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


DNA Testing of Skeleton May Prove Christopher Columbus Was Really Portugese (Forbes – 1/19/2018)

  • But a recent historical theory suggests that Columbus was not born in Genoa, Italy, and rather was a Portuguese nobleman who adopted the name when he moved to Spain — and DNA from a skeleton might prove it.


Maryland’s DNA Database Records its 6,000th hit (WMAR2 – 1/22/2018)

  • Earlier this month, scientists at the Maryland State Police Forensics Science Division forwarded information to detectives that the 6,000th positive DNA comparison through the use of Maryland’s DNA database was connected to an open 2012 robbery.


New Firearms Analysis Quantifies Matches – But Still Not as Assured as DNA (Forensic Magazine – 1/23/2018)

  • A new study undertaken by scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology proposes a new method of assessing 3-D topographical images of the minute tool marks left behind after a round is fired—and then mathematically understanding how likely one gun could be mistaken for another.


Forensic Researchers Find More Accurate Way to Estimate Age of Deceased (Science Daily – 1/23/2018)

  • Forensic researchers have found a more accurate way to assess an individual’s age at death, based on the bone mineral density of the femur. The technique could be used to help identify human remains.



New DNA Database at Rutgers-Camden to Strengthen Forensic Science (EurekAlert! – 1/23/2018)

  • In analyzing DNA mixtures, scientists will often find partial matches, so part of the determination of whether a suspect contributed to an item of evidence depends on interpretations by forensic scientists.

    The Project Research Openness for Validation with Empirical Data (PROVEDIt) database will help reduce the risk of misinterpreting the profile. The database is online at



Genetic Testing Might Have Just Explained Why Huskies’ Eyes Can Be Blue (Slate – 1/23/2018)

  • Prospective blue-eyed puppies aside, the success of this first study, now in preprint, speaks to the approach’s potential: Being able to crowdsource genotypic and phenotypic information can lead to key discoveries regarding not just eye color but also more complex traits, behaviors, and overall health.


Judging the Quality of Forensic Evidence (NIST – 1/25/2018)

  • Recently, our research group provided a short course on vapor sampling and characterization for 13 members of the judiciary. Unlike the kinds of presentations we usually give, this short course had all the components of a university-level program, complete with lectures, lab sessions and recitations.