Alumna Sandra Rodriguez Cruz Publishes Thesis Research in PLOS ONE
Rodriguez Cruz received her Master of Science in Forensic Science from UC Davis in 2014. Two years later, she joined her thesis chair, Dr. Robert Rice, and her thesis advisor, Dr. Dietmar Kultz, in developing a manuscript detailing the research she conducted as part of her M.S. degree program. The manuscript was published in PLOS One on May 4th, 2017.
UC Davis Researchers Develop Novel Applicator for Touch DNA Collection
Forensic Science Graduate Program alumna Irina Kirgiz, M.S., and DNA Adviser Cassandra Calloway, Ph.D., have developed a novel applicator using FTA paper to increase the efficiency of the collection of touch DNA from crime scenes. Kirgiz and Calloway have filed a patent for the applicator through the University of California. The applicator was shown to collect twice as much DNA from non-porous surfaces compared to conventional collection swabs.
Forensic Sciences Foundation
Jan S. Bashinski Criminalistics Graduate Thesis Assistant Grant Winner
Erin A. Laurie, M.S.
The Forensic Science Graduate Program is proud to announce that graduate student Erin A. Laurie was awarded the 2014-2015 Jan S. Bashinski Criminalistics Graduate Thesis Assistance Grant from the Forensic Science Foundation for her paper, Characterizing Heteroplasmy Frequencies in the mtDNA Profiles of Human Head Hair, Pubic Hair, and Buccal Samples. See the award details on the American Academy of Forensic Sciences website.
National Geographic Magazine: The Real CSI
National Geographic Magazine, July 2016 Issue
COVER: The Real CSI. The New Science of Solving Crime
Criminal forensics has been accused of being more craft than science. Can it shake that reputation?
Article: Veronique Greenwood
Photography: Max Aguilera-Hellweg
To read the special issue, visit National Geographic Magazine online.
New Courses in Development
Forensic Toxicology – Concepts, Methods, and Interpretation
Winter Quarter 2017
In this course, students will follow a driving under the influence (DUI) case from arrest, to the laboratory, and into the courtroom to examine a wide range of issues and concepts routinely encountered by forensic toxicologists. Some of the topics discussed in the course will include:
- DUI law and history
- Epidemiology of alcohol, drugs, and driving
- Biological sample collection, storage, and preservation
- Analysis of volatiles by headspace gas chromatography
- Presumptive screening methods in forensic toxicology
- Extraction methods in forensic toxicology
- Chromatography and instrumentation in forensic toxicology
- Quality assurance in forensic toxicology
- Case interpretation and courtroom testimony
Upon completion of this course, students should understand the nature of the analytical work performed in a forensic toxicology laboratory and some of the considerations involved in the interpretation of toxicology results.
Winter Quarter 2017
Introduction to basic statistical analysis, sampling and measurement uncertainty in forensic disciplines other than DNA. Students will use Ishikawa diagrams, calibration certificates, quality control data, descriptive statistics and confidence intervals for estimation of overall measurement uncertainty. This course will also include discussion of the most common analytical sampling plans as well as review of less common Bayesian methods.
Spring Quarter 2017
Exploration of the analytical methods associated with the identification and quantification of ethanol in various matrices. Absorption, metabolism and elimination of ethanol in the body. Discussion of first order kinetics related to elimination for blood alcohol content extrapolation purposes. Common legal challenges associated with analytical results will be explored.
Science Magazine Publishes Special Issue on Forensic Science
Science: 03/11/2016, Vol 351 Issue 6278
COVER: Bullets fired from the same pistol by the Prince George’s County Police Department, in Maryland, show similar but not identical markings—an example of the ambiguity that plagues much crime-scene evidence. The bullets were fired as part of a research effort to bring greater rigor to forensic analysis, conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Photo: Matthew Rakola
To access the full-text articles, visit the online issue.
New Courses Added to Curriculum
Forensic Population Genetics
This graduate course will cover advanced topics in population genetics, including:
- STR typing, data collection and analysis
- Hardy-Weinberg principle and linkage disequilibrium
- Population structure, genetic drift and migration
- Mutation and selection
- Effects of inbreeding on genotypic frequencies
- Calculation of paternity and kinship statistics
- DNA profile frequency estimates and math probabilities
- Probabilistic genotyping and MCMC methods for estimating DNA mixture components and likelihood ratios
Food Forensics—The Authenication of Food and its Regional Origins
Food fraud is a significant food risk that is gaining recognition and concern. Food adulteration adversely affects both individuals and national economies and its annual global scope is estimated to be about 40-50 billion dollars! Food fraud is a criminal and intentional act that can either stem from economical motivations or from a desire to cause harm to individuals, societies and nations. Regardless of its cause, and in addition to its economic implications, food adulteration poses a tangible risk to public health and has the potential to be linked to bio- and other types of terrorism with implications on national and global security. A key to success in effectively addressing the challenges that are presented by food fraud requires in-depth understanding in the multidisciplinary scientific fields of food authentication and identification of the regional origin of foods.
This graduate studies course will introduce and discuss in depth the multifaceted nature of food fraud and the broad array of analytical approaches, concepts and tools that can be used in understanding, identifying and deterring food fraud. The course will introduce and discuss in detail the scientific principles and applicable approaches pertinent to the identification of the regional origin of food (and agricultural products). The course will present an integrated approach to food authentication that is based on addressing and quantifying the regional “fingerprints,” inherent chemical composition, physic-chemical properties and product-specific attributes of foods and agricultural products. The course allows students to develop the knowledge base that is required in order to effectively address and become involved in research and professional activities related to food fraud and food authentication. Considering the scope and implications of food fraud, the course will contribute significantly to the relevance and competitiveness of the curriculum of the Forensic Science Master of Science Program.