Before we learn more about the most famous female forensic scientists it will be beneficial to gain a quick insight into the field and why it draws so many women.
A brief look at Forensic Science
Forensic Science is: when science is used in a functional manner to matters that pertain to the law. Criminal law and forensic science can help prove the guilt or the innocence of a defendant.
In civil actions, forensics can help with a broad spectrum such as identification, analysis, and evaluation of physical evidence. Forensic science draws upon a variety of scientific principals including biology, physics, and chemistry.
In the forensic field, woman dominates with 78% in forensic programs undergraduate and graduate. According to sources, the reasons behind women dominating the field is because of the:
CSI Effect: It is because of the effect television show with more female leads especially in the medical or lab positions that draw more women into this field.
It is better suited to women’s needs as women are more detailed orientated and other skills they have to make them really good at forensic work.
Family Reason: There are stable working hours in the forensic field which works better when you have a family.
Women prefer working with living and organic things because they want to help people.
Most women who chose this field want to improve society.
1. Doctor Sara Bisel
She is a true pioneer in forensic anthropology. She uses chemical and physical probes and was the first to uncover the skeletons found in the ancient Rome city, Herculaneum. The city was buried in molten lava, after a volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. Sara’s tools are the foundation of the chemical analysis on skeleton remains and the study and health of the ancient people.
2. Clea Koff
Clea is seen as the world’s real-life bones. She is a forensic anthropologist and worked for the United Nations Criminal Tribune for Rwanda which brought genocide culprits to trial. Clea helped to identify remains of the victims of the 1995 genocide in Bosnia and worked in Croatia amongst the dead.
She also founded the Missing Persons Identifications Resource Centre, to help families connect to the US Coroner offices to identify bodies. Visit her website here.
3. Doctor Marcella Farinelli Fierro
She is best known as “Kay Scarpetta”, which is a fictional character in the crime novels by Patricia Cornwell and also advised Patricia on her books. Marcella is the former Chief Medical Examiner of the Commonwealth of Virginia who oversaw violent, suspicious and unnatural deaths. She teaches forensic pathology and is a consultant for the FIB on the National Crime Centre.
4. Doctor Porntip Rojanasunan
She is a Thai forensic pathologist and is known as Dr. Death. Porntip. She is an author, a human rights activist and a cancer survivor. She is the Director of the Central Institute of Forensic Science, Ministry of Justice in Bangkok and introduces DNA evidence to Thailand and altered how they did autopsies. Porntip took charge of identifying victims of a tsunami in Phang Nga.
5. Kathy Reichs
She is a forensic anthropologist and a professor at The University of North Carolina. Kathy is the inspiration behind the television series Bones and is known in the literary world for her bestselling thrillers. She divides her time by writing, being a consultant, a professor and is a frequent witness in criminal trials.
6. Margaret Bull Kovera
Margaret has a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Minnesota and has received funding from the National Science Foundation for her studies on eyewitness identification, scientific evidence collection and jury decision making.
Her research has been published in journals and magazines in the field of psychology and she has received the Saleem Shah Award for Achievement in Psychology and Law. She is part of the Association for Psychological Science and acts as a consultant on high profile cases and an expert witness on eyewitness identification.
7. Katherine Ramsland
Katherine is a forensic psychology professor and a non-fiction true crime author. She has a degree in forensic psychology, clinical psychology, criminal justice and a doctorate in philosophy from Rutgers University.
Katherine has published 1000 articles and has authored and co-authored 47 books on forensic science, crime and the supernatural. She is the lead researcher in clinical vampirism and in the study of John Brennan Crutchley, known as the Florida Vampire Rapist.
8. Corine de Ruiter
Corine is a professor in forensic psychology at Maastricht University and a consultant for the criminal justice agencies. She is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Netherland and her research focus on the relationship between violence and mental disorders and the risk for future violence. Up until 2014 she was the Associate Editor of the International Journal of Forensic Mental Health and serve as the President of the International Association of Forensic Mental Health. Corine has published journal articles and numerous books about forensic psychology.
9. Doctor Casey Jordan
Casey is seen as a celebrity criminologist with one thousand televisions spots with major networks. She is an expert on violent crime and a behavior analyst for the private sector.
Casey is a professor at the State University of Western Connecticut and a private practice attorney. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and training seminars and consults the FBI on child abuse and family violence cases. Casey has authored many books and is seen as an expert in the field of forensic psychology.
10. Patricia Zapf
Patricia is the author of 8 books, manuals, 80 journal articles and research surrounding the assessment of criminal competencies. Her manual, Suicide Assessment Manual for Inmates is used internationally in prison systems and the forensic psychology field. Patricia is a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the Department of Psychology, she also consults with various criminal justice departments in New York. She has a private practice that assesses forensics and criminology.
11. Cathy Widom
Cathy is a professor in Psychology at John Jay College and of the American Psychological Association and American Society of Criminology. She is a national consultant in psychology and criminology and sits on panels from congressional to state. Cathy is also an expert witness in child abuse and neglect and has won the American Association for the Advancement of Behavioural Research prize.
12. Julie Christiansen
Julie is a speaker and trainer known as “The Anger Lady”. She is the spokesperson of psychology due to her research in anger solutions. Julie has an active online community and offers presentations and workshops in the corporate and private sector. She consults on high profile criminal cases because of her understanding of anger and stress-related violence. In Niagara, she has a psychotherapy practice.
13. Valerie Jenness
Valerie is the Dean of the Social Ecology School and professor for the Department of Criminology at the University of California. Her research is on hate crime, prison violence, and prostitution. Valerie has authored 4 books and serves as an expert witness in civil litigation. She has been honored by the American Sociological Association and the Western Society of Criminology, her research is global and is translated and reprinted into 5 languages.
