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Biology Alumna Works Her Own CSI Episodes

Christine KonecnyWith so many TV blockbusters on criminal justice, people are fascinated by what Christine Konecny does, however, the real life forensic scientist is quick to clarify that, unlike the Hollywood dramas, she neither wears high heels to work nor packs heat. What the 2005 UST biology graduate does is identify DNA profiles and help solve crimes.

But how did a St. Thomas student aiming to be a classroom teacher chart a path that led to her current position in the high-tech Houston Police Department Crime Lab?

“It started at UST after I took a biology course and discovered I enjoyed research and was good at it,” Konecny said.

Her participation in UST’s annual Research Symposium and a subsequent opportunity to attend a professional conference with mentor Dr. Rosemarie Rosell, professor of biology, helped land her first job as a research technician at Baylor College of Medicine.

Christine Konecny“I performed tests for some of Baylor’s research into blood vessel development,” Konecny said.

Then in 2009, she made the move to HPD’s crime lab and never looked back.

“The impact of research can take years, but at the crime lab I get a sense of completion with each case,” Konecny said. “I work on a case and I can see it through to the end.”

Initially a screener who worked with evidence, made observations, and ran tests on bodily fluids, she has moved into DNA analysis.

“A sample comes to me so I can extract the DNA, purify it and develop a DNA profile which may be compared with a person of interest,” Konecny said. “It’s like solving a puzzle. Every day is different. And there is never a dull moment.”

Reflecting on her UST roots, the young criminalist cites academic excellence.

“I got a very good education at UST,” she said. “I liked the small size of the school because it meant I got more attention from professors, and teachers were very invested in their students succeeding. That it is a Catholic university was important to me. And let’s not forget my being able to participate in research, which was a big help.”

2013 marks the 20th anniversary of UST’s annual Research Symposium promoting undergraduate and graduate research.