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Graduate Spotlight: Forensic Science Supervisor Steven Swenson

Graduate Spotlight: Forensic Science Supervisor Steven Swenson

Steven Swenson is a forensic science supervisor at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). Swenson has had a passion for forensics since his time at Maple Grove Senior High School (MGSH), where he graduated in 1999. His class was the first one to start at the new building, which was built in 1996, and go all the way through high school.

While at MGSH, Swenson was a jumper captain on the track and field team. He also participated in band and played for a year on the football and basketball teams. Swenson was in the post-secondary program at MGSH, earning college credit for his classes. His time participating in these activities taught him how to work hard for a positive outcome. 

“One of the best lessons I learned from high school was that working hard can really get you somewhere. Putting in a lot of effort and doing the things that are difficult are worth it in the end,” Swenson said.

Two teachers that stand out to Swenson from his time at MGSH were his tenth grade science teachers, Ms. Hennen and Mr. Gerst. After thriving in Ms. Hennen’s class, she advanced him to Mr. Hurst’s high performance biology class. One of the first subjects he learned about was DNA and genetics, which helped Swenson to develop his passion for the subject. 

Swenson went to the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he got his degree in biology. After college, he got a job with an environmental company, where he was contracted to work with the pharmaceutical division at 3M. 

Swenson began at the BCA in 2004 after he applied for a forensic position. He became interested in the field after attending a symposium on forensics in college that he enjoyed. Swenson’s favorite part of his job lines up with the overarching goal of the BCA: to make Minnesota safer. 

“That is really what we are here for, to do work that supports law enforcement and the legal system and help provide answers to families,” Swenson said. “I think that’s why so many people here stay as long as they do. It is a really mission-based job.”

He started at the BCA in the mitochondrial DNA section. While he was in this division, the BCA partnered with the FBI as a part of a cooperative agreement. As one of only four labs in the country performing this testing, Swenson got to spend time in a forensics lab at the FBI academy and learn new techniques. 

He then moved into a role as a supervisor in the firearms and latent prints group, where he worked for a few years before transitioning to work as a supervisor with evidence intake, crime scene and blood splatter, as well as with a crime gun database group.

“There is a lot of variety in what we do, and I have been able to get involved in a lot of different areas,” Swenson said. 

Swenson recently visited the Crime and Justice class at MGSH to talk about his job and give a demonstration. He also has taught blood splatter and crime scene courses at Hamline University. He loves to see the interest, passion and excitement in students who he could potentially work with someday. 

“Don’t get frustrated if things aren’t working out,” Swenson suggested to today’s students. “If you really have a dream and it is something you want to work for, go for it.”

In his free time, Swenson enjoys fishing and spending time with his family, including his four children. He loves being able to watch them succeed in school and persevere through challenges.

“I think my greatest accomplishment is having a really positive family experience and having a job that I can support my family with,” Swenson said.