Scientist for justice

December 1, 2019

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

Ellyn Zeidman in lab

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.”

More information

Studying forensic science at TU

Nicknamed the “science MBA”, the master’s in forensic science combines chemistry, biology and mathematics to give you advanced scientific and laboratory training.