Archive for July, 2010

Women In Forensic Science: Brains, Beauty and Personality

The scientist then

Look at us now

Amy, Forensic Chemist

Amy, Forensic Chemist

I’m out at a networking event and I’m asked what I do for a living and the inquirer response is  “you don’t look like a chemist” .  What is a female chemist supposed to look like?   The old fashion stereotype of a female scientist<———- was replaced with fashionable women scientists possessing brains, beauty and personality.  According to the Washington Times, women dominate the forensic science field and 75 percent of graduates from forensic science programs are women which has increased over the years.  For example, the forensic lab that I’m employed at has more women than men forensic chemist’s and that is just one of the many forensic science labs across the nation that are 60 percent female ( statistics from washington times).  So you may ask yourself, why are so many women gravitating to this field?  Well the girl scouts had a helping hand at sparking a young girls interest in science at an early age, crime writer Patricia Cornwell, best-selling author; main character is chief medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpertta and how could we forget the C.S.I portrayal of very attractive female scientists.  Women are also seen as detail oriented and would rather work for a less competitive atmosphere with stable hours to raise a family.  At the lab, the women scientists vary in age, race and dress and we are not all nerds that lack a social life.  We don’t wear pen protectors and glasses have been updated with contacts.  Our safety glasses are even cool looking and we dress to impress accented with a sharp pair of shoes and an italian leather pocketbook.  Women In Forensic Science Rule:-)

Me "The Sexy Scientist", Forensic Chemist

Stephanie, Forensic Chemist

Kandis, Forensic Chemist

Mary, Forensic Chemist


Kush Is My Cologne

“Kush Is My Cologne”, the title of  the rap song by Gucci Mane is just one of many rap songs that gives praise to the high-grade strain of marijuana “Kush Cannabis”.  Kush refers to the strain of marijuana from indica cannabis which originated in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and eventually made its way to the United States.  It is the most preferred strain of marijuana in the U.S because of its potent psychoactive ingredient delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol despite it’s cultivating, possession and distribution penalties.  You can hear about “Kush” aka “purple kush” aka “hydro” from artists such as Lil Wayne, Twista and many others as they brag about the  hallucinogenic high they experience while smoking “Kush”.   Cannabis Sativa was made illegal by the Federal government and is a schedule 1 drug ( no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse) under the Controlled Substances Act.  Although the recreational use of marijuana is illegal, in some states  the medicinal use of marijuana is legalized which raises a lot of controversy. Indica Cannabis is just one of the many varieties of marijuana that has been cultivated from the species of marijuana Cannabis Sativa, but is the most preferred variety by many users because of the cultivating techniques used to increase the delta 9 THC potency. .  Marijuana is a hallucinogen that has long  and short-term effects on the body when used in excess over a long period of time.  Even though marijuana is used  medicinally by patients and has helped many suffering from various physical ailments due to illnesses, the legalization of marijuana continues to provoke debates worldwide.  We have yet to see if the government will ever legalize  the schedule 1 drug that possesses so many street names and used illegally by millions.

*posted video is used to demonstrate the lyrics as it is relates to the street name “Kush” only

Sippin on some sizzurp!!

The “purple drank”, “lean” and  “sizzurp” are just a few of the slang names used to describe the recreational use of  the  purple in color cough syrup promethazine with codeine.  Because of diversion, this prescription controlled drug has made its way onto the streets and into the hands of pro athletes.  On July 5, 2010, ex quarterback  for the Oakland Raiders JaMarcus Russell was arrested for the illegal possession of the controlled cough syrup promethazine and codeine.  It doesn’t surprise me  that cough syrup is so popular these days especially amongst the hip hop culture.  I remember back in the day when I heard the song “sippin on some sizzurp” by three 6 mafia and UGK and didn’t know what the heck they were talking about, but they sure did a good job glamorizing it in their video.  The video had a lot of pretty women on roller skates drinking  an unknown substance while the southern hip hop artists sang the hook “sippin on some sizzurp”.  The song was catchy , everyone grooved to it in the club and got high to the lyrics while they sipped on some cough syrup.  Why do so many people abuse this stuff?  Well codeine is an opiate that relieves pain and induces sleep  by depressing the nervous system and  is also the controlled ingredient in the syrup.  Codeine is very addictive and is just one of the many diverted prescription drugs that are abused .  Promethazine is the non controlled ingredient and is a sedative/antihistamine.  Both of these ingredients combined, causes the user to experience an euphoric effect which also makes them feel tired and sluggish.  After experiencing this downer effect, users may take an upper to enhance the drowsiness.  In Philadelphia, the two most abused syrups are codeine and promethazine which is purple and hydrocodone with chloropheniramine  is yellow.  Sometimes syrup abusers like to have pancakes with their syrup which is a slang term for adding  an opiate tablet to cough syrup .  The purple syrup is the most popular in Philadelphia and are usually packaged in approximately 2 oz unmarked glass bottles , but in the video pay attention to how the syrup is camouflaged in baby bottles.  The hip hop culture today consistently advertises drug trafficking  and drug abuse in their music ,so what do you think ?  Does the hip hop culture today promote drug abuse?

So are you like C.S.I?

If I received a dollar for every time I was asked this question, I would be a millionaire.  I think it’s interesting that I have been a Forensic Chemist for nine years and I only watched this show twice and I can’t recall if it’s the C.S.I. New York, Vegas or Miami (there should be a C.S.I Philadelphia :-)) that I got a glimpse of.  Well unlike C.S.I,  Forensic results are not processed within minutes and most Forensic Scientists do not have any contact with the crime scene or the defendants.  This fictitious dramatization of the Forensic Science field on C.S.I ( Crime Scene Investigation), a show about solving crimes with physical evidence  gives a false depiction of what a Forensic Scientist really does and has the public as well as the media misinformed about real life Forensic Scientists.  I’m a Forensic Chemist, but I analyze controlled and non controlled substances in the lab under controlled  and uncontaminated conditions.  I don’t visit crime scenes and  the timeliness of the results depend on the type of case I’m analyzing.  I was talking to my friend and coworker and she said that on one C.S.I episode, the Forensic actor performed a color test on cocaine and concluded that it was cocaine.  This is false in Forensic  Chemistry because one cannot conclude any drug from a color test.  I can recall when I began my career in 2001 when Forensics was just getting popular due to the alleged mishandling of  the physical evidence from the OJ trial and the season premiere of C.S.I in 2000.  Nowadays, everybody and their mom is trying to attend school for Forensics because of C.S.I also known as the C.S.I effect.  I can’t blame people for believing whats on TV, so that’s why I’m here to educate you.  Oh and by the way,while I’m not a big C.S.I fan, I enjoy watching Law and Order SVU.  toodles:-)