Today’s blog is written and condensed by guest blogger Tara Luther. Reposted from The ISHI Report with permission.
In a previous article, we outlined some of the challenges that leaders in the field of forensic science face, so we know it takes a special person to not only choose this role, but to excel in it.
For those considering a similar path, we’ve interviewed four leaders from around the world to learn more about what it’s like to lead the lab, from what surprised them most as they stepped into the role to advice for others considering doing the same. We’ve also included two workshops at this year’s ISHI conference that you should consider attending.
For this article we interviewed:
Dr. rer. medic. Iris Schulz, Head of Laboratory of Forensic Genetics at the Institute of Legal Medicine in Basel, Switzerland
Lynn Schneeweis, Deputy Chief Science Officer/Assistant Lab Director at the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory, USA
Dr. Maria Corazon A. De Ungria, REPS University Researcher V and Career Scientist IV Head, DNA Analysis Laboratory, Natural Sciences Research Institute University of the Philippines Diliman | Director, Program on Biodiversity, Ethnicity, and Forensics Philippine Genome Center
Dr Christopher SYN Kiu-Choong, Ag Group Director, Applied Sciences Group Senior Consultant & Director, Biology Division, Health Sciences Authority
Please tell the reader a little bit about yourself.
Dr. Iris Schulz: Since 2018, I have been the lab lead of the department of forensic genetic Basel in Switzerland. I take care of the police, and governmental and private customer needs, such as analyzing biological traces or clarifying relationships. Other responsibilities lie within my research group, which I initiated five years ago, and is now cooperating in national and international projects. Lastly, I have academic duties at the University of Basel as a lecturer for forensic genetics. As a private person, I am happily married, with a 10-year-old, starting to get (too early) independent. As I’m living at the border of Switzerland, shopping in Germany, working in Switzerland and living in France is my special and nice way of living. Depending on whom you ask, you might get the answer that I can be pretty weird, doing a Three Peaks Challenge or a Muddy Angel Run just for a good purpose or starting to paint with acryl. Why? Just because.
Lynn Schneeweis: I am currently serving as the Deputy Chief Science Officer/Assistant Laboratory Director for the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory. I have been with the laboratory for just about 20 years and in this position, specifically, for about a year and a half. My background is primarily in Forensic Biology and prior to stepping into my current position, I spent several years as a manager in our Forensic Biology Section as well as an analyst in both the DNA Unit and Crime Scene Response Unit.
Dr. Christopher Syn: As the Acting Group Director, I lead the Applied Sciences Group (ASG) at the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), Singapore which comprises 7 departments providing national scientific and medical expertise in the areas of criminalistics, forensic biology, illicit drug analyses, clinical and forensic toxicology, pharmaceutical analyses, chemical metrology, and forensic pathology.
Professionally, I have a PhD in Molecular Bacteriology and joined HSA as a forensic biologist in 2001. Since 2013, I have headed the forensic biology department, a position I continue to hold and maintain a practice in. With the increased administrative duties in my current role, my colleagues in forensic biology are now managing routine operations while I focus on R&D and future capability development.
Dr. Maria Corazon A. De Ungria: I am currently the Head of the DNA Analysis Laboratory of the Natural Sciences Research Institute at the University of the Philippines (UP), Diliman campus and the Director of the Program on Biodiversity, Ethnicity, and Forensics at the Philippine Genome Center. My main areas of study include human genetic diversity and DNA as a tool for human identification. I have advocated for the issuance of the Rule on DNA Evidence, which prescribes how DNA should be used in Philippine courts. In 2022, I was appointed to lead the formation of the UP Diliman Research Ethics Committee. Recognizing the need for effective research communication, science-driven national policies, e.g., establishment of forensic DNA databases, protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, and proper institutional governance to ensure the ethical conduct of research in the Philippines, I identify myself as a changemaker who chose ‘DNA’ as my catalyst for change.”
What surprised you most as you stepped into a leadership role? How has your leadership style changed over the years?
Dr. Iris Schulz: Leading is much more complicated, with much more work, multifaceted tasks and often surprising challenges than I thought. But, at the same time, it is thankfully more rewarding. Since my first leading role roughly ten years ago, mainly my resilience has strengthened, and my working attitude has changed in terms of “I only do what only I can do”. Next, my way of productivity cannot be measured easily anymore, which can be frustrating occasionally. Consequently, my team suddenly finds me doing lab or reporting work (and trying to get me out of there before I can do any real harm). Over the years, finally, my leadership style has become less managing and more collaborative and people-oriented. As a result, I have my team who is taking care of the variety of our tasks as well as I can. That’s perfect and fun.
