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Hyatt gets taste of forensic science

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2009-01-28

The field of forensic science is a popular one. Several CSI shows continue to enjoy high ratings, and other police dramas like Law and Order flourish as well. Not to mention the many shows on cable outlets like The Learning Channel and The Discovery Channel.

Lacie Hyatt, a Wofford student from Cowpens, S.C., has been doing a forensic science internship and has been writing a blog about her experience: Lacie's blog.

Hyatt says her interest in the field had nothing to do with anything she saw on television.

“I guess my interest started in high school,” she says. “It was before I ever even watched a CSI show. I did a job search and it came up in my top 20. The more I looked into it, the more interesting it seemed.

“So while in high school I took a forensic science class, and Lt. Ashley Harris of the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office came and spoke to us. I found out that he also went to Broome High School and Wofford. I thought his were really good footsteps to walk in. I went from crime scene investigator into forensic science and into forensic chemistry. That’s my major. That’s how it all got started.”

So what about it appealed to Hyatt?

“Originally it appealed to me because it’s not a routine, sit-at-your-desk-all-day type of job,” she says. “It was something different and interesting. It requires a lot of time in the lab, but I love chemistry and…take for example arson cases…If I was to work on fire debris types of cases, it could be something different every time. Lt. Harris does so many different types of things. He doesn’t just analyze drug cases or arson cases. He speaks to classes. He’s on the bomb squad. The field just has so many possibilities.”

During her internship, Hyatt has been allowed to follow Harris around, and to play with some of the high-tech equipment (such as an infrared spectrometer) in the lab. Hence, she has at least a small taste of what it’s like, and how close (or not close) it is to what we see on TV.

“People see CSI and they think that people who analyze drug cases are the same people who go and take DNA samples,” she says. “But the people who actually investigate the crime scene don’t usually analyze it. I’ve come to realize that a lot of things on CSI are for show. For instance, taking a finger print off an ice cube, or walking into a room and taking an air sample and being able to tell if someone wore Chanel No. 5. That’s just not realistic.”