A Microscopist is a forensic scientist who specializes in the analysis of hairs, fibers and debris. Most commonly, a microscopist will examine hairs and fibers to determine their possible origin.
When a hair is examined, the scientist is often asked to answer the following questions:
- Is it human?
- Is it scalp hair or pubic hair?
- What is the race of the individual it originated from?
- If it is not human, what species is it from?
- Was the hair dyed or treated?
- Is genetic material present for DNA testing?
Fibers are also commonly examined, with the goal of answering similar questions:
- What type of fiber is it?
- Is it man made or natural?
- What kind of material is the fiber from? (Carpet, blanket, sweater, etc.)
In addition to hairs and fibers, the microscopist may be asked to examine such things as:
- Building materials
- Safe insulation
- Soil and rock
Microscopy is a very labor intensive and lengthy process. Forensic microscopists must be patient and enjoy looking in a microscope and working with very tiny materials.