Category: Capstone Reflections

UCO Office of Student Conduct/Title IX Practicum Reflection

I completed my Forensic Science practicum at the Offices of Student Conduct and Title IX at UCO. Title IX has an extensive history and immense importance for all educational institutions today and still has room and the need to grow. At UCO, Title IX’s policies are upheld by an office of staff who perform interviews and investigations, provide resources, and assign sanctions. As their Intern, I performed a variety of duties including note-taking, interviewing, and completing an individual semester project. This assignment provided me with life-skills such as professionalism and impartiality as well as giving me a better picture of what I would like to do with my Forensic Science degree in the future. I was gratified to realize during this practicum placing that I was actively using the information that I learned in classes like Criminal Procedures, Behavioral Aspects of Crime Scenes, and Forensic Psychology. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity and truly believe that I have gained skills that I will take into my career.

Shoals Field Wildlife Forensic Science Study Tour

This amazing whale photograph was taken by UCO undergraduate student Jackson Dunn, while viewing marine wildlife with UCO classmates and faculty from the deck of the University of New Hampshire Research Vessel (R/V) Gulf Challenger, during our recent Gulf of Maine travel course. Fin whales can attain a length of 80 feet and weigh in excess of 70 tons.  UCO students and faculty explored oceanic wildlife in the Gulf of Maine during their participation in Field Wildlife Forensic Science 2022. The marine forensic science and wildlife conservation travel course is a semiannual, collaborative effort of the W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute, the UCO Department of Biology, the CMS Center for Wildlife Forensic Science and Conservation Studies, and the Shoals Marine Laboratory. UCO participants joined students and faculty from other academic institutions and government agencies and engaged in transformative marine biology field station and oceanic research vessel experiences. UCO faculty included Drs. Wayne Lord, Rhonda Williams, and Victoria Jackson.

Oklahoma City Police Department Crime Scene Practicum

 

I am extremely thankful for the opportunity I was given to intern with OKCPD. I now know without a doubt that this is the job I was meant to do and it is something that I will be able to handle. It was a fear of mine that I wouldn’t be able to handle the death and sadness than can come with the job but because of the internship I know that I will be able to do it with the right mind set. I have gained experience throughout the course of this semester that will give me a much better standing when it comes time to apply for jobs. 

 The University of Central Oklahoma has changed the course of my life and I will forever be prideful to have attended this school. The Forensic Science program is one of the most prestigious in the country and I feel I have gotten to learn from some of the best in the game. I have built relationships with the people at OKPD and gained experience that I never imagined I would be able to while attending school. I have learned a great deal about ethics and techniques used while processing crime scenes and the grit that it takes to be successful in this line of work.”

Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Practicum

During my Practicum with Oklahoma State’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, or OCME, I gained irreplaceable experience. The culture, attitudes, and passion for forensic pathology and investigation that is present within every individual at OCME truly embody the nature of compassion that should be presented with servicing decedents and their loved ones. Within OCME, there are numerous professions that merge to achieve the goal of establishing cause and manner of death while providing information and resources to the bereaved. As a student who is interested in investigative work, forensic pathology, and the study of grief, my time with OCME was emotionally fulfilling while allowing me to gain professional experience in each of these fields. The team of Medicolegal death investigators with whom I shadowed presented a complex understanding of a variety of subjects within law enforcement, forensics, and social work. As such, I had the ability to bring in knowledge that I have gained from my degree programs and apply such knowledge to their everyday duties. As a Practicum student, I was able to attend death scenes, assist and observe in the morgue during post-mortem examinations, listen to death calls while writing information on call sheets, and more. Although there is standard protocol in each of their responsibilities as death investigators, they exhibit an ability to adapt to the uniqueness present within every case.”

Practicum with the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System

“Overall, I think working with Oklahoma Indigent Defense System was a great opportunity as I got to apply myself, practice what I learned, and get a better in depth look into the defense system. I would definitely recommend this practicum to other students who are looking to learn more on the legal system.”

CARE Center Reflection

Practicum at the CARE Center

 

“I completed my practicum at the CARE Center this semester which is Oklahoma County’s Child Advocacy Center. At the center we offer forensic interviews, family advocacy meetings, mental health coordination, and education programs for both children and adults regarding body safety and reporting abuse. The forensic interviews were all different pertaining to the individual, the interviewer, the case, and any relevant issues pertaining to the case. While observing forensic interviews over the course of several months and completing online training programs, I began to understand the techniques and nuances that each interview requires. I was able to apply my education into the field and get a hands-on experience that helped guide me into the field of law enforcement.”

