“I’ve known I wanted to work in law enforcement since I was in kindergarten,” Presidential Scholar Henry Swofford says. Although not certain of which area of the profession he wanted to pursue, Henry found his interest working on a science fair project in high school. His research study on fingerprints turned into a job at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) that he still holds today. Henry wanted to know if a correlation existed between fingerprint patterns and an individual’s ethnicity. He wrote a letter to the Director of the GBI requesting assistance to collect fingerprints from their labs. “One lucky milestone in my life was his agreement to meet with me and allow me to use their data,” Henry says. “After analyzing more than 20,000 fingerprints from official records, I concluded that fingerprint pat­terns do match ethnicity in most cases. Therefore, if you have a certain fingerprint pattern scene and 100 suspects, you may be able to examine a specific ethnicity to speed up results.”

Henry has presented this research at the Georgia State Division of the International Association for Identification, a group of forensic professionals. The study was also published in the Journal of Forensic Identification, an international forensic science journal. In September, Henry introduced his latest research on alcohol consumption at the Southern Association of Forensic Scientists Conference. He tested to see if the type of foods people eat can determine the speed and absorption of alcohol based on digestion time. Henry will also present the alcohol consumption study at the Society of Forensic Toxicology in North Carolina this fall.

“One of the best things about the Presidential Scholarship is the reputation it carries. It has given me a great deal of validity when speaking at these conferences. The use of a laptop has also been a tremendous asset to my research,” he says. Henry plans to use his biology major to advance his career in the forensic science area of law enforcement.