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Forensic science after 9/11

  Campus News  

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City were the turning point in a young career for Jason Kolowski '98, a forensic scientist in the city's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. From his home just six miles away, he watched on television as the World Trade Center towers collapsed. The following day he became part of the "largest disaster recovery in the history of the world."

"I was helping undress the bodies of firemen and businessmen, rescue workers and office workers, documenting their personal effects, looking for identifiable markings, and taking DNA samples," he related in March at a campus lecture sponsored by the biology department. Kolowski majored in biochemistry-molecular biology and philosophy with a chemistry minor.

Food, clothes, water, and supplies from around the country were donated to the rescue and recovery workers, but a letter posted at a Salvation Army food cart, from a little girl whose father and uncle were missing, had the biggest impact on Kolowski.

"For the first time, it hit me that there were families waiting for the results of our work," he said. Less than two months later he would assist in identifying 265 victims of a plane crash in New York-which, thanks to procedures forced by Sept. 11, his office completed within a month.

Kolowski is pursuing a master's degree in forensic science. His wife, Stacy Markus '98, has graduated from Cardozo School of Law and passed the bar exam.

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