A placement in paradise


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Forensic Science student Lisa Smith has been helping solve crimes on the island paradise of Seychelles during her placement year.

The De Montfort University (DMU) student secured a placement in her homeland of Seychelles, where the scenery is in stark contrast to the urban cityscapes of Leicester.

Lisa Smith Seychelles photo in lab

“It is a beautiful island paradise filled with white sandy beaches and diversity in nature. The three main inhabited islands have lush, green mountainous landscapes,” said the 21-year-old.

“The placement year is going well so far, it’s been filled with many exciting new opportunities especially in my field of study, and I'm happy to be able to gain some relevant experience for my CV.”

Lisa was delighted when her application was accepted. “I saw a newspaper article on how Seychelles was receiving new forensic equipment, and it sort of felt like a sign,” she said.

While most visits to Seychelles are trouble-free, the island nation does experience crime, as Lisa explained: “It is a developing country in the process of trying to provide better opportunities for its people and therefore still a work in progress, but hopefully moving in the right direction.”

Lisa has been attending crime scenes around the island and assisting with retrieving fingerprints from the scenes. She has also attended forensic autopsies along with photographing, sampling and labelling exhibits required for further examination.

Lisa Smith Seychelles article image

She said: “My placement is mainly laboratory-focused and usually consists of unpacking exhibits, sampling, measuring, noting relevant case information down, and finally sealing the exhibits.

“Presumptive testing of controlled drug cases are carried out, along with thin layer chromatography and conducting quantitative confirmatory tests if necessary. I have also been assisting with fingerprint enhancements using chemicals such as ninhydrin or basic yellow.

“I spent time at digital forensics as well, where I extracted data from electronic devices using software and analysed the documents and data that were relevant to the case I was assigned to.”

Lisa was also involved in a police day and careers exhibition at a high school showcasing and educating the students about forensics in Seychelles and potential career prospects.

Lisa Smith photo in school

Originally inspired to study forensic science by her favourite TV show, CSI: Miami, Lisa chose to pursue the discipline because she enjoyed problem-solving and trying to use logical reasoning and science to answer questions.

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She chose to study at DMU because of the course content and high student satisfaction rating, saying: “DMU has done a really good job in balancing the major aspects of forensic science for our modules.

“Forensics consists of many different subject areas, and the team has given me a good foundation in some of these different subjects. I'm so happy with the help and support from the lecturers and staff during my time at the university.”

Reflecting on her placement experience so far, Lisa said: “I would definitely recommend a placement year. It's a year off from studying, which is a nice change, along with gaining relevant experience and knowledge to better your CV and broaden your perspective for your own career path.”

Posted on Wednesday 19th February 2020

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