Faster and More Efficient Forensics (Bioscience Technology)

Faster and More Efficient Forensics
By Mike May
Bioscience Technology – July 12, 2011

An excerpt from Faster and More Efficient Forensics

Don’t Bat an Eyelash
Blinking could incriminate some of tomorrow’s criminals. When teaching a hair-comparison class, Kristen Wiley—a senior research microscopist at McCrone Associates, the analytical services arm of The McCrone Group—lost an eyelash and it dropped under her scope.

“I thought I didn’t wear much makeup,” she says, “but my eyelash was still relatively coated with mascara.”

She started to wonder if the mascara could turn into evidence. Wiley removed the mascara from her eyelash and from lashes donated by two of her coworkers—all three wearing different brands of mascara. Then, an infrared spectroscopist showed that each brand generated a different IR signature. In fact, Wiley could even tell apart some of the brands with polarized light microscopy. “Two brands had birefringent particles and one didn’t,” she says.

Richard Bisbing, executive vice president at Hooke College of Applied Sciences, the education division of The McCrone Group, adds that mascara stains could also be taken from other surfaces, such as a pillowcase. “If you have three possible people under suspicion,” he says, “the brand of mascara might be used to limit your population of interest.”

Advanced technology often brings new kinds of samples into forensics. Likewise, labs can explore more samples—doing it all faster and more accurately.

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