Students hear from NCIS agent at Science Cafe

Students hear from NCIS agent at Science Cafe

It was standing room only at the Middle School Science Cafe April 10 as Jeffrey Kierman ‘94, an NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) special agent, returned to his alma mater to discuss his uniquely challenging, highly interesting, and very rewarding career with students. 

Amiable and using a great deal of discretion with his young audience, Kierman discussed his 18 years as a federal agent investigating crimes — specifically, homicides — involving the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps. Based in Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in Southern California, Kierman is now the supervisory forensic consultant in charge of the 12 other forensic consultants worldwide. Those forensic consultants, in turn, work with crime scene investigation teams in 144 countries around the globe. 

“We’re not in the military, but we work with the military,” explained Kierman, who at one time in his life also served in both the U.S. Air Force and the USMC. 

Kierman discussed the special role NCIS plays, the importance of processing and documenting a crime scene, the advancement of DNA technology, and the need for a proper chain of custody to ensure that evidence remains usable in a court of law. He explained what a “cold case” was and expressed pride in serving as lead investigator in the solving of a 26-year-old murder case. The students heard a first-person account of the daily life of a crime scene investigator and how science directly applies to that role.  

Students in the Science Cafe inundated Kierman with questions as did the entire fifth grade class — who all study forensics as part of their yearlong science curriculum and who met with Kierman immediately after the Science Cafe. Topics included: luminol, the chemical that reacts with hemoglobin (an oxygen-carrying protein in the blood) to detect trace elements of blood at a crime scene; the process for properly obtaining fingerprints; and the efficacy of bullet-proof vests. When discussing cold cases, Kierman emphasized that if it involves a murder, a cold case is never closed. 

“We never shut them down,” he said, emphasizing the loss suffered not only by a murder victim but by that victim’s family. “We keep working on them forever.” 

Coordinated by Middle School Science Teacher Natalie Young, the Science Cafe series introduces STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) topics and careers to interested middle schoolers. 

Recent News