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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Forensic Science Society dispels myths about field, discusses club

Photo+courtesy+of+the+Forensic+Science+Society+at+Wichita+State
Photo courtesy of the Forensic Science Society at Wichita State

Forensic science is not just murder mysteries and true crime podcasts — it’s a distinct field that brings scientists into criminal justice. The Forensic Science Society at Wichita State has seen low membership for this reason, according to President Ashley Bennett. 

We get lumped in with like, ‘Oh, true crime. What you see on TV’ … But no, we’re the boring part: sit in the lab, run tests,” Bennett said. “Our club is really catered towards other forensic science majors, even though we welcome all, and I think a lot of new members are like, ‘Oh, this is not what I thought it was going to be.’”

Bennett has been the society’s president for two years, and the club has been at Wichita State since 2021. Now, Bennett, who uses she/they pronouns, is a senior who plans to graduate in May with a degree in forensic science. 

Bennett said that the main misconceptions about the Forensic Science Society stem from TV shows that follow characters solving murders mysteries when realistically, most forensic science work takes place behind the scenes.

“I think a lot of people think, ‘Oh, we go out in the field, too,’ which that’s mostly just our crime scene people,” Bennett said. “And a lot of people who are in the forensic science major don’t even want to be a crime scene person because that’s honestly more of a criminal justice thing.”

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, forensic science is the process of using science and scientific methods to investigate crimes and examine evidence in order to help make legal decisions. 

For members of the Forensic Science Society, it doesn’t take drama, gore, or suspense to fuel their interest, though. 

“It is fun, especially if you do really love science and you want to learn more about science and how science is applied to real life things,” Bennett said. “Crime is an everyday occurrence. So forensic science is that applied every day, and I think that’s really cool.”

The Forensic Science Society’s meetings focus on preparing students to solve real-world problems and develop career-oriented skills while still having fun. 

“In meetings, we talk a lot about modern technology within forensic science and how new technologies are helping with solving crimes,” Bennett said. “We talk about how do we get a job … because before the ATF came to WSU’s campus, we had a really hard time with our seniors getting jobs.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) opened the Crime Gun Intelligence Center of Excellence in Wichita State’s Innovation Campus in spring 2023, and it has become an important career resource for many Shockers in the Forensic Science Society, according to Bennett.

“This last round of seniors, (the) majority of them actually already work at ATF right now,” Bennett said.

Bennett also looks forward to the national forensic laboratory coming to campus, which she said will provide further career opportunities for forensic science students.

Despite less interest due to misconceptions about forensic science, the club still has fun staying true to the field. 

“We try to have little fun activities like murder mystery games and talk about case studies,” Bennett said. “One meeting, we talked about the recent Murdaugh verdict trial, and how this man really just decimated his whole life, and how forensic science played a part in that, especially computer forensic science.” 

The Forensic Science Society will begin meeting again bi-monthly in February. Anyone interested in joining the club can contact Bennett through ShockerSync

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About the Contributor
Lydia Steeby, Reporter
Lydia Steeby is a first-year reporter for The Sunflower. She's lived in Wichita her whole life and loves to be outside. A freshman, she is an undecided major exploring different career paths involving writing. Steeby also enjoys reading, playing the trumpet and making art.

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