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Forensic Science Grads Working in Afghanistan for U.S. Army

Most forensic science students envision careers spent working in city or county crime labs and testifying in U.S. courts. But for a number of recent graduates of the master's in forensic science and law program, that career vision now includes deployment to Afghanistan.

Since 2009, seven Duquesne forensic science and law graduates have been hired by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory (USA CIL) in Atlanta.

"It's quite remarkable that they hired a couple of our graduates, continued to be pleased with them and then hired more," said Dr. Fred Fochtman, director of the forensic science and law program of the Bayer School for Natural and Environmental Sciences. "It's a good site for our students to launch their careers."

Christine Swanson, a 2010 graduate of the program, started her career with the USA CIL as a latent print examiner shortly after graduating.

"Duquesne prepared me very well for the job," said Swanson, who lives in Atlanta as do the other DU alumni working at the lab. "It helped starting right out of school because a lot of that basic knowledge in forensic science was still very fresh in my mind."

The USA CIL has two main divisions: a forensic analysis division, which is a traditional crime lab based in Atlanta, and the expeditionary forensics division for which Swanson works.

"We're really different because our division is deployable," explained Swanson. "Rather than working to provide evidence for court cases, our end goal is to provide intelligence to the military community overseas."

Swanson's first deployment to Afghanistan was from August 2011 to May 2012.

"At first, it was a little intimidating," Swanson said of the deployment. "But it proved to be a deeply rewarding experience. I'm able to see how my work directly helps the active-duty military who are putting their lives on the line for us."

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.