Alumni Spotlight

Where do our alumni end up after graduation? In this edition of Spectrum, we're catching up with two graduates who are making names for themselves in their respective fields.

Catching Up With Anastasia Berrier, M.S.'10, Forensic Science & Law

Anastasia Berrier"I work as a contractor for the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System in the Division of Forensic Toxicology. I started out working with the Military Working Dog program, but I have spent most of my time here working in accessions/screening. We receive biological specimens from military bases around the world and screen them for the presence of drugs and alcohol. More specifically, there are four basic types of cases for which we are responsible: aircraft incidents (basically any time something goes wrong with an aircraft and doesn't involve a fatality), investigative cases (such as drunk-driving cases and sexual assaults), postmortem cases (both combat and non-combat deaths) and aircraft fatalities (deaths resulting from an aircraft crash). We receive the cases and assign them accessioning numbers specific to our lab so that the identifying information is protected. We then assign screening tests based the case type. Our accessions staff rotates among the different tests, so I am trained to screen for drugs of abuse (in both urine and blood), ethanol and other volatile compounds, carbon monoxide, cyanide, bath salts and prescription drugs."

"Recently, I also spent some time working in the Department of Defense Quality Assurance lab that operates within our division; this was due to manpower needs. In that lab, we were responsible for sending out open and blind quality controls to the six drug testing labs that serve the Armed Forces. In addition to sending out the samples, we also had to test them alongside the labs. From that, I learned quantitation methods for the various drug classes."

"Having worked in three different departments within the Division of Forensic Toxicology, I can say that my experience at Duquesne was definitely a help. Because of my education, I had the knowledge to be able to work efficiently in multiple areas and to pick up on the methods quickly and without too much time spent in training. I'm now able to train other members of the accessioning staff as they come through. It's good knowing that I can go and work where I'm needed."

Catching Up With Matthew John Taylor Wilding, B.S.'11, Chemistry

Matthew John Taylor Wilding"I'm currently working in the Betley research group in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. I've been working in the group since the summer of 2011. My research focuses on understanding the underlying electronic structure of organometallic compounds and utilizing this knowledge towards the application of small molecule activation and catalysis."

"My experience at Duquesne was important because I received the benefit of a very close community of educators and students. My professors were very invested in my learning and success. At a larger university, this specialized attention is traded for a number on a roster sheet, and a student's success or failure can seem inconsequential to those in charge."

"The professional relationships I formed at Duquesne have legitimately followed me into my professional career. At the spring American Chemical Society meeting in New Orleans, when I walked to the podium to begin my talk, there was an awe-inspiring influx of people–former professors, classmates, lab mentors–with whom I've lost touch since moving away. The room was packed with standing-room only, and I was faced with the smiling faces of support and excitement and finished my talk to a roar of applause. That's what my time at Duquesne has done for me: established professional connections and, more importantly, friendships that have followed me on to the next phase of my career. It's really with excitement that I get to wonder how and when the 'old Duquesne crew' will resurface and help me along in the next stages of my career, whatever they may be."

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