Lauren Keaton – Alumna Spotlight
Hometown: Roswell, GA
BS in Forensic Chemistry (2020)
When and why did you decide to study forensic chemistry?
I always knew I wanted to get into forensics. I grew up in a military family and I’ve always had a call to serve people. I’ve also always had a passion for science. So when I found this career path, it perfectly combined my love for science with my call to serve. I decided on UM when I came for a tour my junior year of high school. In one of the presentations they mentioned the Forensic Chemistry major, and after that day I was hooked on UM and Forensic Chemistry.
What were some significant accomplishments or favorite memories while at UM?
I had the most amazing experience at UM. I was a member of DDE ( Delta Delta Epsilon), the forensic chemistry honor society. I was also a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority and I served as Executive Vice President my junior year. It was exciting and sometimes stressful juggling serving the woman of my chapter as well as the heavy workload of being a forensic chemistry major. I was able intern with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences where I worked primarily on toxicology testing. Some other favorite memories of my time at UM include football games and tailgating.
Please describe your career pathway since graduation from UM.
Since graduation, the road to my career wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. It took almost two year of applying to jobs to finally land my dream one. The job search process is very long and a lot of hard work, however it is very rewarding when all the hard work ends in a dream job. Once I got the job, there was a lot of on the job training. I was in training for 6-months before being released to work scenes on my own.
I am currently a Crime Scene Technician at the High Point Police Department in High Point, North Carolina. Everyday I do something different. I respond out to many different types of crime scenes; anything from a vandalism, to a breaking and entering, to a homicide. On scene, I take photographs, collect evidence, dust for fingerprints and search for any trace evidence. We also bring the evidence back to the lab to do in-lab processing such as cyanoacrylate fuming, dye staining, using Alternate Light Sources, and touch DNA collection.
What is the value of studying forensic chemistry in today’s world?
I think the value of studying forensic chemistry in today’s world is its wide range of applications. With this degree, there are many career options. You could go into medicine, dentistry, toxicology, DNA testing, drug chemistry, or crime scene investigation like myself. The curriculum has a good combination of chemistry and biology with crime scene investigation classes as well.