Several alumni of the University’s undergraduate and graduate programs in forensic science and graduate program in forensic technology are now applying what they learned in the classroom to their work at Bode Technology, a company that specializes in DNA testing.
December 2, 2022
When Chrissy Campanelli ’21 MS was growing up, she loved watching the popular show “NCIS”. She wanted to be just like Abby, the forensic scientist on the show.
Campanelli was inspired to pursue her own career in forensic science. After earning her master’s degree in forensic technology from the University of New Haven, she began working for Bode Technology, specializing in evidence sampling. Within a year, she was promoted to forensic DNA technologist. She’s now being trained to perform DNA analysis, including extraction, separation, and detection of a DNA profile.
“My degree focused primarily on how to identify and collect evidence from crime scenes,” said Campanelli. “The courses I took provided me the forensic knowledge required to work in a forensic laboratory. Throughout my studies, I also met those who presented Bode Technology to me as a career opportunity.”
Putting together a puzzle
Campanelli is one of at least 11 Chargers who now work for the Virginia-based Bode Technology, which provides DNA testing on current and backlogged cases. Her colleague and fellow forensic DNA technologist Kenny Jean-Bart ’22 MS also earned her master’s degree in forensic technology. She chose the program because she already had some lab experience and wanted to learn more about the dynamics of crime scene investigation, as well as how it connects with analyzes done in the lab.
As a Charger, Jean-Bart was a member of the University’s Graduate Forensic Science Club, serving as the sergeant in arms during her final year. It was through her involvement in the club that she learned about the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Annual Conference. When she attended, she met representatives from Bode Technology, which, ultimately, led to her job offer.
“My favorite thing about my job – and forensics in general, really – is that to me it feels like I’m putting together a puzzle,” she said. “We only get a snippet of the case as a whole, but using the information we do get to make decisions that could potentially help get victims justice feels amazing.”
‘Justice for the victims’
Kaitlyn Gencarelli ’19, also a forensic DNA technologist, earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and forensic science from the University. She says her classes and labs enabled her to learn all the aspects of forensic lab work that are now key parts of her job, such as sterile techniques and how to handle a variety of specimens.
A member of Bode Technology’s North Carolina team, Gencarelli samples the evidence sent by clients. She and her team are also working to process the state’s backlog of sexual assault kits.
“This includes maintaining a proper chain of custody, sampling evidence such as swabs, underwear, and sanitary pads,” explains Gencarelli, who also earned a master’s degree in forensic medicine from the University of Maryland-Baltimore. “I love knowing I am providing some form of justice for the victims, and I like knowing I can make a difference. I hope to continue my career in forensics, possibly by going into physical science or death investigation.”
‘I love knowing the work I do truly makes a difference’
For the past year, Michael “Ike” Ireland ’21 was a member of the sampling team at Bode Technology, processing evidence to best allow for extraction of DNA. Recently promoted to be a forensic DNA technologist, he is now a member of the lab support team. He enjoys taking an “active part in the criminal justice process,” helping to process the backlog of sexual assault kits. He says his time as a forensic science major at the University prepared him well.
“I didn’t fully appreciate the classes I took until I started working here and I had the opportunity to employ the lessons I’d learned,” he said. “Because of my University of New Haven education, I am able to fully grasp the concepts and practices far more readily. I am grateful to all of my professors. Their time teaching the next generation goes so far, further than most realize.”
Campanelli, the grad of the master’s program in forensic technology, is still “obsessed” with “NCIS”, and she’s excited that she’s now working in a lab just like Abby, doing what “I always wanted to do.
“Working at Bode surrounds me with co-workers who are able to bring light to my day, even on the cloudy ones, and who enjoy their job just as much as I do,” she continued. “I love knowing the work I do truly makes a difference in the victims’ lives. While sometimes the individual work we do seems small, working together as a team really makes a huge difference, and that’s what keeps me going.”