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Paige McElhinney

Forensic scientist

Paige McElhinney - Forensic Scientist

Paige McElhinney uses STEM skills on the daily to help solve crimes!

A careers computer program once told Paige to become a forensic scientist… So she did! “I entered ‘science’ and ‘outdoors’ [as my interests] and it gave me the option of forensic scientist,” she explains. “From that moment I was committed and never had a thought that I would do anything else.”

Paige then went on to study a BTech (Biomedical Science) at the University of Auckland and scored her dream job as a Forensic Senior Technician at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) after graduating and was promoted to Forensic Senior Scientist a few years later.

During her career Paige has been involved in thousands of criminal investigations including as the lead scientist in 25 homicide investigations while at ESR. “In my first week ever on call, I was involved in the scene examinations relating to the murder of hitchhiker Jennifer Hargreaves as well as the triple murder and assault which occurred at the Mt Wellington-Panmure RSA,” she says. “That was definitely an intense introduction to my career choice!”

As for other memorable moments on the job, Paige says crawling under a bush to collect maggots from an eye socket and pulling out an eyeball instead is definitely up there!

Now in her role as a forensic science consultant and director of The Forensic Group, Paige uses the skills she gained as a forensic scientist and crime scene examiner to review scientific results in criminal cases. 

As for the tech in forensic science? There’s plenty! Paige says specialists use laser scanning of crime scenes to capture and record detail, high speed photography to study blood stain pattern creation, alternate light sources to visualise body fluids, DNA sequencer for DNA profiling, and gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify different substances.

Her advice for those considering STEM is to study what interests you. “If you find it interesting, it becomes easy to learn. Your career will fall into place after that.”

Paige’s study and career path to becoming a forensic scientist

  • BTech (Biomedical Science), University of Auckland
  • Forensic senior technician, ESR
  • Forensic senior scientist, ESR
  • Forensic science consultant, The Forensic Group
  • Forensic science consultant and director, The Forensic Group

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