Under the Microscope with Student Ambassador Julia Wang

Julia Wang is working towards her PhD in Forensic Science at Sam Houston State University and will be representing ISHI as a Student Ambassador this year. Her curiosity for natural sciences first led her to study human biology and cell biology for her undergraduate and master’s degrees. Julia’s passion for research was nourished during this time by being able to pose her own research questions and watching scientists of various backgrounds push the boundaries of scientific discovery. After studying and working for a few years in animal and clinical research, she recognized that she wanted to pursue an applied science where the fruits of the labor could be seen within her lifetime.


Julia’s current research focuses on improving the analysis methods of sexual assault evidence. Her post-graduation plans are to continue in bridging the space between state of the art research and crime labs especially in reducing the turnaround time in sexual assault evidence testing and reducing the sexual assault backlog. She wants victims of sexual assault to be able to receive justice and closure as quickly as possible.


We caught up with Julia 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 graduation, and what she’s most looking forward to at ISHI this year.



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

Having developed a passion for cell and molecular biology in an academic setting, I wanted to find an avenue where I could apply my knowledge more broadly. As a graduate student, I felt a little out of place seeing professors and classmates build a deep dedication for a particular protein or molecular pathway. Once I started to look into applied sciences, I saw forensic biology as the perfect combination of critical thinking, cell biology, and social responsibility.


What do you like most about working in the forensics field?

Compared to studying traditional cell biology and biochemistry research, I get exposure to many other sciences. I feel lucky to be amongst practitioners, researchers, and classmates from all different disciplines. Learning from different perspectives helps stimulate collaboration and keeps my own mindset fresh.




How do you describe what you do/your job to family and friends?

I usually give a sample of my 3 minute thesis while keeping the big picture in mind. The goal is to develop new tools for forensic scientists to have when working with sexual assault evidence. My research looks at sexual assault evidence analysis at different angles: refining what is starting to be used now (Y-screening), changing current methods by a little bit (immunomagnetic spermatozoa isolation), and a completely different angle (microbiomics).


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

After seeing ISHI 33, I am excited to meet international scientists, see the application presentations, and attend the offsite event!


What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Asking for help is not a weakness. Reaching out when you need help is beneficial both to you and to the people you trust to help you.


What are you hoping to do after college?

I want to continue to surround myself with driven, selfless people. Like many students, I know I have many options to which I can apply the knowledge and skills from this degree. I think the best decisions I have made have come from recognizing kind, dedicated people who want to do good work. Whether my future is in academics, public, or private sector, I want to prioritize these qualities.





What is one song that would be on the soundtrack of your life and why?

September by Earth, Wind & Fire.

This was definitely the hardest question! Ultimately, this is a song that never fails to cheer me up and want to dance, which I spend a lot of time doing anyways. Also, it is perfect for karaoke when you don’t want to be the only one singing.


Anything else you’d like to share?

I am honored to be an ISHI Student Ambassador this year and excited to meet everyone at ISHI 34. Please feel free to come up to talk in person or reach out on social media. See you in Denver!



Julia, thank you for letting us get to know you a little better! Follow Julia on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK or connect with her on LINKEDIN.