This summer, chemistry major Kayla Kunkel’s research as an intern with the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office Forensic Lab brought to light a new tool for fingerprint analysis.

“I worked with a fluorescent fingerprinting agent, Lumicyano. Lumicyano is a one-step fluorescent cyanoacrylate fuming process. The fluorescence of the product makes viewing and analyzing fingerprints easier,” said Kunkel.

Over the course of 10 weeks, she worked to validate the product and create a procedure for its use. Without her research any evidence utilizing the agent could not have been used in court.

“I did a bunch of tests comparing different values for relative humidity, fume times and concentrations of solution. I worked to determine what the actual best values were for each of these criteria,” she explained.

Beyond her research, the internship gave Kunkel the opportunity to make connections and learn about a variety of different disciplines within forensic science.

She credits her experience in the Chemistry Department for giving her the tools and confidence to complete her research. From extensive lab experience to a solid work ethic and the ability to work independently, she said the county lab team was impressed with her results.

She’s also thankful for the mentorship of Dr. Robin McCann, department chair and professor of chemistry.

“Dr. McCann has been by my side since I transferred here my sophomore year. She has advised me and helped me through my ever-changing career goals. She has always pushed me to be the best I can be. I appreciate her so much,” said Kunkel.

With this real-world experience under her belt, Kunkel looks forward to her career ahead of her.

“I have recently figured out that I want to teach. I want to help the future generations love chemistry like I do,” said Kunkel.