In this fourth episode of the 2021 National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) R&D and Beyond mini-season in NIJ’s Just Science Podcast series, an interview is conducted with Tracey Johnson, a physical scientist and program manager in NIJ’s Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences, who discusses the NIJ Biology and DNA research portfolio.
Background information for the interview notes Tracey Johnson is a 20-year veteran in the field of forensic DNA analysis and is familiar with the needs and gaps in this discipline. In this interview, she discusses her career path, the intersection of forensics and other scientific disciplines, and the features of the NIJ Biology and DNA research portfolio. This portfolio focuses on biological research that relates to what DNA tells the researcher about a person’s physical characteristics that in combination distinguish the person from any other person. Forensic DNA research is interested in DNA collection and analysis to identify persons present and engaged in physical activities at a crime scene during the commission of the crime. Topics discussed in the interview include cooperation between scientists in the biological field relevant to DNA detection and analysis and researchers in forensic science interested in expanding the ability to identify and analyze DNA in identifying criminals. Other topics included in the interview are repository DNA databases, software relevant to DNA analysis, familial DNA searching, body fluid identification, and transferring research into practice.