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Forensic Science
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Nick Laan, PhD Student - Impact of Blood Droplets at UvA

Before starting the Forensic Science programme, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics. When I saw that there was a master in Forensic Science, I just knew I wanted to do that. It is an appealing field of work and not so abstract. For me the master’s programme became really challenging when I started the research project.


It actually combined real hard-core physics with forensics. I investigated whether the volume of bloodstains could be measured by means of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). The project was a collaboration between the NFI Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) and the Amsterdam Medical Centre (AMC). It was a success and this opened up a large range of applications we could investigate. Moreover, we have a publication about this project in press right now.

Eventually, this project led to my PhD. A PhD is a lot of fun, but it also requires hard work and discipline. Only a small portion of my time I spend in the lab doing actual experiments with blood droplets. But I also get to travel. I am not sure yet what I will be doing after this, but I got a range of options. I could start working at a company, find a job in a bank or work as a consultant, as they often like the skills we have learned during physics and having a PhD won’t hurt. I could also try finding a Post Doc position somewhere, thus staying in academia for a while.

Preparing for a career after this master can be really difficult. Many people start this master with a biological background and get stuck because there are no job opportunities. One solution can be to find a good internship, which can often lead towards a job. My advice:

  • Take a risk. So go for the exciting internship, even if there is the risk it won’t work out. 
  • Connect with people. This is great for learning which forensic institutions there are.
  • Work hard and learn a lot. Show people you are able to learn a lot. 
  • Learn how to program. One of the best skills you can ever have, as well as in science as in business.