Airdate: Jan 20, 2010
Scientist: Mo Lupia
Kids' Science Challenge: Forensics - Public Sentinel
Investigating death may very well protect the health of others.
JM: Forensic investigators don't just gather evidence and help solve crimes. They're on the front lines of a system that guards our health and welfare. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Mo Lupia is an investigator at the Wallie Howard Jr. Center For Forensic Science in Syracuse, NY. While a career that often focuses on death may seem morbid, the data that examiners like Mo Lupia are collecting every day, could one day help save your life.
ML: It's not just homicides and car accidents. We're very much a part of the public health system. We're living in a time where there's terrorism. We're living in a time where there's the possibility of pandemics. We will, in all likelihood, along with law enforcement and people in emergency medical services, be some of the first people the sentinels that will be exposed to or discover a new pandemic or a terrorist event, so we're very vigilant about this. We're constantly training to look for this type of thing.
JM: Infectious disease is always a matter of concern. But when it results in someone's death, a medical examiner's evaluation is crucial to the well-being of the deceased's friends, colleagues, or fellow students.
ML: If someone dies as the result of a contagious disease-if a child dies in daycare, we attempt, very rapidly, to determine what caused that child's death and to determine whether or not that death may be a danger to other children in that daycare center.
JM: Mo Lupia is one of the participants in this year's Kids' Science Challenge, our free nationwide competition for 3rd to 6th graders, made possible by the National Science Foundation. Can you think up a mystery that our investigators could solve? Log on to kidsciencechallenge.com to learn more about forensic science and enter the Kids' Science Challenge.