Under the Microscope – Tim Augsback

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) confronted a state-wide Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) testing initiative to eliminate the backlog of untested kits. As part of this initiative, over 13,000 kits were submitted. In order to process these kits in-house, BCI developed a tiered approach that enabled scientists to complete processing in a five year […]

Under the Microscope – Kate Stevenson

SWGDAM outlines validation requirements for individual laboratories which include concordance, reproducibility, accuracy and precision, sensitivity and stochastic effects and mixture studies. The details of these requirements are informative but balancing of sample numbers versus robust results to establish conclusions and subsequent guidelines is more tricky. In her presentation at ISHI, Kate Stevenson (a Senior Scientist at the […]

Under the Microscope – Lynndsey Simon

Current extraction methods employed by the Columbus Police Forensic Services Center use incubation times that can exceed two hours and require subsequent purification on robotic instrumentation. Promega’s Casework Direct kit allows for the rapid processing of casework samples with no subsequent purification of the lysate required prior to STR amplification. In her presentation at ISHI, […]

Under the Microscope – Amelia Gamblin

The true origin of contamination events can rarely, if ever, be truly determined as nucleated cells and DNA molecules, akin to bacteria cells and viruses are invisible to the naked eye due to their microscopic nature. Contamination incidents in forensic laboratories result in quality investigations, increased labour, higher costs, poor customer service, injustice for complainants, […]

Under the Microscope – Greg Hampikian

Since 2016, the authors have been funded by a DOJ Bloodsworth Grant to use probabilistic genotyping (TrueAllele) and other DNA analysis methods to help free the wrongfully convicted. They have helped overturn 3 convictions (a 4th expected soon). Working with the Montana Innocence Project, the authors helped exonerate two men in 2018 who were convicted of […]

Under the Microscope – Julie Valentine

A collaborative database was created in Utah to link data on sexual assault kits (SAKs) from evidence collection through submission to the state crime laboratory and DNA analysis. To date, approximately 250 variables per sexual assault kit have been coded on 4,038 cases from 2010 to 2016 throughout Utah.  Due to the large amount of […]

Under the Microscope – Amy Jeanguenat

Bias used to be a topic that was avoided in forensic science; it was dismissed and no one want to be labeled as having it.  However, the acknowledgement that as human beings we have cognitive bias is now being embraced and being considered as part of considerations in workflow and performance in forensic testing. In […]

Under the Microscope – Sara Katsanis and Jen Wagner

As the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy unfolded in Spring-Summer 2018, so too did a barrage of stories around migrant children being separated from their parents, and then mandates to re-unify them by judge-ordered deadlines. Atop the chaos were calls for DNA testing to screen migrants for trafficking, offers from genomics companies to donate tests and reagents, and […]

Under the Microscope – Sarah Dingle

DNA analysis is a powerful tool for researchers, scientists and law enforcement. But in the everyday lives of people across the globe, affordable access to DNA testing has brought about a seismic shift. For the first time, donor conceived people can find their biological fathers, mothers or siblings. Donor conception has exploded in the last […]