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Techniques & Tools Forensics, Spectroscopy, Microscopy, Gas Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry

Forensic Myths and Methods

Everyone’s a forensics expert – or so our viewing habits have led us to believe. On both the small and silver screens, DNA evidence has long been presented as the fulcrum on which a case balances – the final nail in the coffin of guilt. The result of this altered reality? Illogical or inadequate questioning from lawyers and unrealistic expectations from juries...

Far from being the climactic clincher in murder trials, forensic science is complex and laborious – and is often put to use in far more prosaic settings than the criminal court. Certainly, for forensic specialists, the reality is far more grit than glamor, with work more likely being characterized by delays, frustration and contamination – an estimated 300,000 backlogged cases across the USA alone is cause for concern.

With scope for improvement, is it time for analytical scientists to rise to the challenge? Christopher Palenik (Vice President and Senior Research Microscopist at Microtrace) and Glen Jackson (Professor of Forensic and Investigative Science at West Virginia University) talk about the methods and the myths in forensics – and the changing role of analytical science.

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About the Authors

Glen Jackson

Glen Jackson is Professor of Forensic and Investigative Science at West Virginia University, USA.


Christopher Palenik

Christopher Palenik is Vice President and Senior Research Microscopist at Microtrace, Illinois, USA.

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