Jakob Bowen – Independent Project

Jakob Bowen – Independent Project

Class of 2017

Introduction to Topic

When one thinks of forensic sciences, they tend to think of DNA analysis, body examinations, etc.  Many times however, the field of drug analysis can go forgotten in this very important branch of biomedical sciences.  The world of drug analysis has so much to offer and yet at the same time, has many aspects that can be improved.  The combination of these two factors made the choice to shadow and base my innovation off of this field a rather easy and obvious decision to make.  In the following report, you will see how I experienced the field of drug analysis and innovated to make it better.

Project Description

Even though my experience went through the entire crime lab at the Baltimore City Police Department, the focus of my project is on the branch of drug analysis.  Even more specifically, the main focus of the project is on the creation and preservation of drug standards.  Drug standards are vials containing very small samples of many different types of drugs that come into the lab.  These standards are used as a way of comparison.  For example, if a sample thought to be cocaine is brought into the lab, they can compare it against a known standard to confirm it is cocaine.  The only problem is that these standards only last one week.  After this window, they must be discarded and a new batch needs to be made.  The process of making a new set of standards can be grueling and takes up to three hours to do.  This is where my project takes shape.  The main goal of my project is to innovate and create a better way to store drug standards so that are able to last past the current one week window.  

Experience Description

As stated before, I shadowed at the Baltimore City Police Department Crime Lab under drug analysis lab supervisor Rachel Lucas.  While my mentor was part of the drug analysis unit, I got to see many different aspects of the entire crime lab.  One very interesting non-drug related experience I had was when a watched a serologist examine evidence that had just come into the lab.  The evidence was clothing from the victim of a non-fatal shooting.  The serologist had to examine every article of clothing to determine whether or not each piece was “wet” (blood  dripping off).  If the evidence was wet, it was labeled and put into a dryer.  An interesting event that occurred during this process was  when she found an empty pack of gum in the pocket of the victim’s shorts.  I asked if she was able to just throw it away.  She told me that even empty, it still had to be submitted  to evidence control.  At the end, I was informed that could not enter many of the rooms they have without swabbing my cheeks or else  my DNA might be found and accidentally used in a criminal investigation.  Another experience that I found memorable was the labelling of the drug standards.  For three hours, myself and my mentor sat at a lab table and labelled over 150 vials of drug standards to be prepared for storing.  This was by far the most boring part of my entire shadowing experience, but it was also the catalyst in helping me determine what I wanted to do for my innovation.  That day I experienced so many inefficiencies and complaints from my mentor that it became blatantly obvious that this should be the main focus of my project.  Going back to more interesting experiences, I also got to see how different powder substances can be analyzed and sorted into different drug groups.  There are many different drugs that are white and powdery, like cocaine.  Obviously it is not easy to tell what it is just by looking at it.  What I was shown though is that when cobalt cyanide is dropped on cocaine, it will turn a light blue color.  By dropping this on the white, powdery substance, it can be determined what kind of drug it is based on one; whether it changes color; and two; what color it changes to.

Innovation Description

My innovation,  as stated before, deals with the storage of drug standards.  During my experience, the main complaint that I heard from my mentor was that the drug standards did not last long enough.  The window for standards is one week, meaning that every single week, the crime lab has to repeat the same process over and over again.  One thing that I noticed throughout my experience was that all of the drug standards were being stored in the same refrigerator.  I thought this to be rather inefficient as different categories of drugs have different preservation needs.  The fridge also looked like one that a family might keep in their garage, not in the crime lab of the Baltimore City Police Department.  My idea is to innovate upon the current storage system that is in place.  This is shown through the sketchup models that I created.  My innovation is a multi-layered storage unit that is effective and at the same time, sleek.  The unit contains four individual “shelves,” each with its own temperature regulator.  This is so each category of drug standard (opioids, stimulants, depressants, etc.) can be stored in the ideal temperature and conditions.  This, in turn, will allow for a longer window of time that the drug standards can be used for comparison.  The design of my innovation is also more professional looking and fits in better with all of the other advanced equipment in the lab.  The glass shelving and black exterior surrounding the glass is sleek and appealing.  The main purpose of this innovation is to decrease the amount of times that drug analysts have to go through the grueling process of creating new sets of drug standards.  If this product can take the amount of times a new set needs to be made from once a week to once every three months, hours upon hours are saved for these scientists that could be spent performing other functions that are necessary to what they are trying to accomplish.  Along with the sketchup of my innovation, I have created a website to promote my innovation as a product of a company.  My “company’s” name is Forensics Tech and the main product (my innovation) is called the Drug Lock.  For a quick walkthrough of my website, the home page is simple, showcasing the company logo along with an image of a forensic scientist in the background.  The About Us page shows some basic information about the company: US based, experience with the police, and a technological drive.  The Our Work page is where the description of the Drug Lock is.  This page serves the same purpose as the first part of this section.  The Our Goal page is where I talk about how the company aims to aid the lives and occupations of forensic scientists, mainly in the field of drug analysis.  I talk about the overall vision of the company and how it helps the world of biomedical sciences.  The Find Us page is where visitors of the website can send an email to the working official company email address of Forensics Tech if they have any questions or concerns about the company or the Drug Lock.  At the bottom of each page are picture links to the social media pages of Forensics Tech on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  The main goal of the website is to expand upon the ideas of the actual innovation and add something more to it.

