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Claire Graydon - Forensics

Claire Graydon
Claire Graydon, Graduate Forensics

While science and the scientific process have long been in my focus, I did not start my journey in the field of forensic science until some 12 years after finishing college.

My journey into forensic science began somewhat by accident really. I had been working in and managing a small retail business for about eight years, when I decided it was time for a change. I chose to act on a longstanding desire to join the police and I applied for a general duties position with the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Unfortunately my application was unsuccessful, and because there was a minimum time period between rejection and reapplication, I went looking for a way to better my chances of being selected on my next application. At the time, Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) were offering a one year bridging program called Pathways to Forensic Science, which was a targeted program aimed at entry into the Advanced Diploma and/or Bachelor Degree of Forensic Science, Crime Scene Examination.

After completing the one year bridging program, I found that I was enjoying the field of study even more than I had anticipated. Rather than reapplying for the AFP, I applied for enrolment into the Diploma of Forensic Science. At the end of the two year period of the Diploma, I saw no reason not to complete the final year to obtain the Bachelor Degree.

A large part of that final year of study was an undergraduate research project and thesis. It was as a result of looking for a topic of study for my thesis that I met Dr Steven Strach of Forensic Document Services (FDS); the company for whom I now work. While the topic of study that I chose for my thesis did not end up being directly related to document examination, I maintained contact with Steven and spent time in the FDS laboratory on a work experience basis. After a couple of months of work experience, I started on a part-time basis and then at the end of my final year of the Degree, FDS offered me a full time position and traineeship - and I haven't looked back. As part of my traineeship with FDS I am now undertaking the Advanced Diploma of Forensic Science, Document Examination through CIT to compliment my in-house training.

Since commencing employment with FDS I've been involved in a number of research projects and subsequently co-authored a paper on one of those projects with Andrea Devlin and Steven Strach (of FDS). The research and paper were presented by Andrea and Steven in Hawaii at the combined 2014 American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (ASQDE) and Australasian Society of Forensic Document Examiners Inc. (ASFDE Inc.) meeting. I then presented our research in Adelaide at the 2014 Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society (ANZFSS) symposium.

The paper, titled 'Line Direction Determination of Ballpoint Pen Ink Writing', was published in the June 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners. While FDS has already afforded me many great opportunities and experiences, this has gone down as a major highlight in my journey so far.

I relish the fact that even in a specialised field of forensic science such as document examination, the variety and scope of work is endless and there will never be a point where learning and discovery will cease. I think that is safe to say that I would not be on this exciting career path without the accessibility and affordability of the study programs offered by CIT. Additionally, many of the connections I made with students, lecturers and affiliates of the CIT programs have proven to be valuable and pivotal professional contacts as I move forward with continued study and my career.