Andrea Ramírez Torres is working towards her MPS in Forensic Science in the Biology Track at Penn State University and will be representing ISHI as a Student Ambassador this year. She graduated from FIU in the Fall of 2021 as a Real Triumphs Graduate with her B.S. in Biochemistry, and will be joining Penn State’s Forensic Science Master’s program this Fall 2022 on a full-ride scholarship for the two years of the program as a Wieland Graduate Scholar. As an ambassador for the International Symposium on Human Identification, Andrea will present her current work on studying the genital microbial transfer between individuals. Having attended ISHI in 2021, she knows the value and importance of communicating with leaders in the forensic field. Communicating the work she is doing in the lab is the way to get it introduced into the field, and ISHI would be the ideal place to receive feedback as well as exposure on how the genital microbiome could be integrated into forensic labs. Andrea aspires to innovate new methods for human identification for applications in sexual assault casework so that there is ni una menos.
We caught up with Andrea and asked her to tell us a little more about herself, including how she became interested in forensic science, what she plans to do after she graduates, and what she’s most looking forward to at ISHI this year.
Andrea, thank you for talking with us today. Can you tell us a little bit about how you become interested in forensic science?
I’ve always been passionate about social justice and advocacy against gender-based violence. I was volunteering for FIU’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month programming when I came across papers and news articles about how forensic science was evolving to help reduce the sexual assault kit backlog. Being a chemistry major at the time, the idea seemed fascinating and I made the choice to pursue forensic science as a career.
What do you like most about working in the forensics field?
I love that in the forensics field we’re all working towards a common goal to help people.
Can you describe your area of interest for our readers?
I’m interested in anything that will help sexual assault survivors! I am very application-driven, so I am willing to try any technique, method, or specialty in the lab if it means I’ll get to my main goal. I am also very interested in exploring how innovating science and implementing new methods in forensic labs can impact victim perspectives on the criminal justice system.
What are you most looking forward to at ISHI this Fall?
I’m looking forward to listening in on all the presentations as well as getting feedback from professionals in the field about my research.
What are you hoping to do after college?
I’m still deciding what option is best for me, but after I finish my master’s program I will either continue into higher education to pursue my Ph.D. in Biochemistry or I will begin working in the industry at a forensic lab.
Do you have any advice for others looking to get into forensics?
Research is such a great avenue to get your foot in the door and see what field within forensics you’re most interested in! It’s also a space where you can make some really meaningful connections. Don’t focus entirely on just taking the classes in your major.
Since we’ll be near Washington D.C. this year, if you were President of the lab for a day, what would you mandate?
If I were president of the lab for the day, I would mandate all labmates to say three things they’re excited about doing in the lab that day before being able to get their day started!
Andrea, thank you for letting us get to know you a little better! Be sure to follow her on INSTAGRAM or TWITTER or connect with her on LINKEDIN.
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