Natalie Harrison, Bsc (Hons) Forensic Science, 2015

What are you doing now; tell us about your role and your journey since graduation?

Within a week of finishing my last exam I received an invitation for an interview for a Toxicology Analyst position at Orchid Cellmark. The job was offered to me the same day which was great. As a Toxicology Analyst I get involved in handling blood samples which have been submitted by the police for alcohol and/or drug analysis. I also analyse hair samples submitted by family courts for drug screenings.

What were the main reasons you took that course?

I chose to study forensic science because I had always enjoyed science at school, especially Biology and Chemistry, but I also had a passion for studying Law and the legal system. Forensic science incorporates all three of these areas and also lets you narrow down your interests into a more specific field like toxicology.

Why did you choose to study the course at the University of Derby?

When I applied to study at the University of Derby its reputation was one of the key things that I looked for. It had just made it into the top 50 universities in the Times ranking for higher education.

Another reason why I chose Derby was the facilities available to the students. The crime scene house provided a “real life” aspect to studying crime scene investigations and the instruments available in the laboratory gives students’ experience which is useful when entering a laboratory based career.

What impact has studying this course at Derby had on your career?

The modules on my course allow for students to learn a wide variety of topics within forensic science. Modules range from crime scene investigation to analysis of biological fluids, to toxicology and drugs analysis.

This experience, of so many different techniques and applications of theoretical knowledge, impressed my employers at Orchid Cellmark and helped me stand out from other candidates.

How did the lecturers inspire you?

All of the lecturers within the department have such a passion for what they teach and it come across to us students during the lectures. This inspired me to do more research and read around the subject to help with exams but mostly because I was interested in what I am learning about.

I am still in touch with Dr Samantha Drake and Dr Ian Turner who were very supportive and encouraging over the years.

How do you feel the University has helped you in your career so far?

During my final year we had a lot of help and guidance from the Careers department in preparation for applying to jobs and going for interviews. The team and the Forensic department held mock interviews for all third years to help us prepare for real interviews, including how to answer any challenging questions.

I made some lifelong friends with most of my course mates. We’re still in touch as we were a very friendly group and all got along with each other.

What are your future plans?

My plan is to work for a year or two and get as much experience in a laboratory as possible. Then I hope to come back to Derby to do a masters of research in forensic science to continue with the research I did for my dissertation.

What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study this course at the University of Derby?

Do it! I had such a fantastic time at Derby and the facilities are very good with the new crime scene house and the laboratory equipment. The lecturers have such a passion for what they are teaching which encourages students to learn. I had the best three years at derby and I have made some lifelong friends.