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ACS AMA: Hi, Reddit! I am Dr. Suzanne Bell, Chair of the Department of Forensic and Investigative Science at West Virginia University. Ask me anything about the chemistry of gunshot residue or educational opportunities in forensic chemistry.
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ACS AMA Hi Reddit! My name is Suzanne Bell, and I am the Chair of the Department of Forensic and Investigative Science at West Virginia University. I teach and conduct research in analytical and forensic chemistry and work with students from undergraduate through PhD. I joined the faculty here in 2003. Prior to then, I worked for the New Mexico State Police Crime Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Eastern Washington University. My PhD is from New Mexico State University. Beyond my faculty work, I served on the National Commission on Forensic Science as Chair of the Research and Scientific Inquiry Subcommittee. I also served as a commissioner on the Forensic Education Programs Accreditation Commission, and am currently an associated editor for chemistry for the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Additionally, I am a member of the ACS Experts program (www.acs.org/expertshttp://www.acs.org/experts). This is my second AMA with the ACS – you can see the previous session here https://redd.it/35pi9d Continuing on with that discussion, there is a lot of chemical analysis that goes into determining what evidence gunshot residue might provide. Some of the methods we use include scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray spectroscopies including energy-dispersive (EDS), and many types of mass spectrometry (MS). Note that in this discussion I am not an expert on tool markings or ballistics (ie physical marks caused by weapons nor trajectory of bullets). Ask me anything about forensic chemistry and how we apply it in shooting cases, or what educational paths are possible in the forensic sciences. I’ll be back at 1 pm EDT (10 am PDT, 5 pm UTC) to answer your questions, ask me anything!