Biostatistics department chair Constantine Gatsonis, who co-led a National Academy of Sciences panel on criminal forensics, told the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Dec. 7 that the practice of forensics around the country needs more uniform standards and research to determine how reliable its many practices really are, for instance in identifying evidence against the accused. “In terms of the reliability and accuracy in making individualization conclusions, it is fair to say that, with the exception of nuclear DNA analysis, there is a lot we do not know about other forensic disciplines,” he said in written testimony. “A body of research is required to assess the accuracy and reliability of analysis in many of the forensic disciplines and to address the impact of sources of variability and potential bias.” Among the NAS panel’s recommendations was creation of a National Institute of Forensic Sciences, which would promote research and standards throughout the forensics community.

Read more