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Alumni Talk by Kerstin Gonda

On 7th February we had the pleasure of welcoming Kerstin Gonda as a speaker of the AlumniTalks.

Kerstin Gonda did her master’s degree in Biology at the University of Regensburg and decided against pursuing a PhD. Instead, her studies were followed by a number of fixed contract positions during which, in 1999, she applied to a job advertisement posted in the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper for a position at the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office. Although she was rejected at first, this did not stop her from sending a second, this time unsolicited, application in 2001. Her persistence was successful and Kerstin Gonda could begin her career in criminal investigations, answering biological questions to help the police to fight crimes. Since 2002 she works at the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office, where she was first hired as a consultant and since 2006 is the vice head of the Department of Microtraces / Biology.

Kerstin Gonda’s day to day work consists mostly of case related lab work and meetings about cases as well as answering internal and external enquiries. Her lab work involves incoming requests, analyzing samples and data, writing reports, and communicating with the contracting authorities. Deciding which measurements should be done and how to prioritize them is an important task as time can be a crucial aspect in solving cases and preventing further crime. The diversity of the tasks is immense and makes her work a constant fresh challenge. Administrative tasks are also a part of her job and take up about a third of her time.

Asked if her daily work is anything like one might know it from TV, Kerstin Gonda says she actually does not watch any TV and not even likes crime novels, but is confident that the major discrepancy between fact and fiction is that in reality everything takes more time. She does not solve a case in 90 minutes. This might not surprise anyone knowing about the amount of time sample preparation takes, but what might actually come as a surprise is the fact that her work is clearly separated from investigative work, until in the end, all facts are combined and truth will come out.

We thank Kerstin Gonda very much for her inspiring talk that gave insights into a rather unusual career path with a clear impact on society.

(Anna Fuchs)


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