Under the Microscope with ISHI Student Ambassador Nidhi Sheth

Nidhi Sheth is pursuing her Ph.D. at Rutgers University, working under the supervision of Dr. Catherine Grgicak in the Laboratory for Forensic Technology Development and Integration and will be representing ISHI as a Student Ambassador this year. While in the lab, she became privy to the sources of variation associated with bulk DNA mixture interpretation, and became keen to solve this issue for the most complex samples. She attributes help from her lab group and ongoing support from Dr. Grgicak for receiving a graduate research fellowship award from the National Institute of Justice. This opportunity allowed her to pursue her education and research in the field of forensic DNA analysis while working toward developing a forensically relevant single-cell pipeline. She will be presenting this work at ISHI 32 this year.


We caught up with Nidhi 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.




Nidhi, thank you for talking with us today. Can you tell us a little bit about how you become interested in forensic science?

My interest to work in the field of forensic was mostly influenced by my grandfather who was a criminal lawyer in India. Hearing stories about his most challenging and convoluted cases captivated me and profoundly influenced my decision to pursue a career in forensic science.  I became interested in forensic DNA analysis after taking the Advance Topics in Forensic DNA analysis course at Pace University. The course work made me realize the importance of DNA analysis in the field of forensics and weight it holds in human identification.



Can you describe your area of interest for our readers?

Forensic DNA Analysis is something that captivates my interests. What amazes me about the field is how much information can be gathered from just one cell.  It was only after starting my Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Catherine Grgicak I was able to see the field of forensic DNA analysis through a very different lens.



Working on the interpretation of single-cell EPG’s using OSIRIS Software, along with working on DEPArray Instrument for Single-cell sorting and single-cell collection


What are you most looking forward to at ISHI this September?

I am looking forward to attending a conference in person after the Pandemic. I am also looking forward to learning more about current research in the field, attending workshops and meet colleagues with similar interests.


What are you hoping to do after college?

After completing my Ph.D. in forensic science, I hope to establish a career as a DNA analyst. I am also interested in teaching forensic science.


Do you have any advice for others looking to get into forensics?

The field has immense power to help provide justice to the voiceless. If you are a curious person and enjoy chemistry and biology, forensic science is a wonderful choice.



Since we’ll be at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort this year, which Disney character is your favorite or do you relate to most? Why?

My favorite Disney character would be Simba from The Lion King. What makes the character so relatable is how Simba gathered the courage to fight for justice and stand-up for himself. I wish someday I could be instrumental in providing justice and give something back to the society even if it is in the smallest possible way.


Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I was recently awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to work on “Selectively analyzing and interpreting DNA from multiple donors with a full Single-Cell strategy.” I am grateful to NIJ for the support as it will help me acquire my Ph.D. while developing a forensically relevant single-cell pipeline, which will solve the DNA mixture conundrum.



Nidhi, thank you for letting us get to know you a little better! Be sure to follow Nidhi on INSTAGRAM or TWITTER or connect with her on LINKEDIN.