Q & A with Kendall Gehring
Forensic science requires you to think about all kinds of puzzles in very new ways, and it is a blend of so many different disciplines … It really is cool science, and while it isn't like you see on TV, it does feel a little bit like magic sometimes.
Why did you decide to study forensic science?
I have always loved puzzle-solving and helping people, and I think forensic science is a great mix of those two things. When I was in 8th grade, I went to the Jamestown settlement on a class trip, and I met a forensic archaeologist there. They were excavating a pit where human remains had been found, a young woman named Jane (look up the story if you get the chance!). He was my introduction to the field, and I looked up everything I possibly could about it when I returned home. I was completely hooked, and suddenly, it was like I knew what I had to do. I attended a week-long forensic science summer camp in Rhode Island halfway through high school, which just solidified my decision to study forensic science.
What was your favorite class that you took in your major? And why?
My favorite class so far has been Scientific Crime Scene Investigation. As the final project in that class, I got to be part of a team and we processed and reconstructed a mock crime scene. It was a very unique, hands-on way to experience that aspect of forensic science. There are not many undergraduate programs in the country that offer that same level of experience, and it was so much fun!
Who was your favorite professor in your major? And why?
My favorite professor is Dr. Tal Simmons. She was my professor for both Survey of Forensic Science and Scientific Crime Scene Investigation, and I hope to take her grad class in the spring. Her specialty is forensic anthropology, and it is my goal to be a forensic anthropologist. Not only did I really enjoy learning from her in my first two forensics classes, but she has been incredibly helpful in my grad school search as well. She's the best.
Can you tell us about the Forensic Science Student Club?
I am currently the president of the Forensic Science Student Club on campus and it is such a great experience. We host guest speakers from many different disciplines, including scientists, attorneys, law enforcement officers and others. We also host club field trips to the nearby Virginia Department of Forensic Science and Office of the Chief Medical Examiner when possible, and we've even gone as a group to a shooting range a few times. We also host a Halloween Bash and a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater every spring. It's a great place to meet people in the major, network with current professional and future colleagues, and share your love of forensic science.
Why should students consider forensic science as a major?
I think you should consider forensic science if you like thinking about things upside down. Forensic science requires you to think about all kinds of puzzles in very new ways, and it is a blend of so many different disciplines. You will never have a "typical" day because no two days are exactly alike, and I love not knowing exactly what to expect. It really is cool science, and while it isn't like you see on TV, it does feel a little bit like magic sometimes. I have learned so much in this department and the opportunities I've gained are unlike anything I'd get anywhere else. If you notice the little details, are always curious and have maybe a slightly unhealthy obsession with mysteries, come join us.