Stacey Edwards has been a vocal member of Twitter’s #DFIR community (tweeting as @4n6woman) for at least two years, and was part of the original Forensic 4cast episode that started this blog series rolling. She’s contributed to the SANS Computer Forensics Blog, which was well received within the community. Until recently employed in the private sector, Stacey is now actively seeking new opportunities.
About her personal style, Stacey says, “I might be quiet, but I consider it observing my surroundings and then adding my ‘two cents’ if needed.” From what I understand, her input in classes and conference lectures is worth a lot more than that. Following is a little more about another female forensicator to watch.
Christa: You’ve been doing forensics for 4 or 5 years, right? What got you interested in the field to begin with?
Stacey: I have – just over 4 years. I became interested in the field first on the “blood and guts” side. CSI (the original one) was very popular when I realized that I could make a career out of forensics. It was within a few minutes in my first class that I knew that the show was NOTHING like the real world – shocking, right? In fact, I thought the real world version was much more entertaining and stuck with it. Before graduating with my Associate of Applied Science in Forensic Science, I learned that working in the computer side of forensics was an option. I graduated three years later with my Bachelor of Science in Computer Forensics.
Christa: What was your experience in Defiance’s computer forensics program?
Stacey: It was a brand new program, and I was in the first class to graduate with that particular degree. Some of our courses were programming (Visual Basic), forensics, and networking. We had a semester-long internship program, which I completed at the Defiance County Sheriff’s Office. The computer forensics program was very challenging, but after the lessons finally “clicked” one day, it became a little easier. I was even able to graduate at the top of my class!
Christa: What led you to become GIAC certified? Likewise, to learn Python scripting?
Stacey: My GIAC certification (GCFA) was actually a part of the required curriculum when I was in college. We took a mentored FOR508 program, studied the course material, and quizzed each other. We all passed our GCFA certifications, and I was even offered a mentor-ship through SANS for my high score.
(Since I was fresh out of college and with no forensics work experience, I did not take them up on the offer. Now that I have more experience under my belt, I have thought more about becoming a mentor and helping others, but have not fully decided if I should.)
Python scripting was a little different. After attending the SANS conference in Austin, TX this summer, I saw a need in the field for more programmers. One of my favorite courses in college was programming, so I knew I could do it.
I recently signed up for an online college course taught through the University of Toronto but offered through Coursera. Even though we are only a couple weeks into the program, I have already learned so much. In the near future, I hope to be working on testing some of the Python scripting with the soon-to-be-released python version of log2timeline (per Kristinn Gudjonsson’s request).
Christa: What types of cases do you most enjoy working on?
Stacey: I most enjoy working on criminal, forensics cases – fraud and arson, in particular. With my husband being a local police officer and hearing his stories, it helps drive my passion to get into the law enforcement side of forensics investigations.
Christa: Cindy [Murphy] says you’re a great student, that you have a knack for making connections even as you are sitting in a class, learning something new. This doesn’t come easily to everyone — what drives your passion for learning? And how are you not afraid of speaking up to ask or give feedback?
Stacey: I love learning new things. Every night before I go to bed, I read 10-15 pages in a personal development book. (The book right now is titled “The Slight Edge” and is written by Jeff Olson.) This small effort every night keeps me motivated to learn.
In reading these books, I have also realized that I should never be ashamed to ask for help. All successful people have asked for help at one time or another because they realize that no one can ever know everything there is to know. My advice to everyone would be to always ask for help. You won’t be the only person with the same question, but you might be the only person brave enough to ask!
Christa: What do you find most challenging in the best way?
Stacey: The most challenging part of forensics, for me, would have to be trying to stay ahead of the game. The field is constantly changing, and there is always something new to learn. Community support and collaboration has been fantastic to help us all advance so quickly, but we have a long way to go. We will never know everything, but that’s part of what makes forensics fun and allows for growth.
Christa: As a forensicator going forward, what are your professional goals?
Stacey: My professional goals include, at the very least, future employment with an outstanding company. I would also like to contribute more to the forensics community through testing and helping to write new programs as my skills improve.
Stacey, thanks for sharing more about your experience and professional goals. It’s been an honor and pleasure to know you, and I look forward to seeing your continued contributions.