Graduates @ Corthals Lab


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Graduate monsters illustrations by the Oatmeal

Maryia ‘I can blanch that!’ Bezugly

My name is Maria Bezugly and I am incredibly proud to be a part of the Corthals Team. My current interests lie in forensic anthropology, but they have evolved from a passion for the arts. I emigrated from Ukraine with my family about 18 years ago to begin a life in the USA. My family’s’ hopes for me were to obtain an education and an opportunity to do the type of work that I wanted to do. And so, I have been lucky to have a chance to explore my drawing skills and evolve them in the world of art. In high school, I took a particular liking into the world of European art and ancient archaeology. I then attended Hunter College, part of the City University of New York at which point, the scientific and medical field piqued my curiosity into the biology field.  Nevertheless, I continued to dive deeper into art and took courses on Biblical archaeology and Middle Eastern art and culture. When I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Medical Laboratory Science, I obtained a position in a particularly stimulating and unique field of work- on the role of genes and chromosomes in cancer, at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.  This position has provoked many of my thoughts about the role of genetics in pathogenesis as well as the applicability of cutting-edge technology for the future of molecular testing. From that point on, I had a strong desire to apply my love for art, my experience in clinical work and my inquisitive determination into the world of forensic science. I joined the Masters program at John Jay College and took an interest in forensic pathology.

At the present time, I am currently working in Mount Sinai as well as focusing on completing my degree at John Jay. My Masters thesis is guided by Dr. Corthals and it focuses on  the detection of trauma in the setting of decomposed or charred tissue.

Bridgette ‘I can 3D that!’ Katamani

Coming from thousands and thousands of miles away to further my education was as good as it could get, but finding a Professor who challenges you and adds value and experiences to your education is an icing on the cake. My name is Bridgette Ama Katamani am graduate student studying Forensic science with a molecular biology track. My undergraduate studies was in Laboratory Technology at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. I became interested in Forensic Science by all the CSI movies I watched but really because I want to be a pioneer in Forensic Science in my country. I met Dr. Corthals when I took her anthropology class as a choice of an elective. This class natured my interest in anthropology and I decided to join the Corthals lab to do my thesis work. My thesis involves the use of an open source software to construct 3D images from 2D images of bones that we took at the Lab using an iPhone and a camera and also to determine whether we can do an accurate reconstruction of some of the bones we broke into parts. This is to find an easier way to do reconstruction and rendering when we go out onto the field. As the resident animation lady my job is to 3D everyone I see….

Iffah Chowdury

OMG I still need to write my bio...

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Kayla Rooney

My name is Kayla Rooney and I am a student in the forensic science Masters program. I received my Bachelors degree in forensic science with a concentration in molecular biology from John Jay in June 2016. For my graduate studies, I have also chosen the molecular biology track. For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the amount of information that can be obtained from biological samples, which is what made me want to pursue a degree and eventually a career in the sciences. As an undergrad, I was required to complete an internship in order to graduate, and I was lucky enough to be an intern at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Manhattan. This allowed me to really understand the work that I would potentially be able to do when I graduate. The work that is done on a daily basis has the ability to touch the lives of so many people, from identifying suspects to identifying missing persons, and it was truly inspiring. I am very excited to be working on my Masters thesis and being one step closer to working as a forensic biologist. Under the guidance of Dr. Corthals, I will be attempting to find, isolate, and extract DNA from cremated remains to amplify the genome for identification. The profiles obtained from the burned samples will be compared to the profiles from the same samples prior to burning. This will allow me to determine if the DNA obtained from the burned samples is actually the correct, useful profile, or a result from another source. Histological staining will also be performed in order to determine if the burned bones contain DNA and whether or not this has an effect on the profiles obtained.

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Gillian Koegel

I am currently a student in the Forensic Science Masters program. I received my bachelor's degree in Forensic Science in '13 and then spent time as an intern at the NYC-OCME. I worked in Logistics for the Special Operations Division as well as under the Identifications Coordinator in the Fingerprint Unit. In my time at the ME's office, I completed training in Post-Blast Investigations and Medicolegal Death Scene Investigation as well as participating in multi-agency large-scale event training operations. The bulk of my time was spent in the morgue assisting in fingerprint acquisition on advanced decomposition cases throughout the boroughs. My main interest is in fingerprinting for the purposes of unidentified deceased identification and optimizing methods for manual acquisition techniques for use with remains in poor condition. I have a strong belief that the purpose of forensic investigation and analysis is to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves and especially in the case of unidentified deceased, to offer closure to their loved ones. Ultimately, my goal is to serve my community in the best way that I know how: through science.

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