Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day 12 & Day 13

Yesterday and today consisted of writing more of both of my papers. Yesterday I wrote the rough draft of my 'experience' paper. Today I edited it and rewrote parts of it. I also looked over my research paper yet again. I wrote down a lot of questions to ask Beth tomorrow when I meet with her to discuss my research paper. The whole scientific research paper process is very new to me, but I am enjoying the entire process completely. I don't find it very hard to write these papers for the simple fact that I find everything interesting and new.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Day 11

Since Friday was not an extremely productive day I decided to combine Day 10 post with today. Day 10 consisted of writing a little more of my paper. I did not go to the Sheriff''s Office Friday because both Beth and Ashley had training. Today I have almost finished the results and discussion section of my paper, but of course it needs plenty of tweaking. I also had a meeting with Dr. Pittman about the outline I prepared for both my papers. Since there is an actual research section to my interim, I will be writing a scientific research paper along with an 'experience' paper. I have started the abstract, but it is so difficult to condense an entire 2 weeks of research into one paragraph. I have also given a little thought into what I would like to discuss for the presentation, but am a little nervous about that. Hopefully Forensic Chemistry will be interesting to the college community.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Day 9

Today was a bit crazy. I came in a little late because Ashley is also teaching a class at Spartanburg Methodist College. I arrived and was under the supervision of Beth. She gave me advise about how to write the experimental part of a research paper. Today I wrote the experimental part of my paper and then wrote it again about 3 times. I have not had to write a formal research paper before so it was tough for me to be as detailed as I needed to be. This process was interrupted because Ashley was called out for a bomb squad emergency and I just took an early lunch. When I arrived back from lunch I was again supervised by Beth. I have completed the experimental portion of my research paper although it still needs to be reviewed. Tomorrow I hope to complete another section of my research paper. I was also informed by Beth that next week I may be able to attend a court case with her to see another aspect of the job. That sounds extremely exciting!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Day 8

Today was a rather short day, but I did seem to get something accomplished. The day started out with meeting Lt. Ashley Harris at the Sheriff's Office and then driving to Byrnes High School in the Bomb Squad truck. That was an experience all in its own just because I have never been in a vehicle that size. We arrived at Byrnes High School and unloaded the robot so it could be shown to a Criminalistics class. Ashley thought it would be a good opportunity for me to get and see another aspect of the Sheriff's Office. He did a demonstration for the class, showed them a bomb squad video and gave them a brief tour of the truck. After that he had duties to take care of in Columbia so I was released for the day, but I have written the introduction and results of my research paper and he will review them with me tomorrow. I also made Excel spread sheets of all the data from the 7 Trials that were done. I have a VERY basic outline for my paper, but that also needs be address within the next day. I believe tomorrow will be more work on my paper. It was also discovered today that the data obtained did not have any direct correlation to the percentage of each chemical used. There is however a visual aid to determine roughly which chemical is in a higher percentage, but we have yet to figure out a way to determine the exact percentage that it was prevalent in.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Day 7

Today I had to analyze all of the results from the IR scans. I had to 'pick peaks' that were important and then note their absorbency. This was somewhat hard because I had to 'pick peaks' that were important but were not moved or combined with any other peak. I started by picking peak of the 100% mixtures, such as 100% Caffeine and 100% Guafinesin. I placed both peaks on one page and picked the peaks that were recognizable and peaked at a place in which the other did not. For instance I would pick a peak for Caffeine that was prominent and at the same place Guafinesin did not have a peak. Today was basically a day of compiling data. I also made a mixture of Cocaine and Benzocaine today. This was Trial 7. Today was less 'hands-on' and I think I am seeing the complicated and difficult part of conducting research.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Day 6

Today Trial 5 and 6 were completed. Trial 5 Consisted of Cocaine HCl and Cocaine base. Trial 6 consisted of Benzocaine and Crack (Cocaine base). There was a total of 3 samples for each trial. Since there was a limited supply of Cocaine HCl and Cocaine base, it had to be used sparingly. Also this part of the research takes a little longer because Ashley Harris has to supervise me very closely. He has to keep a log of how much cocaine was used, why it was used, what time and what date it was used. They take all precautions to avoid error at the Sheriff's Office. Each day that I am at the Sheriff's Office I learn something interesting besides the research that I am performing. Today I watched Lt. Ashley Harris make Chem Print. It is a substance that is used to lift fingerprints off surfaces in which it is normally difficult to get a fingerprint. For example lifting a fingerprint off of glass is relatively easy, but when you try to lift a fingerprint off of paper it becomes very difficult. This is why Chem print is used as a vapor to attach to the amino acids left behind by your fingers. I did not get to see him lift a fingerprint, but I thought the explanation was very interesting. I also got to tour the evidence storage room. Drug cases are kept in storage for a little over six months and Homicide cases are kept for about 75 years!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Day 5

