Orange Alert

Danai Taruvinga


Degree Year: 2019

Q: When did you join the M.S. in Forensic Science and when did you graduate?

A: I joined the M.S. in forensic science program in the fall of 2018 and I graduated in December 2019.

Q: Why did you choose the M.S. in Forensic Science at Syracuse University?

A: While I had a chemistry background, I was unsure of which path within the forensic science discipline I wanted to pursue. Syracuse University offered the exposure that I needed to the various sub-disciplines of forensic science. I wanted the flexibility to change my concentration if I wanted to, which is what I ultimately ended up doing. I initially enrolled with a focus on toolmarks and impressions evidence and switched over to toxicology halfway through my first semester.

Q: Who did you do your internship/research and how was it?

A: I did my research with Professor Ulrich Englich on the extraction of kratom metabolites in synthetic urine in the summer and fall of 2019. The experience was invaluable, and it set me up for success when it came time to apply for jobs. I also got the opportunity to present our work at the Toxicology Grand Rounds at the Onondaga Medical Examiner's Office and at the NEAFS conference that year, which further enriched my academic experience.

Q: Where are you working at the moment?

A: I currently work at the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office and Regional Forensic Crime Laboratory as a forensic toxicologist. It is located in Cleveland, Ohio.

Q: How do you apply the knowledge acquired in the M.S. in Forensic Science in your work?

A: The knowledge I acquired at Syracuse sits at the foundation of most of the work that I do on a day-to-day basis. While a lot of what I learned was theoretical, at work I apply that theory in practical ways. This made on-the-job training at the beginning of my career a little more manageable as I was reasonably familiar with a lot of the concepts, methodologies and practices that are needed for the job.

Q: What was a major advantage of having done your master's at Syracuse that has helped you at your current position?

A: By far the biggest advantage that I had from the M.S program came from the legal portion of the Advanced Forensic science course. Testimony training is incredibly important in this industry, and to have had a head start on that gave me a solid foundation and understanding of the legal system and how we relate to it as forensic experts. Three years later I'm still referring to those notes in preparation for my board exams. They were that good.