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!




We May Be Entering a New Era for Using Consumer Genetic Information to Solve Crime (Slate – 11/8/2019)

  • A police detective says he got a warrant to search the entirety of a database with the DNA profiles of nearly 1 million people.



The Technical Leader – Unique Challenges for People in a Unique Position (Science 2.0 – 11/9/2019)

  • In my executive coaching practice, I’ve worked with several technical leaders seeking to build their leadership and managerial skills. As a result, I’ve come to appreciate the unique challenges and opportunities they face.


The Drug Chemistry White Box Study – An Interview with Jeremy Triplett (Science 2.0 – 11/9/2019)

  • A fascinating development has emerged in the forensic testing of controlled substances. A “white box” study aimed at establishing error rates for this commonly-practiced forensic discipline is currently underway. Below is my interview with the man who conceived the study, Jeremy Triplett.


Recovering Human Remains: Forensic Anthropologists Remember California’s Camp Fire (KUNR Public Radio – 11/8/2019)

  • November 8, 2019 marks the 1-year anniversary of the start of the Camp Fire in California, the most destructive and deadliest fire the state has ever experienced. A year ago, the University of Nevada, Reno’s forensic anthropology team was called on to help identify human remains. KUNR’s Stephanie Serrano sat down with Marin Pilloud and Kyra Stull who assisted a team of doctoral students, volunteering their expertise and time in Paradise.


Privacy and DNA Tests (NPR – 11/9/2019)

  • NPR’s Scott Simon speaks to New York University law professor Erin Murphy about privacy issues surrounding popular DNA and ancestry tests.


Cold Case Cop Lectures on Forensic Crime Solving (The Independent – 11/9/2019)

  • Pawtucket Police Det. Susan Cormier is determined to change the perception surrounding cold cases. It’s not Sherlock Holmes smoking a pipe while investigating a scene with a magnifying glass and it’s not as simple as making an arrest and then moving onto the next case.



The Australian Peering into the Mind of America’s Worst Serial Killer (The Sydney Morning Herald – 11/10/2019)

  • Williamson, 42, is a senior official at the US Department of Justice and serves as a liaison to a special FBI unit for violent crimes. Her focus is cracking open cold cases – specifically murders and sexual assaults – that have remained unsolved for many years.



Mexico Uncovers 10 More Bodies from Mass Grave in Sonora (ABC News – 11/10/2019)

  • Forensic scientists in the Mexican state of Sonora have recovered 10 bodies from mass graves near a beach town, raising the total number of bodies and skeletons found in the area since October to 52



Down to the Body Farm: Unlocking the Forensic Secrets of Decaying Corpses (Undark – 11/11/2019)

  • Researchers at outdoor “body farms” look to microbes of human decay to help identify corpses and pinpoint time of death.



How Decoding African DNA Could Help Fight Disease (BBC News – 11/12/2019)

  • Black Africans are at a disadvantage when it comes to drug treatments because they represent only 2% of the genetic samples used for pharmaceutical research, but a new Nigeria-based genomics company wants to change that.


DNA Just One of More than 1 Million Possible ‘Genetic Molecules’, Scientists Find (Live Science – 11/12/2019)

  • Scientists used a computer program to uncover more than 1 million molecules that could potentially store genetic information, just like DNA.


Bode Technology Names New Director of Forensic Genealogy (CISION – 11/12/2019)

  • Bode Technology (Bode), a leading provider of forensic DNA services, welcomed their new Director of Forensic Genealogy, Melinde Lutz Byrne, to the organization. Byrne’s team will strengthen efforts in expanding Bode’s Forensic Genealogy Service (FGS) to ultimately provide investigative leads to law enforcement through proven genealogy and DNA analysis methods.


Officials Using DNA, Genetic Genealogy to ID Woman Found Slain in Ditch in 1976 (WSB-TV Atlanta – 11/12/2019)

  • Now, 43 years later, Grundy County Coroner John Callahan’s office is using the latest technology, including genetic genealogy, in an attempt to bring some closure to the case.


EFF Sues DHS to Obtain Information About the Agency’s Use of Rapid DNA Testing on Migrant Families at the Border (EFF – 11/12/2019)

  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today to obtain information that will shine a light on the agency’s use of Rapid DNA technology on migrant families at the border to verify biological parent-child relationships.


Forensic Investigations: A Step Beyond Fingerprints (Engineering and Technology – 11/13/2019)

  • DNA phenotyping and virtual autopsies – what are they and how are they, and other new techniques, being used to unravel the secrets of crime scenes?


Barnacles Are a Clock for the Dead (Hakai Magazine – 11/13/2019)

  • Barnacles adhere to everything from rocks and logs to shoes and clothes, giving forensic scientists a way to tell how long a body has been in the water.


Advances in Touch DNA Helps Warm Some Cold Cases (Spectrum Local News – 11/13/2019)

  • The advances in “touch DNA” technology is making it possible for police to reopen some cold cases.

    The Crime Lab in Quantico, Virginia analyzes DNA from around the country and from our area. Lab technicians examine touch DNA, an advanced form of DNA testing.


In France, It’s Illegal for Consumers to Order a DNA Spit Kit. Activists are Fighting Over Lifting the Ban (STAT – 11/14/2019)

  • The French ban on direct-to-consumer genetic testing is part of the country’s bioethics laws, which legislators are supposed to revise every seven years. When those discussions got underway earlier this year, some geneticists expected the National Assembly to relax the rules about commercial DNA analysis. It didn’t. Now, Jovanovic-Floricourt and the other genetics enthusiasts in her education and advocacy group, DNA Pass, are agitating more and more to get some of these tests legalized, contacting lawmakers, chatting up scientists, promising a more vociferous campaign than they’ve waged before.


Forensic Scientists Reveal Secrets that Pigs Took to the Grave in Porirua (Stuff – 11/14/2019)

Database to Help Police Investigate Crime is Underway in Bahrain (Zawya – 11/14/2019)

  • The ministry said it was adopting more of such techniques in solving crimes in the country