Buffalo Boss Babe: Amanda Finbar
Today’s Buffalo Boss Babe is Amanda Finbar, Forensic Biologist at the Erie County Forensic Laboratory, in the DNA section (what a boss babe!). While Amanda cannot give us the juicy details of the crimes she has helped to solve, she does tell us about her career path, family and her OBSESSION with schnauzers. Read below for more about this Buffalo Boss Babe scientist!
What made you start or brought you to where you are today? Tell us your story and what makes you a Buffalo Boss Babe?
When I was growing up, my father worked his way up from a police patrolman to Chief of Police. I was always in awe of my dad and what he did every day to help people and to keep our community safe. As a student, I excelled in the sciences and loved any classes that I took pertaining to life science. In high school, I found the perfect way to combine my interest in and respect for the law and my love of science - to study Forensic Science in college, with an emphasis on molecular biology. I went on to graduate in May 2004 from The Rochester Institute of Technology with High Honors, receiving my Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Criminal Justice. After RIT, I attended the State University of New York at Albany, where I earned a Masters degree in Forensic Molecular Biology in 2005. While in Albany, I actually doubled up on elective classes so that I could graduate early (life was pretty sucky for a while, but it was worth it!). This allowed me to come home after only two semesters and begin an internship at the Erie County Forensic Laboratory, in the DNA section, in May of 2005. I was hired on as a DNA analyst shortly thereafter and in 2011 I was promoted to a Section Supervisor within the DNA section, where I have been working ever since. I love working as a Forensic Biologist in Buffalo because it enables me to help out the region where I grew up, working every day to provide important public safety services for the residents. Being able to use science to develop information that can help to solve crimes, keep our residents safe, bring closure to victims and their families, and exonerate the innocent is such a fulfilling job and one that I am proud to have.
What does being a Buffalo Boss Babe mean to you?
To me, being a Buffalo Boss Babe means working within your power to make Buffalo a better place to live and to visit. Using my STEM skills to help solve crimes, therefore increasing the safety of our communities in and around Buffalo, is exactly what I had hoped to do when I picked this career path over 18 years ago.
Have you experienced any challenges from being in a STEM career? If so, what did you learn from them?
Yes! Starting in High School, whenever I excelled in a STEM class I would often get backlash from the guys in my classes. No one ever expected me, a girl who didn't fit the mold of a "science nerd", to ever do better than a male student. In college, I dealt with this same thing, but on a much larger scale. People would often make rude, judgmental comments about how they couldn't "figure out" how I scored well on an exam, or how I made the Dean's List, or earned a 4.0 GPA, or graduated with High Honors. The worst was when I was awarded a prestigious memorial scholarship in my Senior year at RIT and I had more than a few people imply that I didn't deserve the award. I think part of the reason I was able to brush it off and keep going was that my mother always encouraged me to work hard, especially when others were counting on me to fail. She pushed me hard, but ultimately her main goal in life was to raise a daughter who was successful and self-sufficient. She always told me that I had to have a career of my own, and I had to work hard for it because I needed to be able to take care of myself. That advice was always so critical for me and inspired me to work hard, whether others believed I would be successful or not. Thankfully, today in 2018 this way of thinking seems to be on the decline. Girls are encouraged to take STEM classes and to pursue careers in STEM fields more than ever. My daughter is in Girl Scouts and they offer so many events geared around STEM; it makes me so happy as a female scientist to see that change happening.
Who are your favorite people to follow?
My insta feed is filled with a little bit of everything. I follow a lot of Buffalo food accounts, music accounts, lacrosse and cheerleading accounts (for my daughter), and about a hundred schnauzer accounts (I am a self-proclaimed Crazy Schnauzer Lady).
What are your favorite things to do in the area (Buffalo and greater WNY)?
I love to go out for Jeep rides and burgers in Buffalo with my husband, it's kind of our "thing". When we were younger, we were all about going out for fancy steak dinners, but now, I just want to go out for a burger and a drink. We try to go to new places each time, but I am always partial to Vizzi's. I also love to go to all of the festivals we have in and around Erie County. My sister moved out of state and that is one thing she misses about home; every weekend you can find something to do in Buffalo. The Erie County Fair is my favorite event; my birthday always falls during the fair and I love to spend the day there with my husband and daughter.
Tell me about your favorite collaborations or a dream collaboration?
Professionally, collaborating isn't really an option due to the sensitive nature of my job. Personally, I would love to work on bringing a schnauzer rescue to the Western New York area. There are a few rescues in other regions of the U.S. that are tailored specifically to Schnauzers and schnauzer mixes, and I would love to be involved with something like that here in Buffalo.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world who would it be?
If having coffee with someone from the past is an option, I would love to sit down with Charles Darwin. I know that makes me sound like a cliche science nerd, but his contribution to science was so important. I was able to travel to the Galapagos Islands after graduating from RIT and I spent time on the same islands that Darwin did when he was gathering his thoughts and theories about evolution. To be able to sit down with him and discuss the amazing animals and plants that I saw on that trip, and to learn from him how they all shaped his theories, would be my dream.
What are your hopes, dreams, goals? Big or Small.
Personally, my main goal in life is to raise my daughter to be happy, healthy, and kind. Professionally, knowing that I helped to solve a crime and bring closure to a victim is undoubtedly a great feeling, and I am proud of the cases I have been able to work on during my career thus far. I hope that I can keep working in this capacity for many years to come, positively impacting the lives of more people along the way.
Tell us about your family (2 Legged, 4 Legged)?
My husband, Erik, and I will be celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary this month. He is an amazing cook and the best vacation planner around. Our daughter, Kendall, is 9 years old and she keeps me so busy. She is a cheerleader, a lacrosse player, and a super Girl Scout. I love her enthusiasm and passion for things she believes in, like saving animals from traps or selling cookies to support her Girl Scout troop. We love to travel often, choosing to gift Kendall with experiences rather than more "stuff". I also have a 12-year-old miniature schnauzer, Bowzer, who was my first baby, and a Schnoodle, Lucky, who we rescued two years ago. I would love to have more Schnauzers, but Erik had to draw the line at two because of how often we travel.
Feel Good Five :)
Food: Burger and fries
Super Power: Being able to spot a schnauzer in a crowd
Season of the year: Summer
Favorite thing about Buffalo: The Erie County Fair
What a kick a** babe, right? As a woman in science, Amanda kept pushing forward even when others implied she didn’t deserve her accomplishments. Amanda, thank you for being a role model to not only your daughter but also to the future boss babes of Buffalo! You can follow Amanda, her family, and schnauzers on Instagram @ValGirl500
Until next time babes!
Buffalo Boss Babes is a woman run blog series featuring women in and around the city of Buffalo N.Y.
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Here's to strong women! May we know them. May we be them