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Hailey Gonsalves ’23 has a dream – to one day work in a crime lab. Specifically, she wants to test the biological trace evidence - the materials commonly collected from crime scenes - to help catch the perpetrators. So, when she was applying to college, she found that Curry College would be just the right fit for her career aspirations.
As a double major in Forensic Science and Biology, Hailey chose Curry knowing she would get a unique learning experience conducting faculty-led research, which is a requirement for all students in the sciences here. “The experience I’ve received doing research will be so valuable to me once I enter the workforce, and this is something you just won’t get at other schools,” she said.
Not only did she conduct high-level research, but she was able to do it right here on campus, 131 wooded acres of land located adjacent to the Blue Hills Reservation.
Hailey was part of the Decomposition and Theoretical (D.E.A.T.H.) Ecology Laboratory research group, which is led by Dr. Samantha Sawyer, Forensic Entomologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Hailey and her lab mates investigated the geospatial and temporal variation of wildlife and necrophagous flies, as well as the influence of increased surface area to volume ratio of remains on necrophagous insect production. All phases of research were conducted on Curry's campus soil, utilizing its ideal environmental conditions.
With Curry’s small class sizes built for one-on-one support, Hailey loved the opportunity to form personal connections with her faculty colleagues. “My favorite part about faculty-led research was creating a close connection with my professors while gaining first-hand knowledge and advice in their field. I’ve learned so much from our research advisors, Dr. Sawyer and Dr. (Elizabeth) Wade, who are both always there to help and support me.”
Hailey has gained valuable exposure to the process and professionalism of research in both the biology and forensic science career fields and will be included as an author of a publication in her research findings. “Undergraduate students across the board rarely have the ability to publish,” said Dr. Sawyer. “At Curry, our students can be listed as the first authors, and in a highly competitive job market, that really stands out.”