ISU Headlines

Forensic scientist to keynote Women and Work Conference

Posted February 27, 2009

The ninth annual Idaho State University Women and Work Conference is scheduled for Wednesday, March 11, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Pond Student Union on the ISU Pocatello campus. The purpose of the conference is to introduce women to opportunities in trades and technology careers, especially those in nontraditional occupations.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Shannon Larson, a forensic scientist with the Idaho State Police R5 Forensic Laboratory. Originally from Wyoming, she received her bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Idaho State University in 2002.  She previously worked as an EMT for 11 years, which led to her position as Deputy County Coroner in Lincoln County, Wyo. She then went to college at ISU, during which time she did an internship with her current employer that lead to being hired soon after graduation.Larson was promoted to ISPFL Lab Manager in 2007, overseeing the work of five Forensic Scientists and two Forensic Evidence Specialists, while still performing forensic toxicologist duties.

About her job, she says she likes best “starting with a story and being able to solve the unanswered questions by the end of the day,” and derives a great sense of personal satisfaction from bringing justice to both the innocent and guilty.  She encourages interested women to take science courses and to learn more about the field of Forensic Science, but cautions that it is not always as exciting as it appears on popular television programs like CSI.  Being a Forensic Scientist often involves more lab and paper work than attending daily crime scenes and often involves long working hours at various times of day.

Shannon has been a popular workshop presenter at the Women & Work Conference for many years.  She is a single mother of three daughters, who says divorce was motivation to get an education and a higher-paying career to support herself and her family. She credits both ISU and the Idaho State Department of Health and Welfare, in helping her reach her educational and career goals.

The Women & Work Conference is an opportunity to gain information through a variety of workshops, speakers, networking and exposure to local training and educational resources.  Attendees will have the opportunity to choose from various workshop topics, including a women in science panel, financial literacy, how to get into college, self-promotion, virtues in school and the workplace, journal making and creative self-expression, and a panel of tradesmen discussing their trades and opportunities for women. The conference also features hands-on career exploration and demonstrations.

The fee to attend the Conference is $20 for the general public and $9.50 for students and includes lunch, snacks, and door prizes.  Major sponsors this year include U.S. Bank, Partners for Prosperity, the ISU Janet C. Anderson Gender Resource Center and Women’s History Month, the Region V Idaho Department of Labor, and local trade unions.<>

The Conference is sponsored by the ISU College of Technology Center for New Directions, which provides career and personal/mental health counseling primarily to College of Technology students and community members with a career or education-related concern.  The Center also provides support services for College of Technology students enrolled in a program nontraditional for their gender and for single parents.  For information about the Center or the Conference, please call 282-2454 or visit the Web site at www.isu.edu/cnd to register by March 6.