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


Siblings Can Have Surprisingly Different DNA Ancestry. Here’s Why. (National Geographic – 3/23/2018)

  • Even twins can get noticeably different results from genetic ancestry tests, due to a biological process called genetic recombination.


Oregon Appeals Court to Hear Case Challenging Fingerprint Science (OPB – 3/23/2018)

  • On Friday in Salem, the Oregon Court of Appeals is set to hear Cannon’s appeal. The case could change the way fingerprint evidence is presented in Oregon’s courts, or whether it should be allowed at all.


Scientists Have Sequenced 5 New Neanderthal Genomes, Showing Their Lives During the Final Years (Tech Times – 3/23/2018)

  • Scientists have sequenced the genomes of five new Neanderthal tribes. This gives scientists an idea about how Neanderthals lived. This also tells scientists when humans and Neanderthals began to interbreed.


Forensics, DNA…Emojis? Why Courts Need Experts to Interpret a Winky Face (The Sydney Morning Herald – 3/25/2018)

  • The legal system is increasingly being asked to interpret what the symbols mean, particularly when an alleged crime has been committed and a text message (with an emoji) might end up being used as evidence.



Oldest Human DNA from Africa Reveals Clues About a Mysterious Ancient Culture (LiveScience – 3/27/2018)

  • Burials from a cave in Morocco have yielded the oldest human DNA evidence yet from Africa, offering new insight into Stone Age migrations.


SDPD Crime Lab Using DNA from Ammunition to Link Suspects to Crimes (NBC 7 – 3/27/2018)

  • For years one of the most common pieces of evidence left at the scene of a major crime shell casings have not been tested for DNA because of the extreme heat created by the ballistic explosion. But DNA analysis has become more sensitive, so SD Crime Lab technicians tested 1000 shell casings recovered from crime scenes and got useable DNA profiles from 25% of them.


He Spent 23 Years in Prison Before DNA Exonerated Him. Now He’s Back Working for the White Sox. (The Washington Post – 3/27/2018)

  • Nevest Coleman was happy to be working again for the Chicago White Sox, and his old pals with the team were thrilled to have him back. In the 24 years between his stints as a grounds crew member, the 49-year-old was convicted of horrific crimes he didn’t commit, and he spent well over two decades behind bars before being exonerated by DNA evidence.


How Do Forensic Engineers Investigate Bridge Collapses, Like the One in Miami? (City Metric – 3/28/2018)

  • On 15 March, a 950-ton partially assembled pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami suddenly collapsed onto the busy highway below, killing six people and seriously injuring nine. Forensic engineers are taking centre stage in the ongoing investigation to find out what happened and why – and, crucially, to learn how to prevent similar tragedies in the future.


Divided by DNA: The Uneasy Relationship Between Archaeology and Ancient Genomics (Nature – 3/28/2018)

  • Two fields in the midst of a technological revolution are struggling to reconcile their views of the past.


Philly Forensic Scientist Helps Bust Crimes and Stereotypes (The Inquirer – 3/28/2018)


Gov. Justice Signs DNA Testing Bill (The Herald-Dispatch – 3/29/2018)

  • Gov. Jim Justice on Wednesday signed a bill into law that intends to reduce the processing time of DNA lab tests, especially in cases of sexual assault.

    The bill will allow the West Virginia State Police to contract with the Marshall University Forensic Science Center to process lab work related to the testing of offender samples for the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and DNA testing in criminal paternity cases, criminal casework and identification of human remains. It also sets out parameters by which law enforcement and correctional officers can use reasonable force to obtain DNA samples and allows for the collection of non-blood sampling of DNA (mouth swabs).



13,000-Year-Old Human Footprints Found – Oldest Yet From North America (National Geographic – 3/29/2018)

  • Leading theories support the idea that prehistoric Americans first populated Alaska and may have migrated south along the coast.