Ep. 18 Bridging the Gap: A Dive Into Forensic Science, Mentorship and Mental Health

Forensics Found

31-08-2023 • 39 mins

Crime scene investigation, mathematical crime-solving, mentorship, and entrepreneurship are all in the mix as your host, Katharine Pope sits down with the dynamic duo behind Gap Science: Erin West and Ashley Church. Intrigued by shows like CSI and driven by their love for science and math, both Erin and Ashley embarked on careers in forensics.

Their conversation takes a deeper turn as they unravel the profound role of mentorship and leadership in shaping their career paths. Erin and Ashley discuss the impact of supervisors and mentors who nurtured their professional and personal growth. They both advocate for the value of mentors who can challenge you and help cultivate your leadership style.

They also delve into their entrepreneurial journey that gave birth to Gap Science, an adventure filled with business conferences, trials, triumphs, and the quest for work-life balance.

Their chat takes a serious note as they talk about mental health in the forensic field, highlighting the need for professionals to be equipped with the right resources and information. They remind listeners that it's perfectly okay to ask for help. To wrap things up, they explore the impact of community and feedback on Gap Science’s success. So, tune in and join us for this valuable dive into the world of forensics!

Topics Covered

Exploring Careers in Forensic Science

Mentorship and Leadership Development in Career

Work-Life Balance

Mental Health and Forensic Professions

Resources Mentioned

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About Erin West

Erin West began her career in 2006 as a Crime Scene Investigator for the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. In 2010, she became a Battlefield Forensics Instructor for the United States Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, where she was responsible for training military personnel how to use a variety of forensic disciplines to investigate crimes overseas. In 2012, she became a Supervisor, then a Deputy Program Manager for a Department of Justice Forensic Laboratory housed at American Systems, where she was responsible for training and supervising staff working in different forensic disciplines and at different levels of management. After leaving American Systems, she spent several years with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office in Florida working as a full-time Latent Print Examiner. In 2019, she became the Forensic Supervisor over the Crime Scene Unit and DNA Laboratory at the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, in 2020 she became the Latent Print Supervisor over the Latent Print Unit, and in 2021 she became the Forensic Manager.

Erin earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida in 2006 and a Master of Science degree in Forensic DNA and Serology with a graduate certificate in Forensic Toxicology from the University of Florida in 2012.

Erin is a member of the International Association for Identification (IAI) and the Florida Division of the IAI and has been a presenter at the annual FDIAI Conference. She is the Director of Region 2 of the FDIAI. She is an instructor for TriTech Forensics. She is an IAI Certified Crime Scene Analyst and an IAI Certified Latent Print Examiner.

Contact: erin@gapscience.com



About Ashley Church

Ashley Church has always had a passion for forensic science and chased her dream job as a crime scene investigator. After completing an internship at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for her undergraduate degree, she continued her education in entomology where she studied the impact of a highly prolific invasive species within a quarantined laboratory. She was also responsible for collaborating with specialists, organizing materials, and developing presentations workshops as well as recruiting, training, and supervising undergraduate laboratory assistants.

Ashley began her career as a Crime Scene Investigator for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando, Florida. After completing her first year, she became a field training officer.

In 2017, she became a Forensic Technician for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office in Kissimmee, Florida and she was promoted to Forensic Supervisor in 2018. She was responsible for supervising members of the Forensic Unit and Pre-Screening DNA Laboratory as well as training staff in these forensic disciplines to full competency.

Ashley earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Science with a Minor in Chemistry and a Certificate in Crime Scene Investigations from the University of Central Florida in 2011 and a Master of Science degree in Entomology from the University of Florida in 2013. She also became a Certified Crime Scene Analyst through the International Association for Identification (IAI) in 2019.

Ashley currently works full-time for Gap Science. She incorporates her passion for science with a modern, energetic instructing style in hopes of inspiring other leaders in similar fields.

Contact: ashley@gapscience.com

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*All conversations between guest and host represent the opinions of the participants and do not reflect official statements or facts from any represented agencies.

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