Lynn Schneeweis: I was honestly surprised at just how completely different of a skill set is needed to be at all successful in a leadership role. As forensic scientists we work incredibly hard for many years to develop and refine our technical knowledge and skills. While those skills were certainly important for me as I moved from the bench into a leadership role, I had no idea how important having “soft skills” would be and how much more challenging developing those would be for me than learning how to run a genetic analyzer or interpret a complex mixture. As far as how my leadership style has changed, I am constantly learning from the people I work with every day and perhaps the most important lesson they’ve taught me is that there is no one size fits all solution to leadership. Different situations and individuals require a different approach and as such, I try to adapt accordingly…sometimes successfully and sometimes not so!
Dr. Christopher Syn: I would not exactly call it a surprise or a shock, but it was certainly a little dismaying how much time gets drawn into meetings. My Outlook calendar is always filled, and I had to work on creating a schedule where I could do my work while also providing management oversight to the various departments. I had to give up some of my professional casework and personal involvement in R&D projects – things which I liked.
When I took over the forensic biology department in 2013, I took a relatively sheltering approach where the scientists focused primarily on casework. Matters outside of casework such as stakeholder engagement, capability development, budget and resource planning, were handled by myself and my predecessor (who is still here as a highly valued senior consultant). The scientists certainly grew into very competent casework experts but, having been cultivated in a greenhouse, were less au fait with macro issues that cut across departments and institutions, ‘whole-of-government’ policies and plans etc. I have since adopted a different approach where scientists are more involved in administrative matters to better prepare them for higher roles and responsibilities.
Dr. Maria Corazon A. De Ungria: In 1999, I was appointed to head the laboratory shortly after submitting my dissertation in Sydney, Australia. Having been away from home and country for 11 years, I was surprised by the people’s warmth, hospitality, and immediate acceptance. I had made so many blunders in the process of reacquainting myself with the Filipino culture and way of life that I ended up with a good collection of hilarious stories. These incidents helped me bond with the young group of researchers from very diverse backgrounds who were given the huge task of developing a forensic DNA laboratory at a time when forensic genetics was just starting. The strength formed from our ability to work together amidst our diversity laid a strong foundation for the laboratory.
These unique first years provided the framework of my kind of leadership: working with and for the people. I learned to accept the members of our team for who they are and what they could do. For me, a leader’s primary role is to recognize each one’s strengths and weaknesses and find ways to inspire and motivate them to their best. To be able to do this, I realized the value of sharing your passion for people, service, and country with your colleagues.
What’s the most rewarding thing about being in a leadership role?
Dr. Iris Schulz: To see my team develop, grow and succeed either personally, in research or in business tasks is the most rewarding part of my leading role. And yes, I like to have (some) control over the way things run and to be able to optimize them, to influence the task direction, to be challenged (but only so and so often), to have satisfied customers, and finally to finish projects, i.e., to become visible in a publication or a final meeting. To put it short, I love ticking off tasks, I hate to procrastinate, and as a leader, I’ve realized that most of the time, I could blame only myself if things didn’t run smoothly.
Lynn Schneeweis: The extraordinary work that our lab does every day and seeing the impact of our work is, hands down, the most rewarding part of my job. I enjoy being in a position to help our lab get the tools we need to do our jobs and then watching what a talented group of scientists can do with some of the most challenging cases or pieces of evidence when they have the tools and resources to do so.
Dr. Christopher Syn: I would say that there are different aspects where I find my work as a leader rewarding.
One is the development of people, being able to witness the growth of some scientists into experts recognised by the law enforcement and Courts, and even in the regional and international forensic community.
Two is pushing my vision of R&D and building forensic biology capabilities that are near the forefront. For example, in 2014, we established the use of the rapid DNA instrument for casework samples. We have also worked on age prediction, initially with sjTREC quantitation in 2015 and subsequently quantitative methylation in 2017, and further enhanced its accuracy with incorporation of machine learning. We also established the capability to perform full mitochondrial genome sequencing on a MPS system. And in the last few years, we have been building datasets of probabilities of activity-associated DNA transfer, which is an issue being increasingly recognized by Courts worldwide.
