“It can be very difficult for students to gain access to professional conferences and to get the opportunity was very special,” explained Moyer. “Attending these events allows students to witness firsthand what is expected of us as we enter the field. We got to learn about cases from the individuals who handled them. These conferences allowed us to see what we are being taught in college will be applied to real scenarios. It is important that students know the content in our classes is vital and will be useful in our careers after graduation.”
The students selected to attend the AAFS conference included Abby Moyer; Ashlee Mullins; Grace Semaan; Jenna Fendt; Maddy Young; Rachel Brokish; Riese Federman and Stephanie Leinbach.
The students selected to attend the Mayo Clinic symposium included Abby Moyer; Ashlee Mullins; Halleigh Kelchen; Isabelle Varga; Jordyne Fletcher; Lydia Helle; Maddy Young; Madi Gorski; Olivia Bayer; Savannah Palmer; Stephanie Leinbach and Veronica Tenhagen.