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In episode four of the Improving the System season. Just Science interviews Sarah Chu, Senior Adviser on Forensic Science Policy at the Innocence Project, about their work to end wrongful conviction. Currently, there are over 2,500 cases on the National Registry of Exonerations. Organizations like the Innocence Project work tirelessly to put an end to wrongful convictions. They rely on people familiar with both policy and forensic science – people like Sarah Chu. Listen along as she discusses the Innocence Project and the impact that it has had on the criminal justice system in this episode of Just Science. 

The recording originally took place on May 5th, 2018 and some data may have changed since then

The paper referenced by Sarah in the podcast “INNOCENCE PROJECT: DNA EXONERATIONS, 1989-2014: REVIEW OF DATA AND FINDINGS FROM THE FIRST 25 YEARS” written by Emily West, Ph.D. and Vanessa Meterko, M.A., states that there were 73 cases involving hair microscopy problems, not 70. To read the article click 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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Sarah Chu joined the Innocence Project in September 2008. As the Senior Advisor on Forensic Science Policy, she supports policy work that focuses on improving the validity and reliability of forensic science. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Sarah worked in executive search and as a middle school science teacher in the NYC public schools. She also represents her community on her local community board. During her academic career, Sarah published work in plant biology and musculoskeletal epidemiology. Sarah graduated from the University of California, San Diego with bachelor degrees in Biochemistry/Cell Biology, Communication, and a Masters in Biology. She also holds a Masters in Epidemiology from Stanford University.

 


Additional Resources:

INNOCENCE PROJECT: DNA EXONERATIONS, 1989-2014: REVIEW OF DATA AND FINDINGS FROM THE FIRST 25 YEARS
 
The Innocence Project

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In episode three of the Improving the System season, Just Science interviews John Paul Jones and Mark Stolorow of NIST about the Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science. The 2009 National Academy of Sciences report on forensic science cited a lack of national leadership and scientifically sound standards. Its authors specifically looked to NIST to bridge these gaps in the forensic science arena. Listen along as our guests from NIST discuss developing standards and the creation of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic 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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Mark Stolorow is the Director of OSAC Affairs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, MD. He was the coordinator for forensic biology and research program administrator for the Illinois State Police Bureau of Forensic Science, and the executive director of Orchid Cellmark, a forensic DNA testing laboratory. He has a B.S. from the University of Michigan, an M.S. in Forensic Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh, and an M.B.A. from Eastern Michigan University.

John Paul Jones II is the Associate Director of OSAC Affairs within the Forensic Science Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  The Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science is composed of 34 operating units populated by over 560 members and over 250 affiliates.  It provides the national infrastructure for identifying, generating and adopting technically sound forensic science standards and guidelines for the forensic industry.  Mr. Jones has more than 18 years of scientific and management experience in the forensic industry including positions in the private sector, U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Defense.   He received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Virginia Tech and a master’s of business administration from Carnegie Mellon University.

 


Additional Resources:

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC)
 

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In episode two of the Improving the System season, Just Science met with Gerry LaPorte, former Director of the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences at NIJ, to discuss forensic science research and development innovations. Over the course of his career, Gerry LaPorte has worked with scores of agencies across multiple disciplines on varied, high-profile cases. From granular points about chemistry to the philosophy of science at large, this 2018 conversation reflects the diversity of his résumé. Listen along as our guest discusses the value of statistics, the definition of light, and his experience working as Chief Forensic Chemist with the Secret Service 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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Gerald LaPorte is the Director of Research Innovation for the Global Forensic and Justice Center at the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) a program of Florida International University (FIU). LaPorte, former Chief Forensic Research Chemist for the U.S. Secret Service, most recently served as Director in the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences at the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. He brings decades of experience and knowledge in forensic science. LaPorte served on the National Commission on Forensic Science, a body of esteemed scientists, law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges, with the underlying objective to improve the quality and practice of forensic science. During his tenure at NIJ, he oversaw national efforts such as the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence, and grant programs for state and local forensic laboratories to improve the quality and timeliness of forensic services. Under LaPorte’s leadership, research and development at NIJ has become the most prominent and highly funded program in the world focused on advancing the forensic sciences. 

 


Additional Resources:

2020 NIJ R&D Symposium 
 
IAC&ME Session V: NIJ’s Role in Strengthening the Medical Examiner-Coroner System in the United States Presented by Mr. Gerry LaPorte 
 
 
 

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In episode one of the Improving the System season, Just Science interviews Dr. Jonathan McGrath, Senior Policy Analyst in the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences at the National Institute of Justice, about the recently published NIJ Needs Assessment of Forensic Laboratories and Medical ExaminerCoroner Offices Report to Congress. Listen along as he discusses the findings of the report and the challenges faced by both forensic laboratories and medical examiner/coroner offices.  

Read the Needs Assessment of Forensic Laboratories and Medical Examiner/Coroner Offices Report

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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Dr. Jonathan McGrath serves as a senior policy analyst with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences located in Washington, D.C. He supports the NIJ Forensic Technology Center of Excellence program, the DOJ Needs Assessment of Forensic Laboratories and Medical Examiner and Coroner Offices, the NIJ Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group, and the NIJ Drug and Crime Program; he also serves as a vice co-chair for the Federal Medicolegal Death Investigation Working Group. Prior to joining NIJ in 2015, he served as a forensic scientist with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Laboratories and Scientific Services Directorate (CBP LSSD) in Houston, Texas, from 2007 to 2011. He worked at the CBP LSSD headquarters office in Washington, D.C., where he supported CBP’s trade, forensic, and weapons of mass destruction operations programs during 2011–2015. Dr. McGrath holds a doctoral degree in analytical chemistry from Georgia Tech, a master of science in forensic science from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and bachelor of science in chemistry from the University of Dallas.


Additional Resources:

– Just Building Workforce Resilienc
– Workforce Calculator Project
– DOJ Press Release
– Office of Justice Programs (OJP) / Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Federal Interagency Medicolegal Death Investigation Working Group (MDI-WG) Resource Page
– FLN-TWG Report