Meet Our Alums – Meena Aldouri – CLS Grad and Crime Scene Investigator
What sparked your interest in the Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) Program at UTEP?
I became interested in the Clinical Lab Science (CLS) Program after meeting with my guidance counselor. We discussed my goals in working in forensics, and she mentioned that the CLS program would be very beneficial for the transition into that field. Afterwards, I asked her to change my major to CLS.
Tell us about the most interesting experience you had as a CLS student.
One of my favorite and most interesting experiences was being a part of a civilian tour at the Fort Bliss Army Base. I was able to learn about what our men and women in the military do daily and out in the field. I went to William Beaumont Army Medical Hospital to see how their clinical lab was set up and observed all the procedures they could perform. I learned so much more about the clinical lab sciences and how it applied in a hospital setting, as well as how it can be a great tool out in the field.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree in forensics? How did your CLS degree prepare you for that transition?
My goal for what seemed like my whole life was to work in the forensics field. I first became interested in the field of forensics from all the shows on TV, including Unsolved Mysteries, CSI and CSI New York, Criminal Minds, and NCIS. I was so intrigued with the field of forensics and all the different ways an investigation could be solved. Working as a crime scene investigator was my dream since I was in middle school, and I worked so hard to get to where I am today. I got my CLS degree because it allowed me to learn lab protocols and procedures, as well as various techniques that can very easily be transitioned into a crime lab setting. Often, some of the same equipment and instruments are used but for different purposes.
Tell us about your current work as a crime scene investigator. What are some of the skills you use on a daily basis that you incorporate into your work?
As a crime scene investigator, I have many roles and responsibilities. My main duty is to gather information and data and perform professional crime scene analysis that may involve any or all the following activities: receiving initial call notifying Crime Scene of an incident, initiating investigations, and photographing and processing a scene. This can include firearms analysis and trajectory, blood spatter analysis, and processing the scene for fingerprints. I also document, collect, and process physical evidence. In current times and given all the technology, we also collect and analyze digital and video evidence.
In these investigations, I work in cooperation with the patrol deputies and officers, detectives, and the medical examiner investigators if they are called to a scene. Evidence that is collected is sent to the crime lab, where it is analyzed by a specific specialty, for example, the DNA lab or the firearms lab.
As a crime scene investigator, I sometimes perform presumptive testing in the field or back in the evidence work room, where it is later submitted to the crime lab for more testing.
I work a variety of crime scenes, including accident hit and runs, fatality accidents, fraud cases, death investigations (suspicious deaths, suicides, and homicides), burglary and theft reports, domestic and assault cases, sexual assaults, and many other assignments. I also assist other agencies that need crime scene analysis or fingerprint analysis performed for their cases.
I have gained knowledge and experience through my education and job. I am a Board-Certified Crime Scene Investigator through the International Association for Identification. I am also a Certified AFIS Latent Examiner.
With my education and experience, I have learned to be meticulous, organized, and very observant, which are great qualities to have in crime scene investigations. These are also great qualities to have in a clinical lab setting.
What would you tell a prospective student who is interested in clinical laboratory sciences?
The clinical laboratory science degree is an excellent and versatile degree that can lead them down a variety of avenues. This may include continuing education in the same field or in a more specialized science. It can lead them into working in a hospital or private clinical or research lab, becoming an EMT or paramedic, or even working in a crime lab and becoming a crime scene investigator.
For more information about the Clinical Laboratory Science Program, please visit: www.utep.edu/chs/cls.