Applications of DNA Profile Sequencing in Forensic Investigation

College of Letters and Science / Anthropology


The objectives of the current project are to ground truth current DNA methods in matching known to unknown profiles in a forensic context using standard sequencing procedures and protocols. This work will be part of establishing a new forensic science laboratory for the UWM Center for Forensic Science in the Department of Anthropology. One of the primary goals of the first part of the project is the development and validation of teaching protocols for future student laboratory training. Secondary objectives for the project therefore include having the SURF student mentor other students in the practice of these techniques in order for her to gain experience in laboratory leadership and demonstrate competency in learning objectives.  Methods will include developing protocols for DNA sequencing using gel electrophoresis and other known DNA extraction procedures. We will be using quantification methods including Qubit as well as amplifying DNA using PCR and other molecular techniques. Baseline reagents and DNA samples will be obtained from Fisher Scientific for the experiments. The student will gain proficiency specifically in a forensic laboratory setting, expanding her general biological laboratory experience and providing additional employment opportunities post graduation.

Tasks and Responsibilities

The student's tasks and responsibilities will be divided into separate objectives for the fall and spring semesters. In the fall, the student will be working with me to develop forensic procedures and protocols for matching unknown genetic profiles to known standards that will be used for future student forensic science training. They will be using laboratory equipment such as pipets, centrifuges, gel electrophoresis, genetic analyzers, and Qubit to extract, quantify, and amplify DNA. The student will then test the developed protocols and work with me to fine tune as needed to create replicable and useful training experiments. In the spring, the student will be responsible for training two to three less experienced forensic science undergraduate students in the established techniques and protocols. They will supervise all aspects of training, starting with basic laboratory skills such as pipetting and liquid transfers and progressing to helping the students feel comfortable running the entire DNA extraction procedure on their own.

Desired Qualifications

None listed.