Category Archives: Forensic DNA

Journal articles relating to forensic DNA including disaster victim identification.

Model forensic science

Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences Published online: 05 Apr 2016

This article provides an explanation of the duties and responsibilities owed by forensic practitioners (and other expert witnesses) when preparing for and presenting evidence in criminal proceedings. It is written in the shadow of reports by the National Academy of Sciences (US), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (US), the Scottish Fingerprint Inquiry and a recent publication entitled ‘How to cross-examine forensic scientists: A guide for Lawyers’. The article examines potential responses to questions focused on the need for scientific research, validation, uncertainties, limitations and error, contextual bias and the way expert opinions are expressed in reports and oral testimony. Responses and the discussion is developed around thematics such as disclosure, transparency, epistemic modesty and impartiality derived from modern admissibility and procedure rules, codes of conduct, ethical and professional responsibilities and employment contracts. The article explains why forensic practitioners must respond to the rules and expectations of adversarial legal institutions. Simultaneously, in line with accusatorial principles, it suggests that forensic practitioners employed by the state ought to conduct themselves as model forensic scientists.

View the fulltext (QH staff only)

Developing tailored planning models for forensic organisations

Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences Published online: 12 Apr 2016

Forensic laboratories traditionally focus on the development of scientific excellence to gain and maintain expertise and capability for their core purpose with respect to the provision of sound, impartial analysis of potential evidence, while managing increasingly tight budgets and growing demand. One downside to this primary focus is the lower prioritisation afforded to strategic and operational planning, despite its potential to substantially improve service delivery and enhance efficiency. Here, we focus on traditional planning models used by forensic laboratories and their shortfalls, and we examine options for improvement. Contemporary planning methodologies are assessed for their applicability and one improved planning model is developed and its potential benefits are evaluated.

View the fulltext (QH staff only)

Science [Special Issue – Forensics]

Table of Contents  |  Vol 351 Issue 6278 11 March 2016

Click here to request a copy/copies of any of the articles (QH Staff only)

Clues from the ashes

Science  11 Mar 2016: Vol. 351, Issue 6278, pp. 1141-1143 Lizzie Wade

The Mexican government’s official story is that the bodies of 43 students who went missing in 2014 were burned at a dump outside the town of Cocula in the state of Guerrero. But José Torero, an internationally known fire investigator at the University of Queensland, St. Lucia, in Brisbane, Australia, says the evidence doesn’t add up. Burning so many bodies completely would have required a massive amount of energy, he says. Torero is trying to bring more science to the field of fire investigations; many other analysts set out to prove an established theory of a crime, rather than ruling out hypotheses with the help of models and experiments, as Torero does, one his colleagues says.

Request the source article from Information & Research Services (QH Staff only)

A trail of microbes

Science  11 Mar 2016: Vol. 351, Issue 6278, pp. 1136-1137 Kai Kupferschmidt

Humans carry a highly personal mix of hundreds of bacterial species that live in and on their bodies, and they shed these bacteria wherever they go. Some scientists think analyzing the molecular signature from these microbiomes might one day be used to place someone at a crime scene. The research field is still in its infancy, and some doubt that microbiomes are so individual that they can distinguish every human being. But even if they can’t uniquely identify a person, the data could be used to build up a picture of an unknown suspect because the microbiome varies by gender, age, origin, and lifestyle.

Request the source article from Information & Research Services (QH Staff only)

How hair can reveal a history

Science  11 Mar 2016:  Vol. 351, Issue 6278, pp. 1134 Hanae Armitage, Nala Rogers

Forensic hair analysis has developed a bad reputation. The technique has traditionally relied on traits such as color, thickness, and curvature to link a suspect to a crime scene. But an ongoing reanalysis of old cases by the U.S. Department of Justice found that analysts have often overstated their case in the courtroom. Now, sophisticated analytical techniques are giving hair a new role in forensics. The goal is no longer matching a suspect to a crime scene, but using hair to infer physical characteristics or even the travel history of an unknown criminal or victim.

Request the source article from Information & Research Services (QH Staff only)

When DNA is lying

Science  11 Mar 2016: Vol. 351, Issue 6278, pp. 1133-1136 Douglas Starr

Greg Hampikian, who holds joint appointments in biology and criminal justice at Boise State University and heads the Idaho Innocence Project, has helped free innocent people from prison for more than 20 years by exploiting the power of DNA forensics—or by exposing its pitfalls. DNA evidence is virtually unassailable, and it has helped exonerate hundreds of wrongly convicted people. But new techniques make it possible to detect DNA at levels hundreds or even thousands of times lower than 30 years ago. This heightened sensitivity can create false positives and land innocent people in jail.

Request the source article from Information & Research Services (QH Staff only)