You won’t see them at a crime scene. They won’t be arresting a suspect, either.
Instead, two of the GBI’s scientists are more likely to be spotted wearing a coat and goggles, working behind the scenes in labs to help other investigators solve cases. Both hope to inspire more women to pursue science careers, including in jobs they may have never imagined.
And both ladies were recently promoted to their current roles, just in time for Women’s History Month in March.
“It’s linking the lab work that I’ve always liked with helping the community, too,” Brittany Scott told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Now in her ninth year with the GBI, Scott is the assistant manager of the chemistry section of the GBI Crime Lab. She loved science growing up but found the hands-on work much more enlightening. Her lab is responsible for identifying drugs after evidence is seized from all over the state, such as when pills are found during an investigation.
With the recent rise in the number of counterfeit pills along with more fentanyl, the GBI chemists are always busy working to determine exactly what’s inside that evidence. The goal is to help get traffickers off the street. Scott’s work has involved helping identify drugs stuffed into toys and statues, such as when people attempt to hide illegal substances while passing through the airport.
“It links the interest and love I’ve already had for chemistry and labs to real-world applications,” Scott said. “What we do impacts real-world lives.”
Lindsey Shelton is a different type of scientist for the GBI, where she combines her background in anthropology, archeology and biology as the assistant manager of the impressions section for the crime lab.
Latent prints, tires and footwear are the areas of focus for the impressions lab, Shelton said. Fingerprints and shoe marks found at crime scenes are among the evidence that might get submitted.
The GBI is an assisting agency, meaning law enforcement agencies from around the state rely on those in the crime lab to pull together some of the pieces of a case. Sometimes, Shelton is asked to testify in court on her lab’s findings, much like Scott.
“It’s very visual and it makes it very easy to show and demonstrate,” Shelton said of the work in the impressions lab.
Shelton is hopeful that her daughter and other young girls will consider science as a career.
“I want any of the young girls to be exposed to it,” she said. “Try it and see. Follow your passions and your interests.”
Her work is exciting, particularly since her lab has helped solve cases by matching prints to individuals when investigators were previously unable to identify a suspect, Shelton said.
“Is it like CSI?” Shelton said she’s sometimes asked by people who watch television crime shows.
“No, it’s not,” she said. “But it is still very cool and challenging, but rewarding at the same time.”