This episode seven of the Identification season of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Just Science podcast series is an audio interview with Carlos Gutierrez, a lecturer at Chaminade University of Honolulu, who describes his research in the new field of Forensic Microanthropology.
Gutierrez's professional background began as a police officer in Chile, where he worked in the forensic lab. After about 10 years of this work, he studied forensic science in a number of countries, including the United States. When asked to compare forensic science developments in various countries, he credits the evolution of adversarial court procedures as an incentive for improving the collection and forensic analysis of evidence, since pressure is on crime investigators and prosecutors to provide sufficient and accurate forensic analysis of evidence in order to persuade courts that defendants presumed innocent are found guilty based on the accuracy and persuasiveness of the evidence. Coming from Latin America, Gutierrez was drawn to the identification of forensic analysis of the bones of unidentified deceased humans and animals, He was drawn to this forensics field due to the relatively high proportion of missing persons in Latin American countries. His research has focused on the study of bones of animals commonly found in various areas and comparing them to human bones, since the first step in bone analysis for identification is to determine whether a discovered bone is from an animal or human. The intent is to increase the accuracy of analysis and reduce the amount of time and cost required to determine whether a bone or bone fragment is animal or human. The next task is to reduce the time and cost of conducting DNA analysis of human bone. This forensic enterprise is known as Microanthropology.