In 2006, shortly after Beth (Potter) Reagan earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a concentration in Forensic Science, she became a forensic scientist in the N.C. State Crime Lab in Asheville. She has been with that employer ever since.
“I can’t say enough good things about my experiences at Appalachian,” she said. “I loved it there. I thought I was very well-prepared for my career field.”
Reagan said she benefited from lots of hands-on experience in labs at Appalachian, where she also did research on the antioxidants in wine and studied bones and skulls as part of a “really cool” course on forensics anthropology.
Reagan received modest amounts of scholarship aid that defrayed some expenses. She said she chose Appalachian because at the time of her studies there, it was the one public university in the state that offered a chemistry-major concentration in forensics, now a very popular field thanks to the television show “CSI.”
Reagan’s chemistry degree program included a minor in criminal justice. Both disciplines provided practical training for a specialty that has made her an expert witness on drugs. Before she testifies, she determines whether substances seized at a crime scene can be used as evidence. Is that really cocaine or just a bag of flour?
“There’s a major criminal justice side of it,” Reagan said of her career. “I do go to court. I do testify. I have to know the laws. But my day-in-and-day-out job is chemistry. That’s the basis for forensic science. Without the chemistry behind it, it’s bogus.”