Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
By Michelle Chavez, Staff Writer
The cold weather in Allentown is not unusual for the region. Coming from California, though, new Forensic Science Professor Elana Conant needed to adjust to the weather.
None the less, Conant is excited to be here at Cedar Crest. Conant has always had shifts in her plan happen. Her willingness to “go with the flow” makes for not only a better class, but a better campus community too.
During her undergraduate study, Conant’s field, forensic science, was not a very popular choice for women to take. Since she was interested in science, she decided to go into the pre-med track.
While interning as a medical examiner, she became interested in the forensics lab work going on next door. As a result, she went back to get her masters in forensics science.
“I really enjoy a dynamic work environment. When looking at the lab next door, I felt that it was really fun and something I would be interested in,” Conant said.
Teaching was not her direct goal after graduating. Instead, a university asked her several times before she agreed to teach a class.
She worked as a crime lab director instead law enforcement where she specialized in analyzing evidence that had been submerged in water.
Her current research delves into this topic and she is hoping to bring in some graduate students from Cedar Crest in her research to get some experience, something that she feels passionately about.
One of the main pulls for Conant was the strong interaction between students and professors, as well as the ability for students to present their findings to practicing practitioners.
Conant said, “Some of the research that students do and present can help professionals in the field to look at their own research differently, or help some with their own real life cases. Overall, it can have a positive effect on the outcome of the field.”
Conant herself was a student who learned best by application and doing, having a strong like of labs and hands-on learning. While an undergraduate, Conant was puzzled by how mass spectrometry worked. In her lecture, she only learned the theory behind it, not any application. Conant decided to go to the professor of the class and ask to see a mass spectrometer perform spectrometry to apply what she learned. When she saw it, everything “clicked” for her.
This experience helped her realize the importance of labs and application learning. “With just a lecture, many students just memorize the information then forget about it after the test. But with labs, they have to apply their knowledge and reinforce what they were learning.”
The ability for students to start working with equipment and techniques, as well as the presentations and networking opportunities are among the best features, in Conant’s eyes, of Cedar Crest. The community that the college has also helps both the professors and the students, making them feel like they have support and help. “At other universities, it’s very isolated. At Cedar Crest, there are ample opportunities to interact with professors.”
As Conant said, “Research doesn’t always go as planned.” The same can be said for life. While Cedar Crest may not have been part of her plan, we are glad she came.