In this special release episode of Just Science, we sat down with Ashley Church and Erin West, founders of Gap Science, to discuss stress and resiliency in crime scene investigators.
Traumatic death investigation can have adverse, long-term effects on crime scene analysts. As Ashley Church and Erin West moved through their respective careers, they noticed a lack of training around protecting the psychological well-being of forensic scientists. Gap Science is working to fill this void in knowledge and address the challenges that investigators are experiencing every day. Listen along as our guests discuss compassion fatigue, the supervisor's role in protecting their people, and the impact of violent crime scenes on forensic scientists in this episode of Just Science.
This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].
Erin West began her career in Forensics in 2006 as a Crime Scene Investigator for the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. In 2010, she became a Battlefield Forensics Instructor for the United States Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, where she was responsible for training military personnel how to use a variety of forensic disciplines to investigate crimes overseas. In 2012, she became a Supervisor, then a Deputy Program Manager for a Department of Justice Forensic Laboratory housed at American Systems, where she was responsible for training and supervising staff working in different forensic disciplines and at different levels of management. After leaving American Systems, she spent several years with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office in Florida working as a full time Latent Print Examiner. In 2019, she became the Forensic Supervisor over the Crime Scene Unit and DNA Laboratory at the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office and in 2020, she became the Latent Print Supervisor over the Latent Print Unit at the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. Erin earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida in 2006 and a Master of Science degree in Forensic DNA and Serology with a graduate certificate in Forensic Toxicology from the University of Florida in 2012. Erin is a member of the International Association for Identification (IAI) and the Florida Division of the IAI and has been a presenter at the annual FDIAI Conference. She is an instructor for TriTech Forensics and the co-founder of Gap Science LLC, a company offering training and resources for leaders in the Forensic disciplines. She is an IAI Certified Crime Scene Analyst and an IAI Certified Latent Print Examiner.
Ashley Church has always had a passion for forensic science and chased her dream job as a crime scene investigator throughout high school and college. After completing a 400+ hour internship at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for her undergraduate degree requirements in 2011, she continued her education in entomology where she was hired as a graduate research assistant. In addition to studying the impact of a highly prolific invasive species within a quarantined laboratory setting, she was responsible for collaborating with specialists, organizing materials, and developing presentations for a series of workshops as well as recruiting, training, and supervising undergraduate laboratory assistants.Upon completing her education, Ashley began her career in 2013 as a Crime Scene Investigator for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando, Florida. In addition to her duties as a Crime Scene Investigator, she was a field training officer responsible for training new crime scene investigators. In 2017, she became a Forensic Technician for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office in Kissimmee, Florida. In 2018, she was promoted to Forensic Supervisor and was responsible for supervising members of the Forensic Unit and Pre-Screening DNA Laboratory as well as training staff in these forensic disciplines to full competency. Ashley earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Science with a Minor in Chemistry and a Certificate in Crime Scene Investigations from the University of Central Florida in 2011 and a Master of Science degree in Entomology from the University of Florida in 2013. She also became a Certified Crime Scene Analyst through the International Association for Identification (IAI) in 2019. Ashley is currently a training instructor for TriTech Forensics and the CSI Academy of Florida. She has also presented at educational conferences, such as the Florida Division IAI and the Entomological Society of America. She incorporates her passion for science with a modern, energetic instructing style in hopes to inspire other leaders in similar fields. She is the co-founder of Gap Science LLC, a company offering training and resources for leaders in the Forensic disciplines.