Nicole Fernández Tejero

Summer 2023 Real Triumphs Graduate

Degree: Ph.D. in Chemistry

School: School of Integrated Science and Humanity

College: College of Arts, Sciences & Education

When Nicole Fernández Tejero was 9 years old, she found a DVD in her mom’s car for the television show CSI. Nicole was hooked — so much so that her mom bought her play fingerprint kits. As she grew up, the Puerto Rican native knew she wanted to make a difference through science. She just wasn’t sure how.

That changed when Nicole joined a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program in FIU Chemistry Professor Bruce McCord’s lab in 2017. It was her first real-life experience with forensic science. Then, after graduating with a chemistry degree from the University of Puerto Rico in 2018, Nicole left her home country and joined FIU as a graduate student.

While at FIU, she published several papers, including one on how she and a team developed a microwave-based extraction for forensic biological samples. She successfully defended her dissertation less than two months after giving birth to her son, Nicolás. Now, she is completing an internship with the Department of Homeland Security and hopes to one day be back in Puerto Rico, but this time, as director of a forensics center — a real-life CSI.

By Christine Calvo
Account Manager
College of Arts, Sciences & Education