Caitlin Dunne, who will shortly graduate, has already secured a job at one of only three forensic analysis sites in the UK.
The former Forensic and Applied Biology student is working as a DNA Interpretation Scientist at Cellmark Forensic Services in Oxford, a complete career change from her previous role as an autism support worker.
“I feel excited and relieved to be able to finally pursue my dream career, though filled with nervous energy with changing careers and cities within the same month as finishing university,” she said. “I feel incredibly proud of my journey, but also very humbled to have achieved this opportunity considering the competitiveness of the field.”
Day-to-day, Caitlin’s job involves interpreting and reporting DNA samples, including carrying out statistical analysis. These samples may come from private paternity cases, reference samples for vulnerable or missing persons, or can even be samples from those who are deceased for genetic genealogy work. Caitlin is also shortly to start a Master’s degree in Forensic Anthropology and Genocide Investigation at Staffordshire University. She has also started training as a volunteer Missing Persons Investigator with Locate International, a charity which helps find people in unsolved missing persons cases.
Alongside her studies, Caitlin managed to juggle a full-time job and two volunteer jobs. She was an Independent Custody Volunteer for West Mercia Police, a Fingerprint Bureau Volunteer at West Midlands Police.
Caitlin’s dissertation was done with the Victim Recovery Dog team at West Mercia Police, researching the effects of blood dilution and the time since it was deposited, focused on the recovery of missing people. She was able to establish the rate at which victim recovery dogs were still able to detect blood, a significant improvement on current forensic blood detection methods, which she said provides significant support for their use in missing persons cases.
Although she found the first year of her course tough due to Covid-19 restrictions, Caitlin made some really great connections in her second year. “That gave me the support and motivation I really needed,” she said. “The advice and support from lecturers has been invaluable. I will very much miss the dark sense of humour from the lecturer and technician team that got us through stressful exam periods!”
Caitlin’s long-term goal is to become a Reporting Scientist at Cellmark Forensics. “Ideally, I would love to report in DNA and Bloodstain Pattern Analysis but would be more than happy simply to still be working in forensics for the foreseeable future,” she added. “I have a keen interest in missing persons and disaster victim identification that I would also like to eventually incorporate - whether professionally or as a volunteer.”
The University’s annual autumn Graduation Ceremonies will take place as planned from September 12-14 in the beautiful and historic Worcester Cathedral followed by celebration receptions at the City Campus. No Worcester graduates have been affected by the marking and assessment boycott.
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