14. Sevil Atasoy
Sevil has a BA in Science in Chemistry, Masters in Science in Biochemistry, Doctored in Philosophy and Ph.D. in Biochemistry. She is an international leader in the field of Forensic Science, substance abuse and addiction. Sevil is the director of the Innocence Project in Turkey, the Vice Rector at the Uskudar University in Istanbul and the Dean of Social Science and Crime Prevention Centre. She is a member of the Inter-ministerial Commission for Drug Prevention and has a television show on a Turkey network about criminalists as they use physical evidence to solve crimes.
15. Julissa Villanueva
Julissa is a doctor in Pathology and she is the Director of the Honduran Public Prosecutor’s Office in the Department of Forensic Medicine.
She protects women and children from violent crimes in Honduras and works with Spain in developing a program called DNA Prokids. Julissa has driven more work to use DNA to identify migrant bodies and introduces a computerized database to store information in the morgue.
She created the first humanitarian cemetery in Honduras and developed a Nationwide Human Identification Registry for unsolved murders across the country. Julissa also introduced the Gesell chambers. It allows sexual or abuse victims to testify in court without revealing their identity. In 2018 she received the International Women of Courage Award from the United States Department of State; she was awarded the honor by Melanie Trump.
16. Doctor Angela Gallop
Angela is a forensic scientist and some of her notable work was on the Stephen Lawrence case. Stephen was a black British teenager who was murdered in a racially motivated attack. The case made headlines as it changes culture attitudes on racism and police practice. It led to the partial revocation of the rule against double jeopardy. She was also able to show Robert Calvi who was found hanging from a bridge in London 1981 was murdered and did not commit suicide.
Angela set up Forensic Access in 1986 to ensure defense lawyers had access to the same skills and expertise as the prosecution. She is the president of Axiom International and former president of the Forensic Science Society. In 2015 she received an honored CBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire)
17. Turi King
Turi is a Canadian–British professor of public engagement and Reader in Genetics and Archaeology at the University of Leicester. She has a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology, a Masters in Molecular Genetics and a Doctoral in Migration patterns in Genetics specializing on the relationship between British surnames and Y chromosomal holotypes. Turi’s research was around forensics, genetic genealogy, Ancient DNA and mitochondrial DNA.
It was because of her background and her research that she has cracked one of the biggest forensic DNA cases in history. She led the genetic analyses during the exhumation and reburial of Richard III of England. In 2016 she was appointed honorary of the British Science Association and in 2018 she was awarded J.B.S Haldene prize of The Genetic Society.
18. Kari Bruwelheide
Kari is an American archaeologist and anthropologist and is known for her work as a physical anthropologist and forensic anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of Natural History.
She works in the physical anthropologist division identifying skeletal remains and determining the cause of death. Kari has a BA, Double majoring in English and Anthropology and a Masters of Arts in Physical Anthropology.
Her cases include studying the remains of three people that were discovered at Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, during the survey at the foundation of the 17th century Brick Chapel Catholic Church. Identifying the remains of the victims at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. Examining and excavating remains in the historic Jamestown Colony and assisting in identifying of American Civil War soldiers who died on the H.L Huntley Confederate submarine.
19. Kiana Nurideen
Kiana is a Senior Forensics Chemist at the Department of Justice, she has analyzed thousands of exhibits for the presence of controlled substances. She is an expert witness in court and provides training in narcotic-related subjects to federal, state and local law departments.
Kiana is frequently a guest speaker at schools, universities, and conferences in the areas of forensic science and law enforcement. She has a BA in Science and Chemistry and is a member of the New Jersey Association of Forensic Chemist.
20. Ja’Neisha Hutley
Ja’Neisha is a forensic scientist for the City of Philadelphia and has a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and a Master’s of Science in Forensic Medicine.
In 2009 she received a plaque from the Upper Darby Township Police Department for her involvement in a high profile homicide case that has been solved. She analyzed evidence submitted for crimes involving injury to victims or damage to property for presentation for court. These crimes include sexual assault, homicide, burglary, and aggravated assault. Ja’Neisha performs several chemical testing for detection of biological fluids such as blood, semen, and saliva. She also conducts testing for gunshot residue and analyses cases for arson.
21. Kimberlee Sue Moran
Kimberlee is a forensic consultant in the US and UK and does training workshops for local law enforcement that includes blowing up transit buses and digging up dead animals. Her doctoral research was about ancient fingerprints and her current research is in taphonomy which is the process of decomposition. She is a member of the Society of American Archaeology, the UK Fingerprint Society, the Association or Women in Forensic Science and Forensic Archaeology Recovery. Kimberlee is also the director of Forensics at Rutgers- Camden. She has an undergraduate degree in archaeology and a Master’s of Science in forensic archaeological science from the Institute of Archaeology University College London.
22. Doctor Jan C. Garavaglia
Jan is the chief medical examiner for the District Nine Office in Florida and is better known as Doctor G on her own television program where she shares cutting-edge forensics.
She testified in the world renown case of Casey Anthony and on the 14th of October 2008 she released a book called How not to die: “Surprising Lessons on Living Longer, Safer and Healthier” In her book she shares over 20 years of experience in the field as a medical examiner.
Jan has a medical degree from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, internship and residency in anatomic/clinical pathology and a fellowship in Forensic Pathology.
23. Sheila Lowe
Sheila has 30 years of experience as testifying forensic handwriting examiner and is the author of the internationally acclaimed The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis, Handwriting of the Famous& Infamous and The Forensic Handwriting Mysteries series. She has written stories for the Bar Association magazines and serves on the board of SAFE as Ethics Chair.