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Hannah Burns:An Internship with San Antonio Police Department, Forensic Science, & Cannabis Research

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Author: Hannah Burns | Category: Final Words... | May 01, 2015

Congratulations Hannah Burns, the newest graduate from the Forensic Toxicology program, for successfully defending your dissertation on the "An Intoxication Level System for Cannabis Use."

Please tell me about yourself, why did you pick UT Health Science Center, and your program.

I obtained a B.S. in Biology from the University of Alaska - Fairbanks in 2009. I knew I wanted to continue my education and so I started looking into graduate school. I took a forensics course in high school, and have been interested in forensic science ever since. I found the Forensic Toxicology Master's program at UTHSCSA and knew immediately that I wanted to apply.

Please provide a few sentences summarizing your dissertation. What was the experience like for you?

My dissertation was a detailed literature review that investigated cannabis impairment in drivers and alternative methods of determining tetrahydrocannabinol levels in the blood. The experience was like nothing I have ever been through. It was challenging yet rewarding. I am very proud of what I have accomplished and wouldn't trade my experience for anything.

Why are you passionate about your research topic? How did you first become interested in it?

I grew up in North Pole, Alaska, and the state just legalized the recreational use of cannabis. It is such a relevant topic in today's time. I don't know when I first became interested in cannabis, but I do find it extremely interesting, especially for its medicinal uses.

What was your best memory during graduate school or what did you learn?

I honestly cannot choose my best memory. I have had so many unforgettable experiences. Some of them would include: attending autopsies in Laredo, an internship with San Antonio Police Department, and the bond I developed with my classmate, Salina, and my professor, Dr. George Kudolo.

What’s next?

Vacation. Seriously. I am taking a long, much needed vacation back to Alaska to visit family. After that, who knows. I am honestly very excited to start working. I look forward to starting my career.

Any advice for your fellow graduate students?

Don't give up and get connected! There were many times when I didn't know if I could continue. Luckily, I had an amazing classmate. Since it was only us two, we relied heavily on one another for support. We both listened to each other gripe, and we both lent shoulders to cry on. I don't know if I could have done this without her. 

Everyone needs someone like that. Sometimes there may not be enough support at home, but a classmate will surely know your pain! Get in touch with the Graduate Student Association and go to their meetings. It is run by students, for students, and they have information on everything from social events to post-graduation employment.

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