Criminalist provides examples of applying statistics in forensic science workshop in De Anza College

A criminalist from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Crime Laboratory taught students how to walk away from arson and suggested a new item should be added to the game “Clue” during a killer workshop on the applications of statistics in her line of work.

Criminalist Cordelia Willis was invited to present a Stats & Forensic Science workshop by the Statistics club, one of the newest De Anza clubs on campus.

During the workshop Willis told her audience stories of life at her job, including one where someone was killed with a fish shaped liquor bottle that she jokingly suggested be added to the game of Clue.

“We are doing this to motivate the students that have passion in the stat major so that they know that stats is not simply about a numbers,” Van Le, 22, business major, said.

President of the Statistics Club, Van Le, worked hard with her fellow club members to make the workshop happen.

Benjamin Leu
Cordelia Willis, Criminalist for the Santa Clara County Crime Laboratory, is explaining the details of a crime scene in Palo Alto, CA.

“It has been hard team work to make this event happen,” Statistics professor and faculty advisor for the Statistics club, Lenore Desilets said.

The club planned everything from the promotional posters to the snacks for the workshop.

Each aisle was littered with body parts and blood made of candy, and as the audiences snacked on their murderous morsels. Willis gave facts and examples of how statistics applies to her job.

“I really wanna promote the people who make up the stats club because they are the ones who make it go on,” said Desilets.“ It was definitely a success.”

Benjamin Leu
Willis shows the audience how they label evidence at a crime scene in Palo Alto, CA.

Desilets was happy that people took an interest in the workshop. “It’s not the number of people, its how much we affect each person,” she said.

Jenny Xu, 18, computer science major, didn’t plan on attending the workshop at all but noticed and joined in when passing by.

“I was planning on going straight home but then I saw this poster. I was listening to a crime podcast so it was a real coincidence that i stopped by,” Xu said.

Xu said she liked the examples of how statistics could be applied to the different situations presented in the workshops.