Morristown, N.J. (March 1, 2016) – Grace Bailey is a junior chemistry major from Vernon, N.J. Her goal is to become a forensic scientist, preferably for the FBI. "Or NCIS," she laughs as she references the popular television show. "Abby Scuitto is my inspiration!"
She has combined her interest in law enforcement and her love of science into a passion for forensic research. She also wants to prove that female forensic scientists are not just fictional characters, but real women who are capable of scientific inquiry.
"My brain is wired towards math and science," Grace explains.
She was able to skip pre-calculus in high school and move right into calculus I. Grace is one of the few juniors and one of three CSE students who is presenting original research at the Independent College Fund of New Jersey (ICFNJ) Research Symposium in March, 2016.
An avid soccer player since elementary school, Grace came to CSE because of its strong programming in science, the small class sizes and the athletic opportunities.
"The faculty and coaches are very flexible, although they are demanding," she says.
Immediately after the symposium, she will be on a plane to Myrtle Beach for women's softball spring training. In addition to her research, regular school work, and athletic schedule, she has worked as a tutor, an aide in the labs, for media services and in facilities.
She was approached by Dr. Kimberley Grant, chemistry program chair and professor, to apply for the symposium. In addition to her full load of classes and soccer season, she knew this research would be time consuming. But she thought the opportunity to present would help her gain acceptance into the FBI research internship program for the 2016 summer.
A soccer injury that sidelined her this season gave her the extra time needed for her research. Her project involves biodiesel fuels – to create an efficient and equally combustible fuel from common household oils and determine the most ecologically friendly without losing efficiency. She is the only junior student among the three being sent to the symposium and came highly recommended by Dr. Grant. Her mentor and sponsor is Dr. Peter Dobbelaar, assistant professor of chemistry.
"Grace's research project provides her with the opportunity to conduct advanced experiments and to interpret the results," says Dr. Dobbelaar. "In addition to gaining experience with new lab techniques, Grace is also learning that scientific research can be a lengthy process."
Grace received a grant from ICFNJ to do this research.
"I want to intern next summer in Cincinnati at the FBI Forensics labs," she says. "I think this research symposium will help my internship application get noticed!"