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In the final episode of the DNA season, Just Science interviews Jayann Sepich, co-founder of the non-profit organization DNA Saves, about lawfully owed arrestee DNA. 

In 2003, 22-year-old Katie Sepich was raped and murdered within five blocks of her home in New Mexico. Using skin and blood found under her fingernails, investigators were able to produce a full DNA profile and uploaded it to CODIS. Her killer was identified three years later. Now, in 2019, her mother Jayann Sepich continues to advocate for lawfully owed DNA. Listen along as she discusses expanding the DNA Database and the importance of arrestee DNA collection in this episode of Just Science.  

Some content in this podcast may be considered sensitive and may evoke emotional responses, or may not be appropriate for younger audiences. 

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

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Jayann Sepich’s daughter, Katie, was a twenty-two-year-old graduate student when she was brutally raped and murdered.  The only evidence found was DNA, but no match resulted in the national forensic DNA database.  As a result Jayann has made it her mission to advocate for the expansion of DNA evidence and databases in the United States, and internationally.  Ms. Sepich has testified more than forty times before state legislative committees in the US, as well as twice before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary. To date thirty-one US states have passed legislation to mandate arrestee DNA testing.  As a result of her advocacy, the United States Congress passed “The Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act” in 2012 to help fund DNA databases.

The Sepich family established DNA Saves, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating policy makers and the public about the power of DNA databases and evidence.  DNA Saves has submitted amicus briefs in four US court cases, including Maryland v King, which was heard by the United States Supreme Court, upholding the constitutionality of arrestee DNA databases.

Ms. Sepich passionately believes that through the power of DNA crimes will be solved sooner, crimes will be prevented, lives will be saved and families will be spared the pain of burying a much loved child. 


Additional Resources:

FTCoE DNA Reports and Webinars
DNA Saves Website

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In episode seven of the DNA season, Just Science interviews Molly Hall, an examiner for the United States Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory, about their transition to a Direct-to-DNA approach to processing sexual assault kits.  

The United States Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory acts as the true crime lab for the entire Department of Defense and serves all branches of the military. With roughly 2,000 sexual assault kits being submitted per year, they needed to find a way to efficiently process these kits without being bogged down by screening or an influx in submissions. Listen along as Molly Hall discusses Sexual Assault Kit processing and why their lab made the switch to a Direct-to-DNA approach in this episode of Just Science. 

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

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Molly Hall has fourteen years of experience as an examiner for the United States Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory. In 2004, she was hired as a Latent Print Examiner and worked strictly latent print cases for ten years. She then transitioned to the DNA Branch, completed training as a Forensic Biologist, and is now working both latent print and DNA analyses in forensic casework. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Science and obtained her Master of Science degree in Forensic Science from the University of Florida. Molly has provided training in the latent print discipline during numerous conferences and to schools, law enforcement agencies, and Department of Defense agencies around the world. She is an IAI Certified Latent Print and Footwear Examiner and is currently serving as the chairperson for the DNA/Forensic Biology subcommittee of the IAI.


Additional Resources:

FTCoE DNA Reports and Webinars

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In episode six of the DNA season, Just Science interviews Leslie Parke and Jamie Haas of Signature Science, a private DNA laboratory based in Austin, Texas, about increasing workflow efficiency in their lab. 

From twenty cases a month to thousands of cases per year, Signature Science has shown significant growth in their lab’s capacity. By introducing automation and eliminating unnecessary steps in the DNA analysis process, Parke and Haas have proven that there are always ways to improve the efficiency of a forensic laboratory. Listen along as they discuss the benefits of eliminating serological testing and the impact that automation has had on their lab in this episode of Just Science. 

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

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Leslie Parke, Director of the Forensic DNA Laboratory at Signature Science, LLC in Austin, Texas. She took the role of Director last year after serving as the Quality Assurance Manager since the laboratory’s inception in 2012. She is a is a member of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, a credentialed Project Management Professional (PMP) through the Project Management Institute [certification #1406178, since 2011] and a Certified Quality Auditor through the American Society of Quality [certificate #21493, since 1999]. She also is a Certified Scrum Master. She has over 30 years of experience in the environmental consulting business, over 20 years as the project manager of multi-million dollar, multi-disciplinary federal government contracts, and is Principal Scientist at Signature Science.

