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Alumni Profile
Ben Sarno '05





Ben Sarno; Criminalist in the New York Police Department�s Forensic Investigation Division

I currently work in the NYPD crime lab located in Jamaica, Queens. More specifically, my official title is a criminalist in the CSAS (controlled substance analysis section) of the FID (forensic investigation division). I analyze evidence that comes into the laboratory for the presence of controlled substances and meet specific charges based on weights and purity. Typically the caseload is about 5 per day, and it never ceases to amaze me the way people find ways to try to conceal drugs. I�ve been doing casework for almost a year (after a year of training), and every day is different because you never know what you are going to get.

What led you down the path to where you are now? I graduated from St. Michael�s College in 2005 with a bachelor�s degree in Biology. I soon learned that it was quite difficult to find a job in biology due to lack of experience. It was at this point that I decided to go back to school. I knew around my junior year that I wanted to pursue a career in forensic science and that getting a job in that field could prove difficult given the competition (TV shows had sparked everyone�s interest in the field) and the state of the economy (very few labs were hiring at the time). I graduated from the University of New Haven with a master�s degree in forensic science and a concentration in criminalistics in 2008. While I was doing that I was working full time as an analytical chemist in Enfield CT with a company called STR (Specialized Technology Resources Inc.) It is a worldwide consumer products testing company, so I tested consumer products (mostly kids toys) for toxic chemicals. Working full time and driving across the state of Connecticut 4 times a week for grad school classes was quite difficult, but it was worth it when I finished. The internship I had during grad school was amazing. I worked in the DNA analysis section of the CT state crime lab in Meriden CT. I got the chance to DNA profile my entire family and worked on a validation project for a robotic instrument that performed DNA extractions.

The problem I had with my career path was getting enough experience in biology. My main interest has always been in biology and I loved every biology class I took at St. Michael�s. I always wanted to apply my education to the biology aspect of forensic science (DNA analysis) and I hope to do that in the near future, maybe by transferring to a different department in the lab. I feel like all my experience in chemistry is pushing me further and further away from that, but hopefully that will change. NYC was a great place to start in my field. The lab is so big and it was an opportunity I couldn�t pass up.

What experiences in the Saint Michael's College biology department prepared you for your post-graduate training and your career? The biology department and the overall liberal arts education at St. Michaels has shaped me into the person I am today. I give so much credit to the professors, who challenged me and taught me so much, specifically Dr. Lippert my advisor, Dr. Lubkowitz, Dr. Bozzone, and Dr. Green. I definitely miss the science club trips to Montreal!

What advice would you give current Saint Michael's College students interested in graduate study and/or specifically interested in your field? My advice is to network as much as possible and make connections especially with a field such as forensic science. Get as much experience in your field of interest as you can if you are looking for something specific.


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