Sun Prairie native Jen Yoder was among the six students and two faculty from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Chemistry Department who recently attended and presented research at the 42nd annual meeting of the Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists in Dayton, Ohio.
Yoder is a junior chemistry major with an emphasis in criminalistics. Majors in the department’s criminalistics emphasis in chemistry continued a long tradition of active participation in this conference under the mentoring of Dr. Charles Cornett and Dr. Joseph Wu.
Wu’s work with the Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement was instrumental in securing funding for student travel to Dayton to present the various projects involving his and Cornett’s students and crime laboratory partners in Wisconsin and Florida.
In addition to presenting their research on error rates in measuring ignitable liquids and creating color tests for law enforcement to determine new synthetic street drugs, students received the opportunity to explore many areas through poster exhibitions, breakaway sessions and professional presentations.
Among those were how to set up a lab to conduct autopsies in mass disaster emergencies, and how the composition of caffeine will break down bleach, which was useful in solving a poisoning case.
“Something I learned from attending the conference is that everything needs to be investigated, even if it doesn’t seem important, because it could turn out to be one of the most important parts of a case,” Yoder said.
This was Yoder’s first time attending the conference, giving her a chance to explore exhibits and network with professionals.
“In this field you have to keep being curious,” she said. “You have to be constantly curious and wanting to learn more.”
UW-Platteville was one of six universities in the Midwest with students presenting their research at this conference of more than 250 forensic scientists. “Undergraduate research adds value to a student’s education because many employers are looking for research experience,” Wu said.