Christina Pidgeon, a graduate from Trent’s Forensic Science program, fell in love with solving crime when she was in high school, and never looked back – now she’s a forensic services assistant (FSA) with the Hamilton Police Service.
On a typical day, you’ll find Ms. Pidgeon documenting crime scenes through photography and note taking, collecting and examining fingerprints DNA, and other physical evidence, or Downloading CCTV video footage in relation to a crime. Looking back, it was her experience at Trent’s Forensic Science Camp in Grade 10 that Ms. Pidgeon says unearthed her passion for solving crimes.
“There was no doubt in my mind that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” says Ms. Pidgeon.
From there, she focussed senior-level high school on courses in biology, chemistry, and some physics, along with an Advanced Placement (AP) biology course, to help gain an edge with her university applications. She applied for the B.Sc. in Forensic Science program at Trent in 2014, was accepted, and officially started her learning journey. After graduating in 2018, she applied for Trent’s M.Sc. in Forensic Science, completing that program in 2019.
Supportive and encouraging faculty
Reflecting on her time at Trent, Ms. Pidgeon reminisces about three professors who a tremendous impact on her academic life – Dr. Barry Saville, Dr. Rhonda Smith, and Dr. Mike Illes.
“They were always incredibly supportive and cared a lot about the success of their students,” she says. “Whether it was an enthusiastic air guitar entrance for my first lecture of Introduction to Forensics, the many opportunities for us students to demonstrate our knowledge, or the chance to pursue our desired career paths through mentorships and memberships, the faculty were always available to chat, help you better understand subject matter, and give encouragement.”
Small campus and unique forensic facilities an attraction
Aside from the beauty and compactness of the campus, the use of Trent’s Crime Scene House (Trent recently opened a brand-new Forensic Crime Scene Facility), the DNA Forensic Research Centre with its state-of-the art laboratories, and small class sizes were key factors in her decision to study at Trent.
“It was the only one of its kind when it came to Forensic programs in Ontario and made for an extremely immersive experience,” says Ms. Pidgeon. “Trent allowed me to make meaningful connections with professors that lasted throughout my university career and afterwards. I wasn’t just a number, I was able to network and make a name for myself among students and faculty members alike.”
Hands-on learning opportunities are at the core of Trent’s academic programming. Ms. Pidgeon believes that the combined theoretical learning and practical experience at Trent prepared her well for her career.
“The techniques used in labs were identical to those used in the field, so that by the time I started as an FSA, I already had all the training needed to do this job and do it well,” she says.
Ms. Pidgeon also completed a graduate placement at the Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaires et de Medecine Legale in Montreal, which gave her the opportunity to build a strong network of forensic professionals and become a confident young professional. During that time, she completed two bloodstain pattern analysis-related research projects.
While she is still considering next steps in her career path, Ms. Pidgeon is sure to continue living her passion for forensic science and believes her career will always involve fingerprinting and bloodstain pattern analysis.