When I started to run the third trial I realized that it was damp. This did not seem right since all the other samples that I ran on the IR machine were powder. Finally we found that when Lidocaine base and Benzocaine base were combined it reduced the melting around room temperature. I attempted to remix them and immediately place them on the IR machine, so they would not have time to melt. I discovered that upon mixing them they immediately started to melt. I only ran a couple of these samples. Instead it was suggested that I make another trial using Lidocaine HCl and Benzocaine. The samples of these mixtures did not melt when combined together and the readings for them came out wonderful. This means that I have run 4 Trials and have another two to finish. My 5th Trial is going to be Cocaine base and Cocaine HCl ( Cocaine and Crack). With the supervision of Lt. Ashley Harris I found the readings for 100% Cocaine base and 100% Cocaine HCl. Today started out confusing, but a lot was accomplished. This weekend I hope to start labeling the peaks and determining which peaks on the IR readings will be important to concentrate on and note for my research.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Day 4

Today was a long and successful day. I finished all of the samples for Trial 1. I also began and finished all the samples for Trial 2. ( Trial 1: Caffeine and Guafinesin & Trial 2: Lidocaine base and Lidocaine HCl) This means I have about 16 IR readings, not including the 'blanks' that I ran in between each sample to make sure that there was no contamination. The results that were expected still seem to be found also with Lidocaine. Tomorrow I will hopefully finish the third Trial and start making the mixtures for the fourth Trial. (Trial 3: Benzocaine and Lidocaine & Cocaine and Crack) Everything is coming along smoothly and it seems as if I will have plenty of time to finish my research at the Sheriff's Office.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Day 3

Exciting news, the IR machine is fixed! I actually got to start running the samples that I made for the first trial. I started with Caffeine and Guafinesin. I tested 100% Caffeine and 100% Guafinesin on the IR first. These results were important for a good comparison to the other samples that I would be testing. I also ran 54% Caffeine(46% Guafinesin) and 27% Caffiene(73% Guafinesin) samples on the IR machine. These results showed what was expected. It was expected that since there was less caffeine on the second run then the peaks representing Caffeine would be smaller. I again was able to see how cases that come in the lab were handeld. Today was a very productive and I expect tomorrow to be as well.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Day 2

Today I arrived at the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office at around 8:00 and left around 3:15. Today the samples for the third trail was made. The Sheriff's Office was very busy this morning so I was able to watch Ashley Harris asses some cases that were brought in. There is another Forensic Chemist that works with him, Beth, and I was also able to see her techniques today. The IR machine might not be fixed until tomorrow or Thursday, but I will continue to make samples until the IR is up and running. Progress is being made slowly, but the experience is amazing so far!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The First Day

Today was an exciting day and also the first day of my Forensic Science Internship. I discovered within minutes that the research that was planned had been placed on the back-burner for a more interesting and important topic. I will be working with IR equipment. More details are to come about exactly the methodology of this experiment.
I am working with Ashley Harris at the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office. He is a Forensic Chemist and I hope to learn as much as possible from him in the month during Interim. He introduced me to the Infrared machine and unfortunatly it needs to have a part replaced so that part of the research may be delayed, but other aspects can be addressed while this problem is being attended to.
I am measuring out mixtures of certain substances and mixing them together; these substances will eventually be measured by the IR machine once it is running. I measure how much of these substances by having a pure sample of A and a pure sample of B. I then take 10 %of A and 90% of B and mix then together, and then 20% A and 80% B. And this continues untill I have at least six vials of different percentages of A and B. It is going to start with common substances like caffeine and progess into cocaine. Since pure drugs are most commonly not received in the lab, this research could help to show how the IR machine would react to these different mixtures in percentages of drugs. As noted earlier I will give many more details to how this research progresses. I am looking forward to the next month!