Carrie Wise

Using Forensic Expertise to Help Loved Ones

The most challenging aspect of the 10-year career of forensic trace analyst Carrie Wise (Bachelor of Science in Biology ‘05, Master of Forensic Science ‘07), is overcoming the emotions stirred up by extremely troubling cases.

However, Wise, who specializes in this area at a local lab, says that she combats these hurdles by staying objective while doing her best to deliver justice to the victims and their families. “It is normal as a human to go through distressing emotions, but there is always a job to be done, and finding the right balance is key.” In contrast, the most fulfilling aspect of her job is using analytical techniques to validate her hypothesis, she says, because she enjoys seeing the scientific method solve the story based solely on facts.

“You have to be passionate and love what you do. You need to be willing to give yourself to the process, and ensure that you have a mind that questions everything.”

To be a successful forensic scientist, Wise says, “You have to be passionate and love what you do. You need to be willing to give yourself to the process, and ensure that you have a mind that questions everything.” This curiosity serves her well when combing through evidence and microscopic details. Documentation is another crucial element of the job at which one must excel to ensure that all evidence is recorded.

Wise, who is also an Adjunct Faculty Instructor for the School of Graduate and Professional Studies, teaching the Trace and Crime Scene Investigation courses, was a member of the first class of Stevenson’s Forensic Science graduate program. At a young age, Wise knew that she wanted to give back to the community, and she says that her current career is the best avenue through which she can achieve that goal.

“The knowledge that so much information could be extracted from these tiny items completely enthralled me.”

While attending Stevenson, Wise found her interest in forensics sparked by Ellen Roskes, Ph.D., Associate Dean, Chemistry, Math, and Physical Sciences. From her first year in the Forensic Science program, it was absolutely clear to Wise that this was what she wanted to do. During her rotations and visits to different labs, she got a feel for the forensics field and was instantly enamored by the day-to-day work. Faculty members in the program, who were all current or previous practitioners in the field, used their professional experience to teach her what would be expected from her in the field. One case that cemented Carrie’s desire to work with trace evidence came from a visit to a local crime lab where debris included paint, drywall, and animal hairs. “The knowledge that so much information could be extracted from these tiny items completely enthralled me.”

A mother of two, Wise cites her family as inspiration because they remind her to change, try new things, and be the best person she can be. The victims and their families also serve as an inspiration to her. “I always remind myself that each victim was someone’s baby. There are people who love and care for them.” With the heartfelt goal of bringing comfort to each of these families, Wise truly makes a difference in her community.