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Taking the Initiative: Practitioners Who Perform Frontline Research

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2007
3 pages
Publication Series
This article presents examples of how funding by the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is being used to promote research by practitioners who work in a crime laboratory instead of at a university lab or technology firm.
In 2000, Eric Buel, who is now director of the crime lab at the Vermont Department of Public Safety, sought and received NIJ funding in order to explore promising new technologies for improving the efficiency and efficacy of the human DNA quantification test, which determines whether evidence collected from a crime scene is from a human and whether there is a sufficient amount of material to develop a DNA profile. He succeeded in developing a new human DNA quantification method that is now routinely used in his own and other crime labs. In another case, Tom Parsons and his fellow scientists at the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory received NIJ funding to explore a novel way of capturing more information from mitochondrial DNA in identifying the skeletal remains of soldiers killed in war. This research made possible the identification of the remains of several soldiers, including one killed in World War II. Heather Miller Coyle, a criminalist in the DNA unit of the Connecticut Department of Public Safety, received NIJ funding to team up with scientists at the University of New Haven in exploring technologies for plant DNA profiling that can assist in criminal investigations. She is sharing the benefits of this work with personnel in other crime labs. Four other NIJ grants that have fostered practitioner forensic research are also described. 8 notes
Date Published: October 1, 2007