In the popular imagination, a DNA match is as good as a signed confession — maybe better. In the CSI lab, nothing is that simple, as NJ Spotlight partner NewsWorks/WHYY details in its article, CSI N.J.: Rutgers-Camden Professor Aims to Solve One of Biggest DNA Evidence Issues.
The problem is that most DNA samples are what is known as “noisy” or “corrupted by a lot of contributors,” according to Rutgers-Camden professor Desmond Lun. That severely compromises their use as evidence in a criminal procedure and may prevent them from being entered into evidence at all.
Lun, working with a team from Boston University and MIT, is trying to solve the noise issue by developing sophisticated software that uses statistical analysis to assess how useful a specific DNA sample may be to a particular investigation. The National Institute of Justice recently awarded the effort a $207,000 grant.