Jamie Haas, the backup Technical Leader who supports and advances the technical progress and upgrades within the laboratory. She has been involved in every validation effort since our accreditation, and was recently promoted to staff supervisor over the forensic analysts. Prior to joining the forensic practice, she worked on classified, cutting edge research and development projects for the Federal Government focused on improving hDNA testing methodology. She attend the week long STRmix training then proivded a two and a half day internal training on STRmix. She has been instrumental in helping augment our capabilities and ensuring the best practices are applied consistently. 


Additional Resources:

FTCoE DNA Reports and Webinars

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In the last episode of Just Science, Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter shared her techniques for creating family trees and discussed the resolution of her first cold case. In episode five of the DNA season, we continue that conversation.  

In February 2017, Forensic Magazine published an article detailing the Bear Brook Murders, an abandoned girl, and Rae-Venter’s involvement in the resolution of a cold case that tied them all together. One month later, she was contacted by investigator Paul Holes and was on the hunt yet again. Listen along as she discusses building a profile and explains how she used investigative genetic genealogy to identify the Golden State Killer.   

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

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Barbara Rae-Venter is a genetic genealogist has been a volunteer Search Angel with DNAAdoption.org and has helped adopted people find their genetic parents. Barbara Rae-Venter, J.D., Ph.D., is a retired intellectual property attorney who specialized in the patenting of biotechnology inventions. She earned a J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin Law School and a B.A. double major in Psychology and Biochemistry and a Ph.D. in Biology (Biochemistry) at the University of California at San Diego. She is licensed to practice before the US Patent and Trademark Office and the State Bar of California (inactive). As a volunteer with DNAadoption.com, Barbara volunteered her time to work on a project for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Crimes Against Children Detail to identify, successfully, the immediate family of “Lisa Jensen”, a woman now in her 30s, who was abducted as a toddler. Lisa did not know either who she is or where she was from.


Additional Resources:

FTCoE DNA Reports and Webinars

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In episode four of the DNA season, Just Science interviews Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter, genetic genealogist and volunteer search angel with DNAadoption.org, about investigative genetic genealogy and its use in forensic science. 

From computer programmer to patent attorney, Dr. Rae-Venter’s career has taken many unexpected turns. But no one would have predicted the impact she would have in retirement. In 2017, she was instrumental in identifying the Golden State Killer. Before that, she was asked to identify a woman who had been abducted as a child using her investigative genetic genealogy expertise. Listen along as she discusses the techniques used for creating family trees and the resolution of her first cold case. 

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

Listen/Download at:
Listen on Google Play Music

 

You can also find us on Stitcher or Soundcloud

 


Barbara Rae-Venter is a genetic genealogist has been a volunteer Search Angel with DNAAdoption.org and has helped adopted people find their genetic parents. Barbara Rae-Venter, J.D., Ph.D., is a retired intellectual property attorney who specialized in the patenting of biotechnology inventions. She earned a J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin Law School and a B.A. double major in Psychology and Biochemistry and a Ph.D. in Biology (Biochemistry) at the University of California at San Diego. She is licensed to practice before the US Patent and Trademark Office and the State Bar of California (inactive). As a volunteer with DNAadoption.com, Barbara volunteered her time to work on a project for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Crimes Against Children Detail to identify, successfully, the immediate family of “Lisa Jensen”, a woman now in her 30s, who was abducted as a toddler. Lisa did not know either who she is or where she was from.


Additional Resources:

FTCoE DNA Reports and Webinars

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In episode three of the DNA season, Just Science interviews Julie Sikorsky, Forensic Biology Unit Manager at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, about her experience introducing an efficiency program into her lab.

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office serves over 30 agencies. With such a large client base, capacity and efficiency are critical for their success. In order to improve efficiency in her lab, Julie Sikorsky implemented Lean Six Sigma. Through this program, they have cut down their backlog and reduced their turnaround time by 45%. Listen in as she discusses laboratory efficiency, the value of open communication, and creating a culture of change in this episode of Just Science.

