No one has hours to scour the papers to keep up with the latest news, so we’ve curated the top news stories in the field of Forensic Science for this week. Here’s what you need to know to get out the door!
A DNA test has helped reunite a mother and daughter after nearly 70 years by uncovering a startling secret: A baby girl long thought to be dead was alive, and had been covertly adopted by a family in Southern California that lied about her origins.
Thanks to the availability of DNA testing it’s easier than ever before to actually trace that family tree. Armed with a new understanding of who they are and where they come from, people are flocking to their family’s homelands in such droves that this DNA travel, so to speak, landed on Lonely Planet’s list of Top Travel Trends for 2019.
For police and prosecutors, a bigger database is a better one. But in the latest challenge, a pair of social justice groups on Monday sued the California Department of Justice over the state’s requirement that authorities collect and keep the DNA profile of anyone arrested for a felony, regardless of whether the person is convicted.
League City police recently employed Virginia-based Parabon NanoLabs to determine the physical appearance and possible origin of the victims, using a new method of forensic DNA analysis called DNA phenotyping.
Nevada has now struck a deal to make it happen with STACS DNA and its Track-Kit, a cloud-based software system allowing all stakeholders to access the same system from different portals. It makes the Silver State the fifth and latest to adopt the tracking system—with other states in talks to potentially adopt the “turnkey” solution that brings states into compliance with demanding “rape kit” laws.
However, the machines are not connected to CODIS, the FBI’s combined national DNA database. So the FBI is launching a Rapid DNA initiative to place the machines in police and sheriffs’ booking stations around the country, hoping to enable law enforcement to check arrestees against the CODIS database and, when matches are made to DNA from unsolved crimes, head off the release of the suspects.
It is the responsibility of academic institutions and individual educators to create a learning atmosphere within classrooms that fosters a love for the sciences. The goal should be to encourage students to develop a passion for STEM at a young age and support their learning through high school and college, providing them with the tools needed to follow a pathway to a forensic science career.
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