Scientist for Justice

Ellyn Zeidman ’19 developed a new way to analyze crime scene DNA, and won a competitive forensic science award for her research.

Ellyn Zeidman

Ellyn Zeidman is going to Disneyland.

Just in her down-time, though. She’ll spend most of her visit to Anaheim, California, across the street at the convention center attending the 2020 American Academy of Forensic Sciences annual meeting — a perk of being chosen for a 2019 Emerging Forensic Scientist Award from the Forensic Sciences Foundation.

“The award is a huge honor,” says the Virginia native, whose work was selected from more than 70 national submissions.

Zeidman’s winning paper on the development of a groundbreaking method of analyzing crime scene fluids was the result of research she conducted as a graduate assistant in Associate Professor Cynthia Zeller’s forensics lab, an opportunity that came with more than just a chance to do cutting-edge research.

“I would call Dr. Zeller a mentor 100 times over,” says the recent graduate, referring to the encouragement she has received from Zeller both inside and outside the classroom/lab. “She has been so supportive in everything that I have decided to take on. . . . She has been instrumental in my graduate career.”

“ I would call Dr. Zeller a mentor 100 times over. ”

Ellyn Zeidman

As Zeidman prepares to start work as a forensic scientist in the DNA Unit of the Massachusetts State Police, she fondly remembers her early obsession with television dramas like “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” which showed the then eighth grader a career path she has followed deliberately ever since.

With a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech, Zeidman says she chose TU’s master’s in forensic science program because of its accreditations, hands-on experience with instrumentation and faculty invested in student success.

Now she has the skills and experience to live her dream of using forensic science to work toward a more just world.

“Not only are we fighting to keep bad people off the streets,” explains Zeidman, “but we’re also fighting to keep good people out of jail.”

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