Bio-Molecular Forensic Science Careers. Jack Ballantyne Department of Chemistry National Center for Forensic Science

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1 Bio-Molecular Forensic Science Careers Jack Ballantyne Department of Chemistry National Center for Forensic Science

2 Bio-Molecular Forensic Science Biology (genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology) applied to (i) the solution of certain problems that arise in connection with the administration of justice or (ii) assisting in the human identification process (missing persons) it is science exercised in the service of the law

3 Biological Evidence Transfer scene victim perpetrator

4 Nuclear DNA = 3 x 10 9 bp 3200 Mb 99.9% of the DNA sequence is the same, and therefore 0.1% differs, between individuals #Variable sites = 3 million #Genotypes = 2 3million Therefore, the DNA of no two individuals is the same (with the exception of identical twins)

5 DNA, for example, frankly doesn t care if you did it. DNA doesn t care if you didn t do it. DNA knows exactly who you, your parents, and your children are, but has no opinion about it and no interest in being a friend or getting your votes. DNA knows it was you who left seminal fluid in someone, but is neither judgmental nor voyeuristic about how or why that deposit might have occurred. So I am far more inclined to trust DNA than the defendant on the witness stand, and it is a shame that DNA is too busy working crimes and pedigree disputes to reconstruct the history of the United States. If DNA had the time, I suspect we would find that most of what we presently believe about the past is tainted, perhaps shockingly so. Patricia Cornwall, 1991 (Isle of Dogs)

6 we re stuck with our genes!

7 Forensic Science Forensic science plays a crucial role in the criminal justice system. As an applied science, it requires a strong foundation in the natural sciences and the development of practical skills in the application of these sciences to a particular discipline. A forensic scientist must be capable of integrating knowledge and skills in the examination, analysis, interpretation, reporting, and testimonial support of physical evidence.

8 Forensic Scientists Most of the nation s practicing forensic scientists are employed in crime laboratories, usually associated with law enforcement or other governmental agencies. Forensic scientists come to the profession with diverse undergraduate science degrees. They may also have to go on to earn graduate degrees.

9 Sources of Employment Government entities may have personnel or hiring processes which are driven by civil service regulations or collective bargaining agreements specific to the branch of government, state or locality. Private laboratories have their own unique hiring practices. The hiring process may well include written and practical tests, phone interviews, and one-on-one personal interviews or interviews conducted by a panel. New employees may be hired provisionally or go through a probationary period. Applicants should be aware that provisional employment offers may be revoked either before or after reporting for duty. During many or all of these steps, the candidate may be graded.

10 Personal Characteristics Because forensic science is part of the criminal justice system, personal honesty, integrity, and scientific objectivity are paramount. Those seeking careers in this field should be aware that background checks similar to those required for law enforcement officers are likely to be a condition of employment.

11 Academic Qualifications Forensic scientists need to have a strong fundamental background in the natural sciences. For example, new hires in forensic science laboratories performing analyses of drugs, DNA, trace, and in toxicology typically will have a degrees in chemistry, biochemistry, biology or forensic science from an accredited institution.

12 Professional Skill Set Critical thinking (quantitative reasoning and problemsolving) Decision-making Good laboratory technique practices Awareness of laboratory safety Observation and attention to detail Computer proficiency Interpersonal skills Public speaking Oral and written communication Time management Prioritization of tasks

13 Model Career Path for Forensic Scientists

14 We shall never cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. T. S. Eliot Thank you for your attention!

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