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Top 10 Forensic Science Stories of 2013

The world of forensic science was a great place to be in 2013. As we head into the final days of December, NFSTC’s Forensic Update took a look back at some of the most interesting stories of the year. Here’s what made our list:

#10: DNA advances identify everyone from shark victims to medieval kings.Update3

DNA advances in 2013 resulted in some historical identifications:

  • New victims of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center were identified from recovered bone fragments.
  • The remains of two missing fishermen found inside a tiger shark were positively identified, a rare occurrence as the shark’s highly acidic stomach rapidly destroys biological material.
  • On a lighter note, King Richard III, killed in 1485, was discovered under a car park in Leicester and identified using DNA from his very grandnephew.

#9: The blowflies are coming…north!

A northern migration of blowflies is causing scientists and investigators some concern. As a stopwatch for post-mortem intervals, the blowfly lifecycle is well understood, but as the bugs adjust to their new climate, scientists are scratching their heads as to the possible impact on investigations. Check out what National Geographic has to say about blowflies.

#8: National Commission on Forensic ScienceUpdate1

The National Commission on Forensic Science was created by DOJ and NIST as part of a new initiative to strengthen and enhance the practice of forensic science. Read the press release to learn more about the Commission.

#7: Fingerprint science hits the kitchen

Fingerprint analysis went into the kitchen in 2013. Advances include using turmeric for analyzing prints and new methods for collecting prints from smooth-skinned foods like apples and tomatoes. Hey bad buys, keep your mitts off the fruit.

#6: Crime labs of the future

NIST released a comprehensive Guide for Building 21st Century Crime Labs – detailing the nuts and bolts of creating labs that integrate the latest and greatest in equipment, efficiency, and sustainability.  Ready to renovate? Get the guide at NIST.gov.

#5: The forensic lab goes mobile

Significant technology advances in rapid DNA analysis, hand-held fingerprint drug testing, portable drug detection, biometrics systems, and advanced facial recognition can now take lab work into the field.

#4: Biological evidence: to freeze or not to freeze…Update4

The Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook released by NIST and the National Institute of Justice outlines the do’s and don’ts of storing biological evidence. Get it at NIST publications online.

#3: Supreme Court rules DNA can be collected from arrestees

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that police can collect DNA from arrestees. As written, the DNA can be used only to identify the suspect in custody, not as an investigative tool. Ongoing effects of this ruling have yet to be determined.

#2: The A to Z of CSICrime-Scene-Investigation_Page_001

NFSTC released the updated Crime Scene Investigation Guide – 170 pages of detailed how-to for responding to crime scenes. More than 8,000 copies of the expanded guide have been downloaded. Before you head out to that next scene, get your fresh copy at NFSTC.org

#1: Forensic science now has… its own week!

It’s about time forensic science had its own week!  The very first National Forensic Science Week was held in August, and it was a smashing success. You can find a recap of the events on our website and we look forward to next year.

Will 2014 top these stories? Tune in to NFSTC’s Forensic Update and subscribe to our channels to get all the forensic science scoop next year.

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