Dr. Maria Corazon A. De Ungria: As a scientist, I love being at the forefront of discovery. As a leader, I value the opportunity of being able to chart my own path and to take full responsibility for the outcome of my decisions, secure in the knowledge that I am backed up by an outstanding team who are continuously working to find creative solutions to any problem. The more complicated situations may demand more novel solutions, more time and stronger faith in the value of the work that we were trying to do. During the most challenging issues, I recall the words Nelson Mandela quoted from Invictus- “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” In the end, solving more complex problems make the situation more rewarding.
What unique challenges do you think you have faced and what strengths do you bring to your leadership role?
Dr. Iris Schulz: I wonder if leaders’ challenges are so unique. At least from my peers’ feedback, they are confronted with similar situations, such as terminating someone’s contract due to financial (and sometimes questionable) reasons, small and big team crises, and considerable workload rise without of course the essential heads’ increase. Further I can think of unhappy customers or staff because of unnecessary or unintended lack of information (or the one that you as a leader cannot share), or due to wrong communication frequencies and platforms. But, hey, mostly, we need to listen, talk with each other and have trust in finding a solution or compromise with enough time, understanding and patience.
Lynn Schneeweis: I don’t know if anything I’ve faced is necessarily unique, as every time I’m presented with a challenging situation and I am certain no one could possibly understand it, I talk with a colleague at another lab or listen to someone speak at a conference and I realize very quickly that there is always someone else who has faced something similar. That being said, I think for the forensic field, dealing with the pandemic over the last three years and trying to figure out how to maintain the critical services we provide presented a challenge that we did not have a blueprint to navigate, and I certainly was not prepared for! However, it forced us to reevaluate how we conduct our work and think about new ways to accomplish our jobs that maybe we would not have if not facing that situation and I think there were some positive changes that came out of that. As far as strengths I bring to my leadership role, I’d like to think I’m a work in progress. I’ve been in a leadership role in some capacity for several years at the lab and have been faced with many challenges-some I’ve navigated reasonably well and some pretty terribly if I am being honest! With time in any leadership role I’ve been in usually comes a solid dose of humility, a lot of humor, and I hope at least a little wisdom to recognize that no problem is “unfixable” and there is a path forward through every crisis.
Dr. Christopher Syn: I would not call it a unique challenge; rather I think it is also common to most if not all forensic laboratories – the never-ending casework. It is a challenge keeping up with work volumes while also setting aside sufficient resources towards R&D. Workload is ‘today’s business’ while R&D is preparing for ‘tomorrow’s business’. Casework is never ending and it is easy to be mired in it. But inadequate preparation for tomorrow means we face the possibility of technological obsolescence and consequently business irrelevance. This challenge also extends to manpower. Scientists who join forensic laboratories from academia may often do so as they want a break away from R&D, they want to deal with ‘routines’ and ‘knowns’. And there is the other group of people who enter forensic sciences based on media hype – and they then get disenchanted when they are greeted by the mountains of routine casework. So how do we create an ideal balance between the 2 activities? I don’t have a magic solution; this is still work in progress.
I have had the privilege of being involved for many years with a not-for-profit education institution which has broadened my perspectives on strategic business management. I have since tried to introduce elements of that in leading this team to develop products, processes and people, to build a future-ready business.
Dr. Maria Corazon A. De Ungria: Each country has governance issues created by people and organizations who may not share the same aspirations for selfless leadership and for promoting the common good, compounded by the increasing confusion created by social platforms that spread disinformation across time and space. The unique challenges we continue to face in the Philippines include:
the conflicting implementation of some laws by different agencies;
the absence of DNA legislation that defines the proper protocols for the collection, handling, and preservation of evidence;
the over-reliance on testimonial evidence by Philippine courts;
the lack of accountability for the unprofessional performance of official duties by some key players in the justice system;
the high cost of forensic services e.g., DNA testing, digital forensics;
the atmosphere of fear for personal safety resulting from the unresolved killing of lawyers, media personnel, human rights activists and members of civil service organizations.
Amidst the numerous challenges we encounter in our work, I encourage my team to take courage and remain objective. Forensic science should remain accurate and impartial. Moreover, I believe there is a solution to every problem, and the only way to fight mediocrity is with excellence acquired through continuous study and hard work. I try my best to help the team see the silver lining in every situation and to make the most of the challenges we encounter in the fulfillment of our tasks.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for forensic labs in the next 12-18 months?
