Australian graduate views drugs and crime from safety of laboratory

CQU graduate and former Rockhampton resident Andrew Stewart is now enjoying a career in Brisbane, Australia as a forensic chemist with the State Government Pathology and Scientific Services.

Most of his work involves analysis of illicit drugs and the laboratory plays a major role in the investigation of clandestine laboratories.

However, the laboratory also conducts physical evidence examination in areas including post-blast explosive analysis, soil profiling, fibre analysis and comparison, polymer analysis, hydrocarbon profiling and poisons analysis.

It also looks at the cause of fibre failure; for example when webbing belts or straps fail.

"My job is to analyse items brought in by the police as part of their investigation with the aim to prove whether or not the exhibits are illegal as stated under the drugs misuse act," he said.

"Also, the physical evidence section looks at evidence found at crime scenes and compares it with evidence obtained from a suspect to assist with proving arson, tampering etc or to place the accused at a crime scene." Mr Stewart said CQU Rockhampton provided a fun learning environment and that the "excellent lecturers seem keen to pass on their knowledge".

"CQU gave me a good grounding in chemistry, both in theory and practically, which allowed me to be flexible in my career choice." The graduate recently returned to CQU to help give local high school science teachers an update on forensic laboratory techniques.

He said he would like to become a senior analyst and possibly manage a chemical laboratory later in his career.

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