Discovering Forensics Leads Student Toward a Career in the Lab

Kelsie Faulds | Undergraduate, Forensic & Investigative Sciences

(Update: Faulds graduated in May 2013 with a B.S. degree in Forensic and Investigative Sciences. She currently works as a BioDesign Director at Inworks in Denver, Colorado.)

It took only one basic forensic science class in high school before Kelsie Faulds knew what she wanted to do for her career. Choosing where to go college was just as easy, as IUPUI offers the only accredited Forensic and Investigative Sciences (FIS) program in Indiana.

Faulds, a senior, was quick to answer when asked why the growing program in the School of Science is the right place for her.

“I love the program because it’s small, and I know just about everyone,” said Faulds, of Clinton, Ind. “IUPUI is a large university, but in the program you get to work with people and spend time with people you see in class everyday.

“Even the advisors and instructors know me and know what I want as a student,” she added.

Program faculty and advisors integrate fully with campus student groups and clubs. Everyone connected with the program works toward its growth and the success of its students, Faulds said. The sense of community creates a support system and propels students to do their best in the classroom, lab and in pursuing their career goals. 

As a freshman, she immediately became part of a strong learning community by living in the Women in Science House on campus. She immersed herself in opportunities to make friends and associate with like-minded science majors, she said.

Kelsie Faulds

Kelsie Faulds and fellow student Gina Dembinski discuss data in their DNA analysis. They both work in the lab of Dr. Christine Picard.

“I have developed lifelong friends since coming here. The culture really made it easy to get involved and be excited about being part of this growing program,” she said.

FIS advisors and mentors provide students a level of personal attention that might be harder to find at larger programs at other universities. Despite a still-growing student population, FIS majors also have access to meaningful research projects, equipment and the most up-to-date technology available in the industry.

Now preparing to graduate, Faulds said the overall package—from environment, to training and research experiences—has left her confident she will continue to grow as a forensic scientist when she leaves IUPUI. She is applying to graduate school before pursuing a Ph.D. that will allow her to research human genetics or diseases.

“People connected to the program focus on preparing you for graduation,” said Faulds. “I feel ready to go right into a job if I wanted to. Because the program requires such a strong background in chemistry and other science disciplines, I really feel like I have a lot of options where to take my career.”

But for now, Faulds has her sights set on a career in the lab. 

As part of her capstone experience, she has been working for the past year in lab of Christine Picard, Ph.D. assistant professor in the FIS program. Faulds analyzes the DNA of flies and maggots, which is helpful when trying to determine if a body has been moved, she said. As a result, she has been able to lead her own research project and hopes to co-author a published research piece before graduation.

Faulds also has attended national forensic research conferences and has held leadership positions in the IUPUI Forensic Science Club. She has studied abroad in New Zealand and France through IUPUI programs.

“When I started the program, I knew nothing about forensics except for what you see on TV. This really is a field that requires strong knowledge of science, which is what I love, and I’m excited there is still so much research that needs to be done to know the true potential of forensics,” she said.

When not in class or the lab, Faulds said she enjoys playing the piano and reading. Her study abroad experiences helped grow her love for travel, and she hopes one day continue her research internationally.