Kayli Carrillo is in the Forensic Science Program at Sam Houston State University and will be representing ISHI as a Student Ambassador this year. Her interest in forensic science began around eight years of age while in third grade. She discovered a keen interest in crime-solving television programs. CSI: Miami became her favorite never-miss show. Kayli’s found the intricate details and techniques applied to crime-solving fascinating with her ever-consistent viewing partner (mom). Consequently, her elementary and high school teachers quickly learned that she had a profound passion for forensic science.
Kayli’s passion for forensic science only continued to grow as she progressed through her high school years; as a result, she conducted much research surrounding the steps necessary to pursue a career in forensic science. Learning about the complexities of DNA is what initially captivated her and sparked her interest in pursuing forensic biology.
We caught up with Kayli 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.
Kayli, thank you for talking with us today. Can you tell us a little bit about how you become interested in forensic science?
Like many others, at a young age, I became interested in forensics due to tv shows. My favorite of all time was CSI: Miami, and I would tune in every week with my mom. For Christmas, I remember receiving CSI toys which sparked my love of science. My passion for the field continued to grow during my undergraduate career at the University of North Texas, where I graduated with a degree in biology and a certification in forensic science. I desired to dive deeper into forensic biology and decided to pursue graduate school.
What do you like most about working in the forensics field?
I love how diverse the field is and how it is all interconnected. I am constantly learning something new from my friends and colleagues who are focusing on different areas of forensic biology or from my friends in other disciplines.
How do you describe what you do/your job to family and friends?
I tell my friends and family that forensics is not as glamorous as the media portrays but is still fun, nonetheless. We’re a small but pivotal role within the realm of criminal justice. Forensic biologists are the ones who are in the lab who process the samples that were received from CSIs. I compare the data analysis portion like a matching game; matching the peaks from the electropherogram can help exclude or include individuals.
What are you most looking forward to at ISHI this Fall?
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from leading professionals in the field and gain valuable insights through attending workshops and showcasing the research I’ve been working on. I am excited to engage with peers and experts from all over the country and around the world.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Imposter syndrome is a challenge that many individuals, myself included, have encountered. At times, we tend to be overly critical of ourselves. However, it is important to remind yourself of the hard work you have invested and take pride in the progress you have achieved so far. Especially in graduate school, it is essential to take each day at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
What are you hoping to do after college?
I am open to all opportunities after I graduate, whether that is in academics or becoming a DNA analyst. Whatever path is presented, I want to mentor and help the next generation of students.
What is one song that would be on the soundtrack of your life and why?
The song “No Vale la Pena” by Juan Gabriel would be on the soundtrack of my life because it reminds me of home. Whenever I am feeling homesick, this song reminds me of my roots back in El Paso, Texas. It is one of my favorite songs to jam out to in the car. Juan Gabriel is an icon in Mexican culture, and his songs are always played at home. The phrase “no vale la pena” roughly translates to “it’s not worth it” and serves as a reminder to let go of trivial worries.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I am truly thankful for this experience, and I am so excited to meet everyone at ISHI! I would also like to thank my current and past mentors for always believing in me.