Seven undergraduate students are participating in the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE) summer research experience for undergraduate students (REU) program.
This year, CSAFE’s REU returns to an in-person program with placements at Iowa State University, West Virginia University and the University of Pennsylvania. Students will participate in person at their respective host institutions and join large group meetings and experiences in a virtual space.
During the 10-week immersive internship program, the students will discover how statistical and computational concepts apply to CSAFE’s key research areas in pattern or digital evidence. They will work on interdisciplinary teams with faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers.
The program is coordinated by Anthony Greiter, the learning and development specialist at CSAFE. Guiding the interns this summer will be Caroly Coronado-Vargas, a third-year student in statistics at Iowa State University.
“We have an amazing group of students in the REU program this year. They’re each uniquely positioned to learn from the vast network of forensics and statistics professionals CSAFE has to offer. I have no doubt these students will be changing the world one day soon,” said Greiter.
This year’s REU interns are:
Emily Allen is in her second year studying statistics at Iowa State University and will focus on handwriting analysis during the REU program. She said she joined the program because she finds the work that CSAFE conducts with forensic evidence, including but not limited to handwriting, shoe imprint, and bloodstain analysis, very intriguing. “Not only is it interesting, but the contributions that CSAFE has made and continues to make to statistical forensic analysis are groundbreaking. Learning from and working with professionals at CSAFE with forensic analysis is a highly fascinating and unique experience for me,” she said.
Eden Amin is a junior at the University of Central Oklahoma studying forensic science and criminal justice. During his internship, he will work on firearms and toolmarks analysis projects. Amin said he wanted to be part of the CSAFE summer REU program due to its involvement with independent verification and validation. “I hope to accomplish growth both in the field of forensic science and interpersonally. I hope to improve my leadership skills and develop a sense of agency, as this is one of the first few real-world experiences within my field of study,” Amin said.
Nina Barretts is a forensic science major with a concentration in biology at the University of New Haven. She will be working on firearms and toolmarks analysis projects during the REU program. Barretts said she wanted to be part of the REU summer program because she wished to improve her independent and technical skills in the laboratory performing research and is also interested in working with statisticians, scientists, forensic practitioners and other professionals that she does not get to interact with regularly. “Overall, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of forensic science and statistics. On the statistics side, I would like to improve my familiarity and skills with operating software like R and learn how to read and write multi-criteria queries and join datasets in query,” she said.
Ke’asia Canady is a junior studying criminal justice at Albany State University and will be working on firearms and toolmarks analysis projects during the REU program. Canady was interested in the CSAFE REU program because it is based on forensic evidence. “I wanted to be a part of the CSAFE program because I wanted to get more insight on how evidence is handled since I want to be an evidence technician,” she said. She also hopes to gain more confidence in her judgment and attention to detail, to accomplish safely handling evidence, being under stressful environments and having a more logical, creative mindset.
David Chu is a junior in statistics and computer science at Carleton College. During his internship experience, he will work on footwear evidence research projects. Chu decided to participate in CSAFE’s REU program because its philosophy of applying statistics to improve forensic evidence analysis and the judicial system aligns with his career directions. “I want to be a part of CSAFE’s amazing group of people who have created meaningful impacts on society,” he said. He also hopes to learn new knowledge and skills and improve other non-technical skills like publication and presentation skills.
Katarina Maier is a senior studying forensic science with a bioethics minor at Loyola University Chicago. She will work on footwear evidence projects during her internship. Maier said she wanted to participate in the CSAFE REU because she has a good math background and a love for pattern evidence. “The draw of a dedicated program reconciling the two, with so many opportunities within and experienced mentors, absolutely drew me. I think that forensics in a contemporary capacity is a new enough field that it can be hard to determine what you specifically want, but I feel like CSAFE was the perfect place for me to apply to,” she said.
Emma Thatcher is a senior at West Virginia University majoring in forensics and investigative science with an emphasis in forensic examination. During the REU, she will be working on firearms and toolmarks analysis projects. Thatcher said that she wanted to be part of the CSAFE REU program because of the rare opportunities she would have, including working on her own research project. “My current hopes are to learn a lot, especially from those who are more qualified than me and can share their wisdom. I’m also looking forward to gaining experience in presenting professional and scientific research to my peers and fellow forensic scientists,” she said.
For more information about CSAFE’s learning opportunities for students, visit forensicstats.org/learning-opportunities/students.