This article presents an overview of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) research and development funding that is strengthening the scientific foundations of various forensic disciplines; expanded discussions are presented on research in the analysis of carpet fibers as well as improvement in how laboratories help solve cases.
NIJ invests in both basic and applied research in forensic science, with the goal of strengthening the science by developing highly discriminating, accurate, reliable, cost-effective, and rapid methods for identifying, analyzing, and interpreting physical evidence. An example of such research is the analysis of carpet fibers collected from crime scenes in order to determine whether they come from the same manufacturer as fibers found on articles possessed or worn by a suspect. This analysis involves a comparison of the shape, color, and composition of fibers in order to determine whether they may have been transferred from the suspect to the crime scene. Another example of NIJ projects in forensic sciences involves improvement in how laboratories help solve cases. This includes funding for the creation of a database at Mercyhurst University (Erie, PA) that contains a database with measurement of the human body based on over 44,000 radiograph images from nearly 10,000 children. This is important information in estimating children's age at death.
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