This Week in Forensic Science

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!


This week in forensic science header

Crime Prediction Software Now Used by Dubai Police Force (Forensic Magazine – 12/30/2016)

  • Space Imaging Middle East’s (SIME) cutting-edge Crime Prediction software is the newest recruit to join the Dubai Police Force.


Israeli Zoo Creates DNA Bank to Secure Preservation of Endangered Species (i24  – 12/30/2016)

  • An Israeli safari park is teaming up with a leading German institute to create a DNA bank of endangered animals, in hopes that these animals could be resurrected if they go extinct, Israel’s Ynet news site reported on Thursday.


Bias in Criminal Risk Scores is Mathematically Inevitable, Researchers Say (ProPublica – 12/30/2016)

  • ProPublica’s analysis of bias against black defendants in criminal risk scores has prompted research showing that the disparity can be addressed — if the algorithms focus on the fairness of outcomes.


Years After Transatlantic Slavery, DNA Tests Give Clarity (PBS Newshour – 12/31/2016)

  • DNA ancestry tests in the last decade have helped some African-Americans reconcile with aspects of their identities that might have been obscured during the transatlantic slave trade. Alondra Nelson chronicles this journey in her book, “The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations and Reconciliation After the Genome.” Nelson joins Hari Sreenivasan.


Forensics 2.0 (The Scientist – 1/1/2017)

  • Meet the researchers working to untangle the mystery of a Missouri home filled with bones by bringing cutting-edge technologies into the crime lab.


Gov. Abbott Appoints Texas A&M Professor, District Attorney to Forensic Science Board (The Eagle – 1/1/2017)

  • Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Texas A&M professor Nancy Downing and Brazos County District Attorney Jarvis Parsons to the nine-member Texas Forensic Science Commission in late November.


UIndy Team Heads Off on Forensic Mission to Identify Migrant Bodies Found in Texas (WTHR 13 – 1/1/2017)

  • With the new year, a group of local college students are setting off on a long-distance field trip providing an unusual but vital service.


Need of Hour: Wildlife Forensics Debuts at GFSU (Ahmedabad Mirror – 1/2/2017)

  • In a first of its kind initiative , the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University (GFSU) is training 20 students in the field of wildlife forensics, keeping in mind the need for experts to solve cases ranging from animal attacks to mauling of bodies dumped in forested areas.


Hi-Tech Home Appliances Could Help Crack Murder Mysteries (India Today – 1/2/2017)

  • Fridges, coffee makers, washing machines and lightbulbs could soon become vital witnesses in murder plots, according to a top Scotland Yard official.


Not Enough Room in New $555 Million Courthouse to Store Evidence in Criminal Cases (The San Diego Union-Tribune – 1/2/2017)

  • When it opens in early 2017, the new building — a $555 million, 22-story glittering tower on Union and C streets — will have about half the storage space for criminal trial exhibits that it has now in the old building..


Forensic Nightmare: The Perils of Touch DNA (Townhall – 1/4/2017)

  • This year, I’ll be using my syndicated column and new investigative show on to shed light on the use and abuse of touch DNA in the criminal justice system. Detection methods involving tinier and tinier DNA samples have advanced rapidly during the last three decades.


Dust to Dust: Scientists Find DNA of Human Ancestors in Cave Floor Dirt (NPR – 1/4/2017)

  • Imagine being able to collect the DNA of a human ancestor who’s been dead for tens of thousands of years from the dirt on the floor of a cave. Sounds fantastic, but scientists in Germany think they may be able to do just that. If they’re successful, it could open a new door into understanding the extinct relatives of humans.


UCF Researcher Looks into Condom Lubricants as Forensic Evidence in Rape (Forensic Magazine – 1/4/2017)

  • Trace evidence is the basis of all forensic work. When a person comes into contact with an object, minute material is exchanged between the two, building the narrative for cops and prosecutors – in theory, at least.


Parabon Snapshot Helps Investigators Solve Double-Homicide Cold Case (PR Newswire – 1/4/2017)

  • With the generous permission of the Rockingham County NC Sheriff’s Office (RCSO), Parabon® NanoLabs (Parabon) announces the company’s participation in the agency’s successful investigation of the murders of Douglas “Troy” and LaDonna French.


Austin Police DNA Lab Could Remain Closed Until Mid-2018 (The Washington Times – 1/4/2017)

  • The Austin Public Safety Commission approved a resolution Tuesday urging the Austin City Council to find a temporary solution within six months, which could include paying DNA scientists 150 percent above market rate to move to Austin.


Forensic Science Cuts Pose Risk to Justice, Regulator Warns (The Guardian – 1/5/2017)

  • Financial pressures could compromise quality and lead to increased risk of miscarriages of justice, says Dr Gillian Tully