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In a day's work: ASU alumna sees plenty of blood

June 16, 2009

A degree at Arizona State University can lead a Sun Devil just about anywhere. The following is part of a series that shows how ASU's young alumni are already making their mark on the state, nation and world.

Unlike the detectives on the “CSI” television series family of shows, Amanda Gallegos doesn’t spend her days analyzing bullet trajectories, blood spatter patterns and fingerprints. She treks a lot of miles between the police lab and the courthouse, however, and she sees plenty of blood.

She’s a forensic scientist for the Phoenix Police Department, having worked in its toxicology lab for the past four and a half years. She specializes in DUI cases, analyzing the blood of drivers who are trying to stay out of jail.

Gallegos graduated from ASU summa cum laude with a dual degree in chemistry and justice studies in 2004, capping an active college career with participation in numerous activities. She’d thought she might go to medical school. But after volunteering in the police lab the summer after graduation, she found herself fascinated with toxicology.

Gallegos has testified 175 times in Phoenix Municipal Court about the effects of drugs and alcohol on individuals, holding her own on the witness stand in some of the most adversarial, highly litigated cases in the court.

“I try to be as objective as possible,” says Gallegos, 27. “I’m very analytical and detail oriented. I really like what I do. I look on it as educating a panel of jurors, talking to them to help them understand a concept.”

For relaxation, Gallegos plays full-contact women’s rugby, a sport she took up at ASU. Now she plays forward twice a week with the Scottsdale Lady Blues.

In the courtroom, that competitive streak may well make her as tough-minded as any detective on “CSI.”