POSITION: Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream
ACADEMIC UNIT: Anthropology (forensic science program)
PLACE OF BIRTH: Sherbrooke, QC
JOINED UTM FACULTY: 2017
“When testifying as an expert witness in court, I try to explain complex scientific concepts in layman’s terms. I use those same skills in academia for an audience of students.”
As a youngster, Vivienne Luk was always intrigued by puzzles. In fact, she learned to assemble a 1,000-piece puzzle in under an hour. This passion for piecing things together led her to study forensic science at UTM and to pursue it as a career.
“I like working backwards,” Luk says. “There’s already a story there. You take a piece of evidence, let it speak for itself and see where it goes.”
After earning her Honours B.Sc., she was hired as a forensic technologist at the Ontario Centre of Forensic Sciences (CFS) in Toronto where she was responsible for analyzing physical evidence.
“I realized that I wanted to go to court to testify, and I needed an advanced degree,” Luk says, so she returned to U of T to earn an MSc and a PhD in chemistry. She rejoined CFS as a forensic scientist in the toxicology division and fulfilled her dream of testifying as an expert witness.
While working at the centre, Luk developed a forensic chemistry course that she taught to students in the UTM forensic science program. She accepted a full-time teaching appointment in 2017.
“I’ve lived and breathed forensic science for years,” she says. “I love teaching it and knowing that I can have some influence on the next generation of forensic practitioners. When testifying as an expert witness in court, I try to explain complex scientific concepts in layman’s terms. I use those same skills in academia for an audience of students.”
Recently, Luk received a grant for a cross-disciplinary project in forensic science; her forensic chemistry class will be paired with a forensic identification class, giving the two groups of students an opportunity to work together, allowing them to solidify fundamental concepts and understand how they fit together.
She is also conducting research into screening tests for drug impairment to see which key factors contribute to an impairment judgement.
“I’m very happy to be a part of the UTM community,” Luk says. “I can’t imagine another program whose community is so tightly knit.”