From television dream to real life CSI

Nicole Gardiner is working as a forensic biologist after graduating from Griffith.
Nicole Gardiner is working as a forensic biologist after graduating from Griffith.

When Nicole Gardiner was 10, she would sneak out of her room to watch the criminal forensic television program CSI without her parents knowing.

This sparked a passion for forensics that led her to Griffith University and into her dream job as a forensic biologist with the Northern Territory Police Fire and Emergency Service.

Today Nicole is proud to say she’s almost a real life “crime scene investigator” just like her favourite television program.

Her day-to-day duties working in the Forensic Biology Laboratory include examining crime scene exhibits and processing DNA, but there are more exciting things to come as her career progresses.

“I can be doing anything from screening a crime scene exhibit, or a swab, or a t-shirt through to extracting DNA, quantifying it, amplifying it and putting it through a process of capillary electrophoresis to produce a DNA profile,” she said.

“I guess it is similar to CSI, but in real life it is not as glamorous as it looks on television.”

Nicole, who graduated from a Bachelor of Forensic Science(majoring in Molecular Biology) and Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice in 2013, said Griffith paved the way for her to be a prime candidate in the workforce.

“I 100 per cent believe the course was great and during my interview (with the Northern Territory Police) my boss later told me you could tell my knowledge and academic background had set me up well,” she said.
“Griffith gave me the knowledge and the building blocks and I simply had to learn the specific processes for being in the lab — it was great to not have to start from the ground up.”

Nicole’s advice to anyone looking to study in the field of forensic biology is that you have to be passionate.

“Becoming a forensic biologist was all I ever wanted to do and I was prepared to do anything I could to get there,” she said.
“I took advantage of services that Griffith offered for future employment and went to as many seminars as I could. I was even willing to move to the Northern Territory to gain valuable experience in my chosen field.

“You need to be dedicated and passionate about the industry and helping people because some of the things you come across in this field can be difficulttoobserve, such asthe more serious crimes.”