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Forensic biology students to present research

12-10-2013

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In a small, state-of-the-art laboratory at Sacramento State, forensic biology students are doing important research to advance the efforts of working criminalists and others.

One team, for example, figured out how to extract DNA profiles from painted-over bloodstains. Another team tested whether DNA could be recovered from buried knives, an issue that before had not been carefully studied. And a third team, working in tandem with UC Davis students, studied the frequencies of forensic DNA markers in the Kamba tribe of Kenya. Their findings will go into a database to calculate DNA profile match probabilities and paternity likelihood ratios among Kenyans.

“I love the challenge of solving problems and the satisfaction of helping someone,” says Merces Reed, a second-year student who partnered with Josh Xiong on the Kenya project.

The students will present their research findings during a poster session from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, in the Delta Room, on the third floor of the University Union. It’s free and open to the public.

The students – who will graduate with bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences with a concentration in forensic biology and a minor in chemistry – spend at least six hours a week in the CSI:TRU (Crime Scene Investigation: Training and Research for Undergraduates) lab in Sacramento State’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

“We are a student-centered facility, and we’re able to provide students with hands-on training and experience in real-world forensics techniques,” says Ruth Ballard, a professor of biological sciences who launched the CSI:TRU lab in 2006.

“When they leave here, they understand the theory behind DNA typing and instrumentation, and that makes them more appealing to employers. They’re landing jobs as a result.”

For media assistance, contact Sacramento State’s Office of Public Affairs at (916) 278-6156. – Dixie Reid