OSBI Drug Chemistry Unit Practicum 

 

“The Practicum in Forensic Science requirement of my degree plan was fulfilled through interning in the Drug Chemistry Unit of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. During my time in the unit, I gained extensive experience in reading protocols, performing instrument maintenance, and observing the processing of case samples. I was able to apply the knowledge I learned throughout my undergraduate career and see the concepts put into action. Additionally, several of the analysts in the unit gave me career advice and told me stories of interesting cases they had seen to emphasize the importance of constant learning and observing. This experience was very much worthwhile and provided me with hands-on experience which will benefit me in both my academic and professional career.”

 

Analytical Research Laboratory Internship 

 

“I was an intern for the research and development department at ARL Bio Pharma. ARL Bio Pharma performs analytical and microbiological testing for the pharmaceutical industry and is in downtown Oklahoma City, OK. During my time as an intern, I was able to utilize my knowledge and experience that I have obtained at the University of Central Oklahoma. I was also able to get a chance to work with laboratory analysts and laboratory technicians in a professional setting. I spent the majority of my time shadowing the laboratory technicians of the R&D department. I was trained on the tasks that are required of the laboratory technicians and I had an opportunity to learn what it takes to be a successful laboratory technician in the R&D department of ARL Bio Pharma. The experience was very rewarding. It was an awesome opportunity to be able to work in a laboratory and utilize my degree that I have been working hard to obtain. In addition to this I was able to be a part of a great and friendly work environment and I was able to meet kind and intelligent laboratory analysts and laboratory technicians. By the end of my internship, I was encouraged to apply for a position within the company.”

 

Practicum with Edmond Police Department

This practicum with the Edmond Police Department proved to be beneficial and worthwhile to my forensic science studies. Each department was explored, and many different responsibilities
were given throughout the 120 hours. I learned how a police department functions and all of the
communication and teamwork it requires. In addition, I was able to observe and practice the
disciplines I studied at the University of Central Oklahoma, such as fingerprinting, crime scene
photography, AFIX, criminal procedure, and crime scene protocol. Records gave me the
responsibility of fingerprinting people and entering IO-print cards into AFIX. The Technical
Investigators allowed me to participate in their search warrants. I observed traffic stops,
arrests, and patrol shifts with the police officers. Property permitted me the responsibility of
inventorying evidence items. Lastly, the Municipal Court, Animal Control, Dispatch, and the Dive
team showed me their daily responsibilities. This internship exceeded my expectations in a
multitude of ways and provided me a great deal of insight into the daily life of the Edmond Police
Department.

Internship at DNA Solutions

Internship at the DNA Solutions as a forensic science practicum was highly valuable experience for
me. It helped me grow as a person as well as a scientist by shadowing full-time lab workers and
being art of the kit validation study and sample preparation for forensic science mock casework
evidence samples and doing DNA work beside another DNA analyst for the reproducibility as part of
the study. It also exposed me to new things such as statistical calculations used in the DNA
analysis work in the real world and how it is used and also the use of automated DNA purification
via Maxwell 16 instrument. In addition, it had made me realize that the DNA work in the real world
is possible to have more than one method to extract, purify and analyze depending on the kits used
and the type of DNA analysis the client had asked for amongst other things that I have observed and experienced at DNA Solutions internship.

Practicum Experience in the OSBI Forensic Chemistry Unit

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) was created to help law enforcement
throughout the state investigate crimes. One of the ways the OSBI does this is providing
laboratory services to all law enforcement agencies in the state. The OSBI lab has six divisions:
Forensic Toxicology, Forensic Chemistry, Trace Evidence, Firearms and Toolmarks, Forensic
Biology, Latent Prints, and Digital Evidence. This summer I worked in the Forensic Chemistry
Unit under Penny Cooper. This experience allowed me to see what it was like to work in the
Forensic Chemistry Unit as well as determine if I would be interested in other units. It was very
interesting to experience the things that I had learned about in class, which allowed me a better
understand of quality assurance and quality control measures, and the use of presumptive testing
and how it can guide the analysis. Overall it was a very eye-opening experience that made me
consider all my options after graduation and start to figure out what I would like to do for the rest
of my career.

OSBI Latent Evidence Unit Practicum

For the final semester of the Forensic Science degree program, students are required to complete
an internship class or an off-site practicum. I was fortunate to get chosen for a spot at the
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s Forensic Science Center laboratory in Edmond,
Oklahoma. Almost every day, I was able to observe and learn from various experts in forensic
science. I learned about all the criminalistic units at the laboratory and the foundations of their
field, especially so for the Latent Evidence Unit, the unit I was selected to join. Through
observing casework and practicing various latent fingerprint processing techniques during
experimental studies, I was able to expand my knowledge of the field of forensic science and the
discipline of latent and patent friction ridge skin analysis. The practice was hands-on through the
experience of validation studies comparing new products such as Lumicyano and Hungarian
Red, both of which are advertised are better and more efficient processing techniques. This
experience has widened my scope and understanding of forensic science and the way it is applied
beyond the classroom.