Hello, and welcome to the Forensics Digest Q & A Session. Monthly, we interview students and experts of forensic science on a host of topics ranging from technical aspects to career soft skills.
Today we have with us, Ms. Kopal Kapoor, who is an alumna of National Forensic Science University, Gujarat (NFSU) and has qualified UGC-NET (LS) in her 3rd semester of Masters degree itself!
Kopal has her specialization in Forensic Biotechnology and is currently employed as a JRF at the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Center, Gandhinagar.
Ques- Tell us about your childhood and schooling. Who all are there in the family and what are their professions?
Kopal – I come from a very simple family, my father being lawyer and my mother a homemaker. I’m raised with my elder sister and younger brother. I was the naughtiest kid of my house. My sister is a senior software engineer whereas my brother is pursuing law. My elder sister had already raised a benchmark for me in studies since the beginning and I always had to match that level. Pressure isn’t good but it sometimes allows you to push yourself beyond your limits and the same happened with me.
Ques – What made you think that Forensic Science is the career you want to pursue? Which all other entrance exams did you appear in and which all have you been able to qualify in?
Kopal – I had studied for the medical admission tests alongside my 12th board exams, but I was unable to clear it in my first attempt. I’d always seen myself as a doctor, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen. It was time to apply for admission, and I was completely blank. My father made the decision for me to pursue forensic sciences without wasting any time, and he told me everything about it. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it, but I stuck to the route that he (my father) had shown me.
Ques – What was your All India Rank, score/marks in the NFSU entrance exam? Which year did you qualify in NFSU?
Kopal – Before I answer this question specifically, I want to tell you how it all started. I enrolled in Galgotias University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in forensic science. I began studying and would spend most of my time in the library, reading books; my interest grew with each passing day; I enjoyed my studies so much that by the end of first year, I had made up my mind that I wanted to be a forensic scientist. With that never-ending curiosity and excitement, I earned a gold medal for my bachelor’s degree. Following that, I gave entrance exam for a Master’s programme at Sagar University, NFSU, and NICFS. I secured 12th rank in the Sagar University entrance exam and 25th in the NFSU entrance exam. The result of NICFS came later by that time I had already enrolled in NFSU.
Ques – How much time did you prepare for the exam?
Kopal – To be honest, I didn’t prepare for NFSU; instead, I thoroughly reviewed forensic concepts. However, the exam covered general aptitude, physics, chemistry, biology, elementary algebra, and only a few forensics problems. The admission syllabus was not specified till my time, but it is presently. In 2019, I was enrolled into NFSU. I also took the UGC-NET 2020 exam and cleared the LS.
Ques – How should one prepare for the NFSU entrance exam and What should be the preparation strategy for self study?
Kopal- Since the syllabus is now available on the NFSU website, one can readily prepare; however, a comprehensive review is required, and the fundamentals should be mastered. Everyone has their own method of studying, but whether studying for 2 hours or 4 hours, one should be committed to his studies. While studying, take short pauses and review what you’ve learned so far. Allocate time for preparation for all areas and continue to practice questions. I’d want to describe how I address problem-solving. The question is followed by four options, one of which is correct; if you know the question, you can easily answer it; however, if the question is unclear, try to decipher the meaning of all of the options; this not only clarifies the question, but it also introduces you to new concepts that may be related to it.
Ques – Can you suggest some good books with Author names which you referred to during your preparation?
Kopal- For clearing concepts, students can refer a number of books –
- Forensic science – from the crime scene to the crime lab by Saferstein
- Forensic Science: An Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques by Nordby
- Principles of instrumental analysis – Croog and West
- Essentials of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology by K. S. Narayan Reddy
Ques- Any online test series you suggest?
Kopal – Aspiring students can prepare by visiting the Forensics Digest website, which conducts mock M.sc entrance tests for a number of universities.
Ques – Tell us the complete selection procedure for NFSU. Mention stages of exams, interview, document verification etc.
Kopal – The NFSU admissions process is divided into two stages: first, a written test is conducted, then students are invited for an interview based on the merit list prepared, clearing which students have to go through the document verification process, for that they have to provide their original documents, a list of which will be posted on the website or sent through mail.
Ques – What are your future plans? Also tell us about your current job in short ?
Kopal – After completing Masters in forensic science with specialization in forensic Biotechnology, I am currently employed as a JRF at the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Center, Gandhinagar, where I am working on a project involving the development of a vaccine against the zoonotic disease- leptospirosis via an immunoinformatics approach. My future goal is to gain valuable research experience before beginning my PhD. Along with my PhD, I’ll be studying for competitive tests so that I can work as a Scientific Officer in a Central or State Forensic Science Laboratory.
Ques – Any advice for the budding forensic professionals?
Kopal – My only piece of advice to aspiring forensic professionals is to have patience and work hard and smart, as our field requires both. Though it takes a long time to achieve a renowned position in an FSL, enjoy the ride. Continue to study and do not set limits for yourself. All the best to all the candidates who will be taking the NFSU and other admission exam.
We wish Ms. Kopal all the best for her future endeavors.
P.S – The answers given by the interviewee is not edited in any form.