Meet a few people who have greeted challenging circumstances as opportunities for a new kind of success.
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Christine Giffin, a chemist in the forensic sciences laboratory in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Wilmington, attaches code numbers to the bottled samples taken from a deceased 35-year-old white male, whose autopsy was performed two days before. She measures the volume of urine and eye fluid. She weighs the brain.
Four people from the department—a supervisor, a lab technician and two analytical chemists—have recently left for other jobs, so Giffin and her four coworkers are doubling their efforts, which includes the exacting process of logging in specimens. But there is the issue of the 35-year-old man, and the Delaware medical examiner wants Giffin’s department to determine what may have caused his death.
To anyone but a chemist, the evidence seems plain. After all, it’s right there on the report: The subject was suffering from chronic alcohol abuse and had cirrhosis of the liver. It’s not that simple, however. Over the next several days, Giffin and her colleagues will put the man’s specimens through a battery of tests and technology to find any one of 11 compounds that may have been present in the man’s body. Giffin’s job is about alkaline screenings and DUI and post-mortem analysis in a lab filled with beakers and test tubes and chemical data, and it is a world she has known most of her life.
It is not certain whether Giffin’s career was preordained, but her father was a high school chemistry teacher, and by the age of 10, Christine had her own chemistry set and had measured the acidity levels of practically everything in her childhood home. “I remember turning water red and taking litmus paper and testing the pH levels of things around the house,” Giffin says. “I’ve always had a love of animals and was a pre-veterinary major in college, but I chose a career in chemistry because that’s what I truly love.”
Page 4: Fresh Starts, continues...