Dr. Iris Schulz: That’s a tricky one and a more mid-term challenge. From my perspective, the current tender practice is critical for the forensic laboratories of the institutes of legal medicine (ILM), at least in Germany. Besides other tasks, their work provides the vital basis for forensic training of lab staff and reporting experts, the long-lasting but not financially compensated research, which, however, ensures the availability of state-of-the-art technologies for future forensic routine work. Also, several intricate and complex methods (e.g., methylation-based age estimation, forensic RNA analysis, and activity level reporting) that can be important in forensic investigations, and court cases are, as of today, only offered by ILM labs. For this and to maintain their competency, they need to receive a minimum of trace orders regularly and securely. However, this is no longer guaranteed because the ILM labs are not competitive with the large private ones considering the challenge associated with low tender prices. Thus, in the long run, in my opinion, forensic skills will be lost, and a shortcoming of forensic experts can be expected. Finally, research will more or less stagnate. As this significantly affects a society’s legal safety, the forensic laboratories of the institute of legal medicines should be allowed to get independent from such tender processes asap.
Lynn Schneeweis: Forensic science as a field overall has taken some tough criticism relative to the scientific validity of the work we do as well as the lack of transparency, perceived or actual, surrounding that work. It can be difficult and demoralizing to hear those criticisms every day, but it is so important that we pay attention. As the scientists working in forensic labs today, we need to recognize that there is validity in some of the criticism we’ve received, meet the challenge of addressing that which is valid head on, and focus our efforts into demonstrating that any work we are proffering is based in strong scientific principles as well as ensuring that work is available and transparent to all of our stakeholders.
Dr. Christopher Syn: I believe all forensic laboratories face a common challenge of increasing workload without commensurate increase in resourcing. This increase is likely a combination of (i) increase in number of cases, (ii) increase in number of samples per case, and (iii) increase in case complexity.
Another major challenge is that of rapid advancements in science and technology which I term as double-edged swords. They bring new capabilities to the forensic labs. Which also means there are new and more questions which can be addressed. A good example would be the increasing sensitivity of forensic DNA techniques. The increase in sensitivity allows the laboratories to detect more contributors, present at lower levels, resulting in more complex DNA mixtures. This is the same issue in illicit drug analysis where you may detect more traces of different drugs.
The same advancements can also benefit the criminals, such as the faster development of a wider variety of new synthetic psychoactive substances. Another aspect is the miniaturisation of instrumentation (facilitated by technological advancements) which leads to more deployment at crime scenes. This brings new issues relating to validation, calibration, contamination, etc.
More relevant to the area of forensic biology, I see the main challenge as understanding the activity-associated deposition, transfer and persistence of DNA. There are many published studies, but there is still a large knowledge gap in this area due to the many confounders and how different combination of these confounders influence how DNA is being left behind on an item. This issue of DNA transfer will also have implications on crime scene reconstruction. This is an area that will need collaboration between both different forensic disciplines and different laboratories.
Dr. Maria Corazon A. De Ungria: The biggest challenges for forensic labs include:
the high cost of providing forensic services in a country like the Philippines, which has very limited resources,
the need to balance this cost with the other pressing basic government expenditures, e.g., education, healthcare, social services,
the need to educate the different stakeholders who will make use of the technology, e.g., law enforcement, courts, medical professionals,
the passage of appropriate laws, e.g., the establishment of a Philippine population forensic DNA database, the automatic investigation of unexplained death including extrajudicial killings that characterized the government’s war on drugs;
crafting of programs that would increase the authentic collaboration across different agencies founded on transparency and accountability.
What recent technology/tool has opened your eyes to new understandings in the field of forensic DNA?
Dr. Iris Schulz: For some countries, the possibility to use NGS for the phenotyping analysis, including biogeographical information and the methylation approaches for age estimation, allows much more insight into an individual’s genetic background, accompanied by chances but also challenges, such as data protection and peoples’ general concerns. Here, we need to train carefully to ensure proper and attentive handling of protectable data and to inform transparently concerning the associated risks, i.e. how to treat additional (unasked) information. Next, we’ll increasingly work with the new 8-capillary system, as we’ve just bought the Spectrum CE, with the intention to increase profiling efficiency and quality. With respect to another powerful source, I expect to delve deeper into RNA analysis in the future. Here, studies of organic source identification or trace age determination will intensify within forensic research, as well as interface work to toxicological and medical areas. And, I’m sorry, but some eye-openers I have to keep for myself.
