Rene Friedrichs

BSc (Hons) Forensic Sciences, 2007

Tell us about your current role and what it involves?

My days can be quite varied due to the nature of foreign material analyses, but also because I have some operational and people management responsibilities. 

The foreign material analyses can be very varied. It ranges from routine testing such as glass fragments found in a food product to suspected counterfeit investigations. I also interact with a wide range of clients from various industries (e.g. pharmaceutical, food, cosmetics), who require investigative testing into production contamination or due to consumer complaints. In some cases, the analyses that I conduct for the pharmaceutical industry are so critical to patients’ health, that I may even get called in out-of-working-hours or on weekends, as they may prevent the release of a highly specific drug product, which could save someone’s life or prevent serious harm.

I also manage a number of technicians and scientists. I help them to develop not only their technical skills, but to provide them with opportunities to learn other skills, such as project management when working on larger, cross-functional projects.

Another aspect of my role includes operational management of the department, such as planning and scheduling of the Emergency Response cover or project assignment. This also includes putting together a cross departmental team with focus on structural characterisation and image analysis.

I very much wanted to become a Forensic Scientist, helping with the analysis and interpretation of crime-related scientific evidence. In my previous role, I did work as a Reporting Forensic Scientist, but I soon realised the role wasn’t for me. The work I’m doing now is quite similar, but rarely involves reporting results to a court of law.

Admittedly, I do enjoy challenges and I’ve had quite a few over the years. My greatest challenge so far has been setting up and managing a start-up laboratory (outside of my area of expertise) for UKAS accredited testing. Having had only a couple of months to write Operating Procedures, oversee the installation and qualification of equipment, recruit and train new staff and manage stakeholders. I have worked 12+ hour days, including weekends, and with the help of my technical specialists and senior management, we’ve managed to create a functioning and accredited laboratory, which was a real success. As this was a secondment role, very much setting up the lab, a permanent and experienced team leader was recruited, allowing me to return to my previous role.

 

All of my lecturers and professors over the four years were fantastic, not only explaining the content well, but for making it so interesting and applicable.
Rene Friedrichs | Reading Scientific Services Ltd | Senior Scientist II, Investigative Analysis – Microscopy

What about your time at Abertay? 

I enjoyed my four years at Abertay. Yes, it was hard work, but the people and professors were fantastic. I loved it! The partnership between Abertay and the police, and the crime scene that’s purpose-built for practical modules, were things that I thought would be a great benefit to the course. It enabled me to become a Special Constable and allowed me to work with Scenes of Crime Officers at real crime scenes, as well as assisting in the police mortuary.

The analytical modules and forensic investigation and interpretation have been very useful. They helped me put things into perspective. I feel that this has given me the necessary understanding of the theories and principles. All of my lecturers and professors over the four years were fantastic, not only explaining the content well, but for making it so interesting and applicable. I am so glad I chose to study at Abertay and would do it again without hesitation.

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