This piece of writing has been in ‘struggle to completion mode’ for quite a while now.
I wanted to publish it on a Monday morning, in sort of a rant about the never-ending Sunday night train rides from London to Leicester after a five-hour flight back from Christmas holidays in Beirut. I had imagined it to be a serious revival from the ashes type of blog: “Dear year 2017, you lock me in planes and trains, shoot short deadlines at me; but here I am guards up, moving swiftly, and ready for your punches.”
The thing is that I see it as less of a fight for the moment. The words I hear today are: “step down from the ring, go back to the gym and sharpen your saw”. Every now and then, the fundamentals need to be re-visited and now could be the best time. Starting with my first exposure to DNA “fingerprinting” at the American University of Beirut until my ongoing third year of PhD in Forensic Genomics at the University of Leicester, life has been happening – and if I think about it… Man what a ride! I almost got knocked out by the politically oriented VBIEDs in 2005 and the indiscriminate bombing from the skies in 2006; but I stood back up in the best way possible. Today I stand with a BSc in Biology, two MScs in Forensic Science, and hopefully soon a PhD in Forensic Genomics.
I trained with the Scientific and Technical Brigade of Geneva’s judicial police and was deployed on actual crime scenes, roaming freely in the city blue lights on. I learned how they operate in the field as well as in their labs. I also collaborated with Colorado’s police bomb squad as we performed together experiments aimed at exploring the preservation of biological evidence after explosions. I had a (few) blast(s) with you guys! Back in Lebanon after my MSc, I taught a forensic archaeology course at the American University of Beirut and mainly two other courses (human identification and introduction to forensic science) at the American University of Science and Technology. There is no better feeling than the interaction with dedicated (and some less dedicated) students. It was also a time when I initiated contact with the Lebanese Internal Security forces (police of Lebanon) and despite the many difficulties and systemic obstacles there, I was positively surprised by some highly skilled and professional individuals – thank you for being so naturally devoted to your job.
In addition to the crime scene/laboratory forensic science work and research, I have spent time learning how to exhume human remains from ancient burial sites with the aim of identifying the individuals as well as estimating their time and cause of death. I look forward to applying this part of my work to international human rights cases. Finally, the training and collaborations that I am benefiting from through the ongoing INTREPID forensics program is not describable in one text. I will therefore dedicate some of the future posts to talk about the extra-PhD project activities that we are covering through the European Commission’s Innovative Training Networks.
Today, I stand strong as my interests are expanding.
Ok! Time to take a break from the narcissistic ‘cover letter’-type burst of words. The aim of this first blog in 2017 was to create a safe space to self-reflect and be at peace with the challenges to come. If any of the readers are interested in a specific subject to be covered in my blog, please do come forward with your idea.
See you in the next post folks!