July 30, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Alumni News | Warner’s Path Leads to Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office

Marcus Warner, portrait

Marcus Warner ’06

By Marcus Warner ’06, M.S., F-ABC
Senior Forensic Scientist with Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office

I started my undergraduate career at Ohio University certain of one thing—I wanted to work in science.

I had a bumpy start my first year and really questioned is chemistry really for me. Maybe too much socializing? Or perhaps I was lacking confidence as a first-year student? I really enjoyed science, but it didn’t come as naturally as I thought it would and as experienced in high school.

Reluctant to Change Majors and Willing to Work Harder…

After a short period of reflection my first year at Ohio University, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a chemist, and I wanted to continue pursuit of a forensic chemistry degree.

I remember being in my first law enforcement technology course. The room was packed with over, I believe, 50-plus students. (It was said there were over 100 enrolled in the forensic chemistry degree program). And there were not even enough desks for the forensic chemistry undergraduate students in this class. CSI shows sparked the interest of many, but my interest came from a love in science. I didn’t want a career that involved running the same tests each day, and I realized that forensic science would allow me to explore new cases with varying approaches. The 100-plus students quickly dropped to less than 30 students (I graduated in 2006 with 16 classmates!) after it was realized that CSI did not equal forensic chemistry, or the chemistry was too much (“weed out” courses?).

Reluctant to change majors and willing to work harder, I attended learning communities, study sessions, and really began to work with my classmates.

It paid off.

Internship Turns into First Job; Next Job Right Around the Corner

I landed an internship the summer after my junior year in an environmental chemistry laboratory in Columbus. Making the grades and progressing through the classes, I graduated. After graduation, I went on to work full-time at that environmental lab running the semi-volatiles department there. My girlfriend and now wife, Jessica, also alumni from Ohio University in education, moved in with me from Cleveland to Columbus.

Marcus Warner, portrait

Marcus Warner

We made a decision to leave Ohio for a “new” start, in a new environment with warm weather and yearly “vacation.” She had family in south Florida and landed a contract at the Palm Beach County School district. I began interviews in the area in spring of 2007.

I stumbled upon a private DNA laboratory by complete coincidence. That is, a biology lab that I was dropping off a resume and cover letter indicated that a DNA lab was around the corner in the same corporate plaza.

I walked into the DNA office and I introduced myself. They had me at “I have a forensic chemistry degree.” I got the job and started in June of 2007 as a forensic serologist. I missed chemistry, though, and started looking for a new career after working in DNA for about six or so months.

I saw an opening at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in the drug chemistry unit. I went for it without any expectations. Months later and a very slow governmental hiring process, I begin working as a forensic scientist at the sheriff’s office in drug chemistry.

Earning a Master’s, Publishing in Journals

I have since been here furthering my career, earning certification from the American Board of Criminalistics in drug analysis in 2010. In 2014 I completed a master’s degree from the University of Florida in Pharmaceutical Sciences with a concentration in forensic drug chemistry. I gained my very first peer-reviewed publication in 2015 as the primary contributing author on the topic of Kratom. I moved on to complete a second publication as the primary contributing author in the research of cannabis drying published by Forensic Chemistry, which is run by co-editor-in-chief and a past OHIO professor Dr. Glen Jackson.

It’s been an fantastic experience so far and I could not have done it with my degree from Ohio University and the many experiences gained along the way with my classmates and professors. With a little time, confidence and determination, as well as finding out my interests, I became and continue to be happily employed here in sunny Florida.

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