Lynn Schneeweis: I have spent a considerable amount of time with some of my colleagues at the lab over the last two years trying to wrap our collective heads around all things Forensic Genetic Genealogy, and evaluate if and/or how this might ultimately fit in our everyday world as forensic scientists. I am cautiously optimistic that the responsible use of this technology and associated tools has the potential to be a game changer for so many cases that might otherwise remain unsolved. I started my career in forensic science during the early years of CODIS and not since then have I seen the field so excited about the potential of a new tool and I am really looking forward to where the next 12-24 months lead.
Dr. Christopher Syn: In recent times, I have been quite fascinated by single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with facial features, a step closer to the ‘holy grail’ of predictive DNA testing to create a facial composite of an individual. Unfortunately, I don’t see this as being ready anytime in the next few years.
I am also quite amazed by what digitalisation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence tools can do for a forensic laboratory, for example, the gains in accuracy moving from a multiple linear regression model for age prediction to one using an artificial neural network. Most recently, I came across some articles relating to AI-supported automated imaging of sperm, which would significantly enhance efficiency in analysis of sexual assault kits.
Another tool of interest is the third generation sequencing using nanopore technology, and how this thumbdrive-sized device could potentially be used for real-time DNA sequencing at the crime scene.
Dr. Maria Corazon A. De Ungria: Investigative genetic genealogy compelled us to discuss the need to balance the interest of the public and private rights. With the recent discussions to include the DNA profiles of government employees in the law that would establish the national forensic database, the impact of this technology on the privacy of Filipinos would be greater. There are compelling arguments on both sides, which should be adequately addressed.
In addition, the misuse of ancestry informative markers to support a ‘racist’ agenda have highlighted the need for researchers to adequately communicate the value and meaning of scientific results to the general public.
What classes, speakers, or other resources have been indispensable as you stepped into a leadership position?
Dr. Iris Schulz: My experience in the last twenty years, from the lab to the lead, helped me to understand what’s needed in a leading position, or at least, I hope so. First, respect and listening are crucial for fruitful teamwork, which radiates into service, research and teaching. Everyone in a team has a central role and is as important. Second, making mistakes is not only ok but also almost necessary as long as you learn from them. Next, resilience, optimism, initiative and a solid work-life balance are definitively helpful or rather essential resources. Lastly, my peers (in the broadest sense), my family and my friends helped me keep up even if everything seemed to fall apart. With this, you at least believe that the solution is just waiting behind the next door, with your choice to open it.
Lynn Schneeweis: I have been fortunate enough to attend some great leadership seminars and courses of the years but the ones that I typically find most beneficial are those given by individuals who have actually supervised or managed in a forensic lab. While there are many supervisory and managerial skills that are transferrable from other fields, I firmly believe forensic science leadership brings with it some unique challenges and maddening little nuances that can only be understood by someone who has firsthand experience. I remember one of the first times I went to a forensic leadership seminar the speaker was John Collins and I walked away thinking, “wow, there are actually people out there who understand and have good advice on how to navigate this world”! Every time I attend a regional or national forensic conference, I try to hear the talks that are given by lab directors or other supervisors and managers because chances are I will walk away with some good advice or at least a new resource to reach out to.
Dr. Christopher Syn: Singapore has a civil service college that has various leadership courses designed for leaders at different levels. I have also found it useful to participate in a Public Service Leadership Executive Coaching program – it helps you dive deeper into specific personal leadership traits and behaviours. I also liked the “Good to Great” series by Jim Collins and the “Surrounded by XXX” series by Thomas Erikson. I think most important is keeping an open mind, one can learn anytime anywhere.
