The Charger Blog

Forensic Science Graduates Look Forward to Applying What They Learned

Meet three recent graduates of the University of New Haven's forensic science program. Active members of the University community, they are now preparing for graduate school and to launch their careers.

July 23, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Rachel Graziano ’20.
Rachel Graziano presented her research at the Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists conference in 2019.

In reflecting on her time as a Charger, Rachel Graziano ’20 says some of her favorite memories occurred while collaborating with Claire Glynn, Ph.D, a former forensic examiner in England, who serves as the research coordinator for the University’s Forensic Science department.

As part of her Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) project, Graziano, who completed a double major in forensic science and biology, investigated the use of DNA methylation patterns in certain gene targets to determine the age of an individual. As part of her Honors thesis, she explored public opinion regarding the use of public genetic databases in law enforcement investigations.

“My time at the University has allowed me to grow into a more confident, well-educated, and well-spoken person,” said Graziano, who will begin her master’s degree in genetic counseling at Bay Path University in the fall. “I now see myself becoming more of a leader, and I was able to learn more about myself than I could have ever imagined. Without this personal growth, I would not be where I am today and as ready as I am to take on the world around me.”

Image of Ryan Zdenek ’20.
Ryan Zdenek ’20 presented his research at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences 72nd Scientific Meeting in California.

Ryan Zdenek ’20 also immersed himself in research as part of his SURF and Honors thesis projects, and he was an active member of the University community. President of the University’s Forensic Science Student Association, he also served on the executive board of Delta Delta Epsilon, the forensic science honor society. Zdenek, who studied at the University’s Tuscany Campus in Prato, Italy, in the summer of 2018, is also planning to continue his education this fall. He will pursue his doctorate in analytical chemistry at Penn State University.

“My time at the University of New Haven has given me the communication and professional skills I need to succeed,” said Zdenek, who earned degrees in forensic science and chemistry. “I have been able to learn so much about research during my time at the University, and it has prepared me for graduate school. I have seen myself become a more well-rounded individual, ready to take on an array of possibilities in the future.”

James Liang ’20 M.S., another 2020 graduate of the University’s Forensic Science department, has accepted a position as an associate lab technician at Fulgent Genetics, a California-based genetic testing company, where he will be conducting COVID-19 testing. An evangelical Christian, he is also completing an online master’s degree in philosophy from Southern Evangelical Seminary. He hopes to eventually pursue his doctorate, as well as a career in academia.

Image of James Liang ’20.
James Liang (right) and his classmates visited Disneyland while visiting Anaheim, CA for the American Academy of Forensic Sciences 72nd Scientific Meeting.

While pursuing his master’s degree, he served as a teaching assistant in the University’s Forensic Science department as part of the Provost Assistantship Program. His role, he quickly found, extended beyond supervising students during labs and preparing materials for undergraduate- and graduate-level courses, enabling him to foster a sense of community, which extended to the classroom.

“The small class size within the forensic science graduate program was very conducive to creating close relationships with my classmates and professors and developing a sense of belonging,” said Liang “Among my favorite memories are giving class presentations to an audience of close friends who were rooting for my success.”