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George Washington University

Washington, D.C.

 

The George Washington University’s Forensic Science Research Center (GWUFSRC) blossomed after moving the Department of Forensic Science to the Mount Vernon Campus in 2009. This allowed for the accommodation of expanded research space and FEPAC Accreditation. More than 10 active faculty researchers in the Department of Forensic Science participate in GWUFSRC research, either as mentors of the 47 FEPAC students or as investigators on the eight funded projects. GWU has one of the oldest and largest forensic science programs in the United States, with a total of 98 graduate students working on master’s degrees in forensic science, with one Ph.D. student from the Department of Chemistry with a concentration in forensic science. We presently have collaborations with industrial partners. Participation in the NSF-I/UCRC will allow the department to extend the interaction of the academic researchers with industrial partners and increase the approximately $1.4 million dollars in active funding using our state of the art laboratory facilities in analytical chemistry, trace evidence, and forensic molecular biology.

 

 

 

Research Faculty


Dr. Moses S. Scanfield

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Professor, Department of Forensic Science, GWU

Phone: (202) 242-5765
Email: mschanfi@gwu.edu
   

 

Background

Moses S. Schanfield is a Professor in the Departments of Forensic Science and Anthropology at The George Washington University (GWU). Professor Schanfield received his Ph.D. in human genetics from the University of Michigan. He has spent over 45 years as an applied geneticist, with the last 30 years working in forensic science.  Professor Schanfield started in forensic science before the advent of DNA technology, and originally was involved in testing evidence using serological techniques including blood groups and immunoglobulin allotypes.  He was involved in training and technology transfer in the pre-DNA era.  In the late 1980s, he was involved with the development of DNA technology, initially RFLP testing and later PCR based testing. In 1989 his laboratory discovered the “in-lane size ladder” and disseminated that information, leading to the modern use of the “in-lane size ladder” in forensic science.  In 1993 his laboratory and NIST received the R&D 100 Award  for the development of “Standard Reference Material 2390: DNA Profiling Standard.” Professor Schanfield has testified in over 100 cases in 40 states, in state, federal and military courts.  He has also testified in Canada, Puerto Rico, and Barbados, and did the first DNA case in Indonesia.  Professor Schanfield is a founding member of the International Society of Applied Biological Sciences, The ISABS meeting was a spin-off of the work done in 1995, repatriating remains created by the 1991 Balkan War. Professor Schanfield has published four books, the most relevant are Forensic DNA Methods and Applications: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (2014), edited with Dr. Dragan Primorac.  The second edition of this book is in beginning stages.  Professor Schanfield has over 150 publications in peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed publications. He has been an involved in the acceptance of electrophoresis, restriction fragment length polymorphism (DNA) testing and later PCR based DNA testing in forensic science since the 1980s.

 

General Research Areas

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 CARFS Funded Projects

  • Forensic Statistics: GWU Department of Forensic Sciences and NISS will collaborate to develop a flexible modular curriculum in statistics for forensic sciences. Based on joint experience in teaching a Forensic Statistics course for GWU FEPAC accredited forensic science programs, the challenges are clear. Suitable, statistically sound, forensics-related course materials are largely lacking. Two crucial observations emerged: First, a solid base of understanding how to think statistically about evidence is necessary to success. Second, the next step depends on the particular field of forensics since the application of statistics to forensic fields is as specialized as the fields. Therefore, a flexible modular approach would start with introductory modules on key fundamental ideas behind statistical inference in the forensic context. Each follow-on module would address a particular usage of statistical methods as applied to one or more specific forensic disciplines. Insofar as possible, methodology modules would be independent for assembly as desired into short courses, semester or full-year courses and would focus on specific, chosen forensics areas. Methodology modules will allow team-teaching, or integration into forensics coursework or research projects to maximize motivation, understanding, and retention. Working jointly, GWU and NISS will incorporate GWU graduate student and faculty projects and forensics research into module development as a context for presenting the statistical principles and methods where possible. These efforts should help meet some of the concerns of the PCAST report on the poor use of statistical methods in some areas of forensic science.