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!





An Unidentified Ancient Human Lives on in Modern Genes (INVERSE – 12/27/2020)

  • In a study published in August, researchers analyzed human DNA using a brand-new method and, in doing so, they were able to unearth parts of the DNA that came from other species.

    Using a method called the “ancestral recombination graph” algorithm, dubbed ARGweaver-D, the study team discovered that the Denisovans possessed a genome that contained one percent of DNA from an unknown distant relative.




Local Man’s Work with FBI Helps Crack Green Bay Cold Case, Colleagues Say (NBC26 – 12/27/2020)

  • In this article FBI attorney, Steve Kramer speaks out for the first time and hear from those who say they’ve worked closely with him to crack the case of one of the most notorious serial killers in U.S. history and Green Bay’s oldest cold case.



Map: Where Sexual Assault Forensic Exams are Available in Your State (NBC News – 12/28/2020)

  • There is a national shortage of nurses and doctors trained to conduct sexual assault forensic exams. NBC News mapped where they are provided in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. and how each structures its programs, using the best available data for each state.



Why are There so Many Jane Does Still Unidentifed? A Forensic Genealogist Weighs In (Oxygen – 1/3/2021)

  • But if this technique has proven so useful, already identifying victims and solving murders in the last several years, why are there so many Jane and John Does still out there?

    Well, part of the reason is there just isn’t enough DNA data to work with. Despite more people opting in to share their profile on the genealogy website GEDmatch, which allows law enforcement to access its data to identify remains, McGee explained there are not always enough profiles to compare to help with every case.

    Another roadblock to identifying people in Doe cases can be the amount of work and the costly expense tied to this type of science and research for law enforcement agencies.



Washoe County Crime Lab Eliminates DNA Backlog (Forensic – 1/4/2021)

  • During the coronavirus pandemic the Forensic Science Division outsourced some DNA evidence, plus created a modified schedule that allowed for social distancing and allowed for scientists to work seven days per week. Additionally, the Forensic Biology Unit implemented a self-imposed 120-day turnaround for all DNA cases needing testing. The State of Nevada requires a 120-day turnaround for sexual assault kits.



Houston Forensic Science Center Adopts Rapid DNA as Crime Nearly Doubles (Forensic – 1/4/2021)

  • Last week, board members of the Houston Forensic Science Center (HFSC) met in a special meeting where they approved the acquisition of a ThermoFisher RapidHIT ID system to help more quickly solve these increasing crimes.

    The board’s approval in its special session of the $246,380 three-year agreement for the will allow HFSC to provide some DNA results to investigators in six hours or less, an important development that could help the Houston Police Department battle the rise in violent crime. It currently takes about 24 hours to get a DNA result, and that is when a sample is pushed through the lab independently as part of an urgent or “rush” request.