Jennifer Floyd – Alumna Spotlight
BS in Forensic Chemistry (2001)
When and why did you decide to major in forensic chemistry?
I was in junior high in the early 1990s and I wanted to be like Agent Scully on the tv show X-Files. I knew then I wanted to major in forensics. During my junior year of high school, a forensic chemist from the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory spoke to us and then allowed me to shadow him for a day at the lab. He showed me I could combine my love of chemistry and my love of forensics. I looked into the program at Ole Miss and knew it was the right one for me.
What were some significant accomplishments or favorite memories from your time at UM?
One of my absolute favorite memories from my time was the chemistry section providing coffee, hot chocolate, and donuts one morning during finals week. I was not a coffee drinker, but I would mix a packet (or two) of hot chocolate in a cup of coffee and have a little boost to get me through a hard day. But the best part of everyday was walking through the Grove or the Circle between classes, chatting with friends, smelling the fresh air, and just enjoying our beautiful campus.
Please describe your educational/career path since graduation.
I began my career at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory in June of 2003 as a forensic chemist with the illicit labs section. In 2005, Arkansas passed laws regulating the sale of pseudoephedrine and the number of meth labs decreased. My supervisors asked if I would cross-train to test fire guns submitted for entry into the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) database, so I started that in January of 2007. One year later, I permanently transferred to the firearm and toolmark section to train as an examiner. The firearm and toolmark examiner training took about 18 months. Around that time, I also trained to be an internal auditor for accreditation self-assessments. A few years later, I was able to train as an assessor to audit outside agencies with the accrediting body. Within the firearm and toolmark section, I have served as the NIBIN coordinator since mid-2007. I have also served at times as the section safety officer and the section training officer. When the American Academy of Forensic Sciences founded the Academy Standards Board, I applied and became a member of the Firearm and Toolmark Consensus Body (CB) in 2016. I started on the CB as the vice chair, moved up to co-chair the CB, and then became the chair of the CB in 2021. To date, I have also chaired almost all of the Working Groups for the documents we have published and have been working on.
As a firearm and toolmark examiner, I am responsible for checking for safety and test firing submitted firearms, microscopic comparison examinations of bullets, cartridge cases, and other types of toolmarks, serial number restoration, distance determination testing, and NIBIN entry. I am also responsible for writing reports and testifying in court to my expert opinion. As the NIBIN coordinator, I communicate with our partner law enforcement agencies and schedule their use of the NIBIN equipment located at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, as well as review their entries. As the chair for the Firearm and Toolmark CB, I lead the bi-monthly meetings and steer the Working Groups as we move documents forward first for public comment and then for publishing.
What is the value of studying forensic chemistry in today’s world?
I believe working in forensics is a vital service to our fellow citizens. What I do can change someone’s life. I have worked cases where the evidence showed the suspect was defending himself. I have worked cases where the evidence disproves the version of events provided by the suspect. My work can help provide answers to a victim’s family. Studying forensic chemistry gives you the solid foundation on which to build your career and make a difference in this world.