Vicky Mac Eoin – BSc (Hons) in Forensic Investigation and Analysis

Name: Vicky Mac Eoin

School: St. Louis Secondary School, Monaghan Town

Occupation: Forensic Toxicology Chemist in The State Laboratory

I always had an interest in science growing up. In secondary school it was the subject I loved most. I knew once I finished school I wanted to have a career in a science discipline and particularly in Forensics. When I seen Forensic Investigation and Analysis at ATU Sligo I jumped at the opportunity to apply and I was lucky to join the first intake of the degree in 2005.

I loved studying Forensic and Investigation Analysis. It starts out giving you a taste of the different areas of science and as the years progress, it advances into more specific areas. I particularly loved the labs. They gave me the opportunity to properly get stuck in and allowed me to apply the theory learnt in class to real life practicals.

One of the best aspects of the course is that in your first year you cover all the science subjects – chemistry, biology, and physics. I didn’t study chemistry at leaving cert level. Therefore starting with these core science subjects allowed me to get up to speed easily. This ensured I had a solid foundation moving into the subsequent years of the course.

Crime Scene Investigation and Management and Instrumentation used for Forensic Analysis were among by favorite modules to study. They gave more of an insight to the forensic side of the course and also into the use of the instrumentation, which sets you up for work in any laboratory. The course also gave me a flavor for Toxicology which lead me to my current field of work.

The course also gives a broad understanding of science and a great background in analytical chemistry. This knowledge allowed me to start of my science career working in the area of Pharmaceuticals. This helped me learn how to evaluate the quality of raw materials, in process materials and finished goods, and to ensure compliance with established international standards.

When I graduated, I took up a position as a quality control analyst in a pharmaceutical company. After a year, I was promoted to senior analyst. I then decided that I wanted to develop my chemistry knowledge and educational qualifications further by completing an MSc In Toxicology from NUIG. I also completed a Professional Master of Education (PME) with NUIG. This enables me to teach chemistry and science at secondary school level.

Following my studies, I took up a position as an analyst in the contaminates section of The State Laboratory. I work as a Chemist, in the field of Forensic Toxicology, in the Human Toxicology Section. I am responsible for testing bodily fluids and tissue samples from post-mortem cases. The Human Toxicology section provides an analytical and advisory service to the Coroner’s service to assist in establishing cause of death, in state and criminal cases. The analytical work carried out for Coroners provides evidence at inquests. This could be the presence or absence of prescription and illegal drugs and certain other substances. The State Laboratory also analyses biological samples for drugs in cases of murder, rape and deaths in custody. This provides competent and impartial expert witness testimony in court as required.

For anybody thinking about studying a Forensic Investigation course, I would say choose ATU Sligo. It is an excellent degree which ensures you have a broad science degree with excellent analytical science knowledge. This will allow you to progress into many different scientific industries. The Forensic Investigation and Analysis degree gave me the practical skills required to work in an analytical chemistry laboratory, but also enabled me to progress my studies further. The variety of modules in the degree can give you a taste for other areas that you might not be aware of.

The class sizes in ATU Sligo are small, which means you get to know your classmates very well. There is wonderful and affordable student accommodation right beside the campus and ATU Sligo is within walking distance to the city. There is a great variety of shops, nightlife and restaurants so you will definitely never be bored.

My advice to incoming students – get to know your classmates, go out and enjoy yourself, join different clubs and meet new people.  It’s one of the best times of your life so ENJOY IT!!

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