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

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Julie Conover Sikorsky has been employed by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for over sixteen and a half years and currently serves as the Forensic Biology Unit Manager.  Prior to becoming a manager, Julie was a full-time caseworking analyst for over ten years.  She has actively worked hundreds of forensic DNA cases and offers expert witness testimony.  She obtained a bachelor’s of science degree in molecular biology from the University of California at San Diego and two master’s degrees from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia – one in forensic science the other in biomedical sciences.  Julie is a Fellow of the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) in molecular biology and is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.  She also holds memberships in the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), the International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG), and the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD).  Additionally, she is the chair of the ABC Credentials Committee, is a certified technical assessor under ISO/IEC 17025 for forensic testing laboratories and peer reviews articles for the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics.


Additional Resources:

Lean Facility Design and Forensic Laboratories

Beta Workforce Calculator 

FTCoE DNA Reports and Webinars

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In episode two of the DNA season, Just Science interviews Dr. Kenneth Kidd, Professor Emeritus of Genetics at Yale University, about his research in genetics. Dr. Kenneth Kidd has been working on grants from the National Institute of Justice for nearly a decade. In that time, he has made great contributions to our understanding of genetics and its use in forensics.  While his work started with genetic modeling of various disorders, it quickly expanded to include many sub-disciplines of DNA research. Listen in as he discusses genetic mapping, population genetics, and his research journey in this episode. 

For more information on Dr. Kidd’s contributions to forensics, listen to the episode “Just Microhaps Perhaps” in the 2018 NIJ R&D season of Just Science here.  

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

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Listen on Google Play Music

 

You can also find us on Stitcher or Soundcloud 

 

 


Kenneth K. Kidd, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Genetics and Senior Research Scientist at Yale University, is a human population geneticist.  He has published over 550 scientific papers on a variety of subjects before and during his 44-year career at Yale.  His research has included medical genetics, gene mapping, database design, pharmacogenetics, and a variety of molecular methodologies. His long-standing interest in human population genetics has been combined with his laboratory’s expertise in molecular technology to examine human genome diversity at the DNA level. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s his expertise in both population and molecular genetics provided helpful expert testimony in getting DNA accepted in the courts.  After serving on the advisory panels for DNA identification of victims of the World Trade Center Attack and of Hurricane Katrina, he began research in his lab on panels of single nucleotide polymorphisms for various uses in forensics as an extension of his active research on human genetic diversity.  His lab is now very active in identifying SNPs useful in forensics and in using bioinformatics to make the data available and useful.  His group designed and maintains ALFRED, the large ALlele FREquency Database, and is actively enhancing FROGkb, the Forensic Reference/Resource on Genetics knowledge base.  Since 2013 he has also been recognized for his development of microhaplotypes as a new type of forensic marker suited for the coming transition from capillary electrophoresis to massively parallel sequencing as a common method in forensic practice.


Additional Resources:

Dr. Kidd’s 2018 NIJ R&D archive presentation recorded at AAFS

The redesigned Forensic Research/Reference on Genetics-knowledge base, FROG-kb

Forensic DNA: The Beginning of the SNP Era Webinar Series

FTCoE DNA Reports and Webinars

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In episode one of the DNA season, Just Science interviews Chris Asplen, Executive Director of National Criminal Justice Association, about the evolution of DNA evidence. Listen along as our guest discusses the value of post-conviction testing and the impact of DNA evidence on forensic investigations in this episode of Just Science. 

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

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You can also find us on Stitcher or Soundcloud 

 

 


Chris Asplen began serving as the Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice Association in January 2016. Mr. Asplen is a national and international expert on the use of DNA technologies. Previously, he served as Director of the DNA Legal Assistance Unit for the American Prosecutors Research Institute and the National District Attorneys Association; he also served as an Assistant United States Attorney and as the Executive Director of the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence for the U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Asplen has worked with governments and law enforcement agencies to implement DNA technology to maximize its ability to identify and convict the guilty while protecting the innocent. Mr. Asplen has testified before the U.S. Congress as well as the South African and Philippine parliaments. He also serves as a consultant to the U.S. Department of State and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism on the prosecution of nuclear terrorism crimes.


Additional Resources:

Just So You Know: Rapid DNA Technology Podcast

2017 Rapid DNA Technology Forum

FTCoE DNA Reports and Webinars