+ Project Topic

Introduction to Topic

When one thinks of forensic sciences, they tend to think of DNA analysis, body examinations, etc.  Many times however, the field of drug analysis can go forgotten in this very important branch of biomedical sciences.  The world of drug analysis has so much to offer and yet at the same time, has many aspects that can be improved.  The combination of these two factors made the choice to shadow and base my innovation off of this field a rather easy and obvious decision to make.  In the following report, you will see how I experienced the field of drug analysis and innovated to make it better.

+ Project Overview

Project Description

Even though my experience went through the entire crime lab at the Baltimore City Police Department, the focus of my project is on the branch of drug analysis.  Even more specifically, the main focus of the project is on the creation and preservation of drug standards.  Drug standards are vials containing very small samples of many different types of drugs that come into the lab.  These standards are used as a way of comparison.  For example, if a sample thought to be cocaine is brought into the lab, they can compare it against a known standard to confirm it is cocaine.  The only problem is that these standards only last one week.  After this window, they must be discarded and a new batch needs to be made.  The process of making a new set of standards can be grueling and takes up to three hours to do.  This is where my project takes shape.  The main goal of my project is to innovate and create a better way to store drug standards so that are able to last past the current one week window.  

+ Experience

Experience Description

As stated before, I shadowed at the Baltimore City Police Department Crime Lab under drug analysis lab supervisor Rachel Lucas.  While my mentor was part of the drug analysis unit, I got to see many different aspects of the entire crime lab.  One very interesting non-drug related experience I had was when a watched a serologist examine evidence that had just come into the lab.  The evidence was clothing from the victim of a non-fatal shooting.  The serologist had to examine every article of clothing to determine whether or not each piece was “wet” (blood  dripping off).  If the evidence was wet, it was labeled and put into a dryer.  An interesting event that occurred during this process was  when she found an empty pack of gum in the pocket of the victim’s shorts.  I asked if she was able to just throw it away.  She told me that even empty, it still had to be submitted  to evidence control.  At the end, I was informed that could not enter many of the rooms they have without swabbing my cheeks or else  my DNA might be found and accidentally used in a criminal investigation.  Another experience that I found memorable was the labelling of the drug standards.  For three hours, myself and my mentor sat at a lab table and labelled over 150 vials of drug standards to be prepared for storing.  This was by far the most boring part of my entire shadowing experience, but it was also the catalyst in helping me determine what I wanted to do for my innovation.  That day I experienced so many inefficiencies and complaints from my mentor that it became blatantly obvious that this should be the main focus of my project.  Going back to more interesting experiences, I also got to see how different powder substances can be analyzed and sorted into different drug groups.  There are many different drugs that are white and powdery, like cocaine.  Obviously it is not easy to tell what it is just by looking at it.  What I was shown though is that when cobalt cyanide is dropped on cocaine, it will turn a light blue color.  By dropping this on the white, powdery substance, it can be determined what kind of drug it is based on one; whether it changes color; and two; what color it changes to.

+ Innovation

Innovation Description

My innovation,  as stated before, deals with the storage of drug standards.  During my experience, the main complaint that I heard from my mentor was that the drug standards did not last long enough.  The window for standards is one week, meaning that every single week, the crime lab has to repeat the same process over and over again.  One thing that I noticed throughout my experience was that all of the drug standards were being stored in the same refrigerator.  I thought this to be rather inefficient as different categories of drugs have different preservation needs.  The fridge also looked like one that a family might keep in their garage, not in the crime lab of the Baltimore City Police Department.  My idea is to innovate upon the current storage system that is in place.  This is shown through the sketchup models that I created.  My innovation is a multi-layered storage unit that is effective and at the same time, sleek.  The unit contains four individual “shelves,” each with its own temperature regulator.  This is so each category of drug standard (opioids, stimulants, depressants, etc.) can be stored in the ideal temperature and conditions.  This, in turn, will allow for a longer window of time that the drug standards can be used for comparison.  The design of my innovation is also more professional looking and fits in better with all of the other advanced equipment in the lab.  The glass shelving and black exterior surrounding the glass is sleek and appealing.  The main purpose of this innovation is to decrease the amount of times that drug analysts have to go through the grueling process of creating new sets of drug standards.  If this product can take the amount of times a new set needs to be made from once a week to once every three months, hours upon hours are saved for these scientists that could be spent performing other functions that are necessary to what they are trying to accomplish.  Along with the sketchup of my innovation, I have created a website to promote my innovation as a product of a company.  My “company’s” name is Forensics Tech and the main product (my innovation) is called the Drug Lock.  For a quick walkthrough of my website, the home page is simple, showcasing the company logo along with an image of a forensic scientist in the background.  The About Us page shows some basic information about the company: US based, experience with the police, and a technological drive.  The Our Work page is where the description of the Drug Lock is.  This page serves the same purpose as the first part of this section.  The Our Goal page is where I talk about how the company aims to aid the lives and occupations of forensic scientists, mainly in the field of drug analysis.  I talk about the overall vision of the company and how it helps the world of biomedical sciences.  The Find Us page is where visitors of the website can send an email to the working official company email address of Forensics Tech if they have any questions or concerns about the company or the Drug Lock.  At the bottom of each page are picture links to the social media pages of Forensics Tech on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  The main goal of the website is to expand upon the ideas of the actual innovation and add something more to it.

By | 2017-05-15T12:47:24+00:00 May 15th, 2017|Biomed Capstone Project 2017|0 Comments

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