Dr. Maria Corazon A. De Ungria: I learned to lead by doing. I had never had the chance to attend formal courses on leadership and management because I was always time-strapped as a student, having to work and study simultaneously. My appointment as laboratory head being my first full -time job gave me no other option but to trust the example of those that have gone before me. I stood on the shoulder of giants to fulfill the laboratory’s mandate to pioneer the development of forensic DNA technology in the Philippines. I must have done something right because more than twenty years later, the team echoed the philosophy which I have shared with them through the years:
“The DNA Analysis Laboratory of UPD-NSRI dedicates its 20th anniversary to the victims of crimes such as sexual assault, human trafficking, and forced disappearances; to innocent persons who had been erroneously convicted; and to women and children whose rights had not been protected. The researchers of UPD-NSRI-DAL are committed to continuing our efforts to use excellent science, particularly in the fields of molecular biology and genetics, and to collaborate with other research groups and institutions to improve the Philippine criminal justice system by “putting science at the service of society.”
Who has been a mentor to you and what piece of advice from them has been influential in your own career? What advice would you share with others considering a similar career path?
Dr. Iris Schulz: Sadly, my mentor, PhD supervisor, and most inspiring person, Peter M. Schneider, has recently passed away. Since I started my career, he has supported me (as well as many of my forensic colleagues) with his in-depth forensic (and beyond) knowledge and helping attitude, advising routine casework, scientific projects or personal development. Going forward, I will continue to miss him and honour him by trying to support others as he did in attaining success, motivation and inspiration for forensics, giving room for guided but self-responsible development, and treating everyone with respect. In this context, I want to highlight the symposium to honour Peter’s person and work at the ILM Cologne in Mai23 (ISFG – Announcements).
Lynn Schneeweis: When I was in graduate school, I had the opportunity to learn from and work with a few people who I considered successful leaders in the forensic field. From day one, these individuals took a genuine interest in helping me succeed not only in the classroom but as I began my career. As a 22-year-old kid just starting out, it was not so much what any of them said to me but rather, how it felt to be treated with respect as if I was their peer (when I was clearly not anywhere close!) and to have successful professionals fully invested in helping me succeed that was so impactful to me. Twenty plus years later, they are still the people I turn to when this job gets overwhelming, and I need advice or someone to ground me with some tough love!
If I had to give advice to someone beginning in this field, I would say work hard to develop a network of colleagues and peers that you trust and respect. Attend professional conferences, join forensic organizations, and build those professional relationships because they will be invaluable to you as you move through your career. I have found that forensic scientists are, by and large, a group that loves to share their experiences and knowledge to anyone that wants to learn, especially scientists just starting out, so make the effort to make those connections and develop those resources and it will pay off over and over again.
Dr. Christopher Syn: I have had the privilege of learning from many people over the years. But I think the most memorable mentor would be my biochemistry professor when I was an undergrad. His 2 pieces of sage advice from some 30 years ago remain as relevant today. I don’t remember the exact words anymore, but one was something along the line of – “Develop and enable your staff so that they can do the right thing at the right time in the right way. Then you don’t need to do anything”. The other was, roughly – “You cannot have new things if your hands are always full holding existing things”. From where I am now, I can really appreciate the sagacity of his thinking and I am working to achieve it.
To others, I will share the same advice. One cannot do everything himself. One must learn to let go. Only when staff are well developed, empowered, and given the space to do the right things at the right time in the right way, then the organisation will be efficient and effective. And the leader will then have the bandwidth to look higher and look further to prepare for the ever-changing future.
Dr. Maria Corazon A. De Ungria: Two principal role models contributed to my development as a scientist. First, Professor Adrian Lee, my Ph.D. supervisor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, is an inspiring leader who motivates his students to strive to achieve their goals and aspirations. Under his able mentorship, my inclination toward scientific discovery was nurtured in a highly dynamic and productive research environment. Second, Dr. Saturnina Halos, founding head of the DNA Analysis Laboratory of the Natural Sciences Research Institute, University of the Philippines, taught me the value of communication and taking action. Promising ideas must be put into action, regardless of the obstacles along the way. Professor Lee and Dr. Halos are visionaries who passionately work to achieve their dreams of a better tomorrow.
I was also inspired to pursue a career in science by my parents – Remigio and Segundina, who, through example, taught me the value of hard work with a purpose that must be higher than self. As a child, I was always trying to find reasons for everything and searching for order amidst the chaos. In those early years, I could satisfy my yearnings for logic and order by immersing myself in science. When my parents realized this, they persevered to provide me with an enabling environment to be the best I could ever be. They fully supported my journey toward finding my path of service to the Filipino people and the rest of the world through molecular biology and forensic science.
For those considering a leadership path (or who are already leading the lab), consider attending these two workshops at this year’s International Symposium on Human Identification: