Illegal narcotics, laboratories, court proceedings and sensitive information all sound like the makings of an incredible new crime drama. However, it was a real-life experience for CSE senior Paul Nguyen, chemistry, ’18, while he interned at the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education in Willow Grove, Pa.
“We identified different types of drugs, learned from the bomb squad and even got to attend a Vidocq Society meeting,” said Nguyen, who hails from Collingswood, N.J. The Vidocq Society is a group of law enforcement officers, chemists, former CIA agents and other specialists that meet once a month to try and solve cold cases.
A fan of crime television shows, Nguyen initially hoped to emulate the forensic chemists he would watch on TV. However, he quickly realized his field required a lot more attention to detail and couldn’t simply be wrapped up in just 45 minutes. Luckily, he enjoys the meticulous nature of his work.
“I love working in labs because of the precision required,” said Nguyen. “The experiments take a lot of time and you need to be certain of the substances you’re identifying.”
Nguyen feels particularly strongly about doing his part to eradicate the widespread epidemic of drug addiction because several of his friends have struggled with drug-related issues.
“Drug distribution and abuse is a significant problem and I’ve always felt that in order to make a difference, you would have to do it from within the system,” he said.
Studying at CSE has given Nguyen an incredible insight into the field of chemistry.
“We have great resources at CSE – from the high-grade instruments in our labs to the help we receive in finding internships and volunteer work through the Experiential Learning Center.”
He especially credits Dr. Kim Grant, a chemistry professor at CSE, with his success at the College.
“When I was applying to CSE after studying at a different college, I talked to Dr. Grant and she really made me feel wanted here,” explains Nguyen. “She went out of her way to walk me through everything, answer all my questions and that didn’t stop once I got here. I’m just very thankful.”
Ultimately, Nguyen hopes to work in a laboratory after graduating and earn an advanced degree to instruct others to become forensic chemists.
Learn more about our chemistry program here: www.cse.edu/chemistry.
Mary Colleen Robinson has a communication degree with a concentration in journalism and is currently working as the PR/Social Media Specialist at the College of Saint Elizabeth.