DNA Profiling – Science Café With Dr. Stuart Haring

The NDSU College of Science and Math’s next Science Café will feature Dr. Stuart Haring from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The event will take place on Tuesday, November 8 at 7:00 pm in the Hotel Donaldson Stoker’s Lounge. Here are more details:

DNA Profiling: Providing Justice … One Molecule at a Time

Stuart Haring
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, North Dakota State University

Question: What do you take with you every day and leave almost everywhere you go? Answer: DNA. Whether in court cases or natural disasters, it is often of critical importance to establish “beyond a reasonable doubt” the ownership of evidence or remains. This can be quite difficult, especially when traditional methods of identification (e.g., video, eyewitness, fingerprints, etc.) are not available. Enter deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). This biological molecule is contained within each cell of the human body, and although everyone’s DNA makeup is very similar, there are many regions of DNA that are unique to each individual. Much like gender, height, weight, hair/eye color, and identifying marks, the variable DNA regions can also be used as unique personal identifiers. Although DNA analysis has been around for over 25 years, it is only recently, as more rigor has been established for evidence collection and handling and more reliable and efficient techniques have been developed, that DNA analysis is becoming the accepted choice to establish identity “beyond a reasonable doubt”. This discussion will address exactly how DNA is analyzed and how this information can be used to convict or exonerate, identify missing persons and victims of disasters, and confirm or deny paternity. From “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit!” to “Who’s your daddy?”, forensic DNA analysis is rapidly becoming THE star witness in identity determination.