A scientist on campus


Photo courtesy of Crystal Cooper

Cooper prepares a solution in order to identify the chemical structure of the evidence.

Dreams do come true, as shown by chemistry teacher, Crystal Cooper.

Cooper has not only fulfilled her dream of becoming a teacher, but also her dream of becoming a forensic scientist.

“[Forensic chemistry] was one of my dream jobs,” Cooper said. “I would still consider it my dream job. I [also] love teaching, so they are even right now.”

Cooper started out her journey as a forensic scientist by working as an intern at the Department of Justice during her junior year of college. She continued this experience for the next four years.

She was greatly inspired by the fact that her elder brother is a police officer, which encouraged her to explore the world of forensics.

“I was really interested in the police aspect, but I am a real science person, so I wanted to turn it into my own thing,” Cooper said. “I’m really into chemistry, so I enjoyed dissolving [evidence], analyzing the DNA and breaking it down,”

Every summer, she continues her career by completing two assigned cases to keep her credentials active.

“My first experience was really rough,” Cooper said. “I was a junior [in] college, and my first rotation happened to be a crime scene at 2:15 in the morning on the day of my final.”

After collecting her evidence, she luckily reached school 10 minutes before the start of her final.

When she was an intern, she worked at night and attended college during the day.

“Because I was so young, I chose the night shift, so I worked from 6:30 at night to 8 in the morning.” Cooper said.  “It was very solitary, but that’s when most of the crimes occur.”

Cooper describes forensics as solving a new puzzle every day as all deaths happen in a different way.

“What I liked the most is getting a little bit of all the cases, a little bit of ballistics, a little bit of this, a little bit of that. I don’t like being  stuck in one area for too long,” Cooper added.

She also tries to bring her forensic work into her classroom by conducting various chemical experiments and sharing her experiences with students.

“I personally think its an interesting job, and would like to hear more about it from her,” Tynesha Pham, a student of Cooper said.

Cooper encourages students to discover more opportunities and chase their dreams as well.

“She is an excellent teacher who is passionate about her subject and very involved with students even outside of class,” Honors and AP Chemistry teacher Michael Antrim said.