This fourth episode of the “Strengthening the Forensic Workforce” season of the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Assistant Professor Jessica Zarate and 5th-year student Kristen Szabelski at Michigan’s Madonna University, as well as Dr. Christine Picard, an Associate Professor and Director of the Forensic and Investigative Science Program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, who discuss their forensic impression and pattern education programs.
An introductory note suggests that many people immediately think of fingerprints or bloodstain patterns at the mention of impression and pattern forensics; however, this area of forensics is diverse and includes the analysis of additional types of evidence, such as footwear impressions, firearm toolmarks, and questioned documents. The current interview addresses the importance of research and experience in programs of education and training in impression and pattern forensics, based on the diverse perspectives of those interviewed. After a review of the educational and professional backgrounds of those being interviewed, it is noted that both of the universities represented by the interviewees have accredited forensic science programs. These are briefly described. The programs involve a lot of hands-on learning. All interviewees note that research is a major feature in their education programs. They also indicate what NIJ funding has been received for the research they have conducted and the features of that research. It is noted that such funding is a major component of of providing students a hands-on experience in forensics methodologies. Mentorship structures and intern programs at the represented universities are also discussed in the interview, along with student attendance at forensic conferences.