Five Key Takeaways from RWU’s Forensic Science Week

RWU celebrated National Forensic Science Week by hosting opportunities for Forensic Science students to meet and learn from industry professionals and alumni.

By Grace Boland
Sarah Lewis, senior forensic scientist at the RIDOH is standing and presenting to the forensic science club about the career track options of forensic scientists. The slide behind her reads "So you want to work in forensics?" and features a photo of Abby from the TV show NCIS.
Sarah Lewis, senior forensic scientist at the Rhode Island Department of Health, spoke to the Forensic Science Club about her career and opportunities for Forensic Science students.

BRISTOL R.I. – From crime lab analysts to forensic scientists and examiners, there are many career opportunities for Forensic Science majors to investigate. According to Sarah Lewis, if you have a Forensic Science degree, there are plenty of paths you can take. 

“Keep your options open and explore them all,” Lewis, a senior forensic scientist for the Rhode Island Department of Health, shared with members of Roger Williams University’s Forensic Science Club on Sept. 20.

Lewis’ talk was part of RWU’s first celebration of National Forensic Science Week, held Sept. 17 to 22 and spearheaded by senior Samantha Riley, president of the Forensic Science Club. This year marks the 11th anniversary of National Forensic Science Week, which acknowledges the importance of forensic science in modern criminal justice and the dedication of forensic professionals. In addition to Lewis, events for the week included an alumni panel featuring three recent graduates who all took unique paths with their B.S. in Forensic Science from RWU.

"I wanted a week dedicated to all things forensics, whether that be exposing our first-year students to all their different options or helping seniors make the connection that lands them a job. In future years, I would love to see National Forensic Science Week flourish and get even more people excited about forensic science," said Riley, a Forensic Science major on the Biology track.

During her talk, Lewis gave students an inside investigation into her career path as someone with a degree in Forensic Science and shared her real-world experiences working in the lab, including photos of evidence that she has tested. The alumni panel, held on Sept. 21, included Amela MacDonald ’23, a histotechnologist at MaineGeneral Medical Center; Emma Morin ’23, an M.S. candidate in Biomedical Forensic Sciences at Boston University; and Sarah Bentz ’22, a criminalist 1 at the New York City Police Department.

“The alumni panel showed just how flexible the Forensic Science degree is. These are three alumni who all have very different careers but have the same academic foundations,” said Karla-Sue Marriott, Professor and Director of the Forensic Science program at RWU.

Here are five essential findings from forensic science professionals on how to advance in the industry:

  • It’s never too early to start planning for your future. If graduate school is on your radar, “start looking at master's programs and research programs early on, and make sure you know the application deadlines,” said Morin.
  • Do your homework when looking for internships or research opportunities, said Lewis. “Reach out to industry professionals who are doing research you're interested in. If they don’t have an opening, they know someone who does.”
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in your network. “Take advantage of your connections with alumni and professors; they are a great resource,” said Bentz.
  • Internships are a great way to secure your future job. “Networking is really important,” Lewis said. “Start looking for internships the summer before your senior year, as most of them require three years of college-level lab experience.”
  • RWU sets you up for success. “My current supervisor told me that one of the draws to my resume was my Forensic Science background,” MacDonald shared. “There are only a few institutions that offer an immersive program like RWU.”