Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More on Keynote Session

by blogger jgl

Following Sen. Biden was the US Senate Sgt. at Arms Terrance Gainer. He was a lively fellow, even volunteering to entertain the crowd during some technical difficulties. Sgt. at Arms Gainer is an experienced law man; it was interesting to hear his take on what was currently important in forensic science.

He began by talking about low copy number (or touch) DNA analysis. He was very impressed with the potential for recovering DNA from triggers, steering wheels, etc. I'm still wondering how well this works in the real world. It looks like most researchers get mixed results.

He also mentioned the DNA initiative and the DNA backlog that needs to be resolved.

He mentioned the need for proper training of law enforcement personnel, especially in rural areas. This was good to hear since communication between the evidence collectors and lab scientists is needed in the field. It's probably a surprise to much of the outside world that it is not one person taking samples from the cradle to the grave (like on CSI). As a lab scientist, I know very little about the training and thought processes of officers in the field and I'm sure the officers have a limited knowledge of the scientists as well.

Mr. Gainer also touched on some new methods, like familial searches, and it was good to hear the necessary caution against rights to privacy of citizens.

He capped it off by repeating Sen. Biden's comment that it is now time to expand funding of forensics beyond DNA to other areas of the lab (applause).


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