Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Rock N Forensics at Avondale Library Exposes Teens to Life of Forensic Scientist

by Roy L. Williams, Public Relations Director at the Birmingham Public Library

UAB forensic professor Elizabeth Gardner, Girls in Science

On June 21 at the Avondale Regional Branch Library, University of Alabama (UAB) professor of forensics science Beth Gardner hosted a Rock N Forensics program for teens that illustrated how this summer’s Birmingham Public Library (BPL) Summer Learning activities are providing knowledge far beyond reading books.

An associate professor of forensic science who has been employed at UAB since 2007, Gardner showed teens the important role science plays in the everyday world they encounter. Teens got to examine “evidence” from a case and learn how real life forensic scientists do their jobs. During the program, Gardner showed how much forensic evidence can be gathered from something as simple as a sock found at a crime scene.

Analyzing soil samples at Rock N Forensics

In keeping with this summer’s “Libraries Rock” theme, the workshop focused on the comparative analysis of soils. The participants looked at soil under a microscope, examined crystalline materials with polarized films, and ran a gradient analysis of the soil collected on the sock of a kidnap victim.

“I try to make the workshop fun and entertaining,” Gardner said in an interview prior to the Rock N Forensics activity.

Gardner has presented forensic workshops at the Avondale Regional Branch Library for several years since moving near the library after being hired at UAB. Though she has since moved closer to UAB, Gardner continues to be a loyal supporter of the Avondale Library.

Processing evidence at Rock N Forensics

Gardner said many young people aren’t aware of what forensic scientists do, and she hopes the exposure will help those interested in the field as a professional career. She said it requires a love of science and mathematics.

Prior to becoming a professor at UAB, Gardner worked as an assistant professor of inorganic chemistry at the University of Texas at El Paso. She has also served as a summer visiting faculty at the Purdue University Network for Computational Nanotechnology in West Lafayette, Indiana, and served as a NASA Faculty Fellow at the White and Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

For more information on Professor Gardner, click on this link: http://www.uab.edu/cas/criminaljustice/people/faculty-directory/elizabeth-gardner

Rock N Forensics is among over 400 Summer Learning programs for kids, teens and adults taking place at BPL’s 19 library locations this summer. For more information about remaining learning activities, click on the calendar at http://www.bplonline.org/calendar/. You can also print out a calendar of programs for children, teens and adults.

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