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UIndy makes impact at 2019 AAFS meeting

Cantor and Miller

University of Indianapolis human biology students and alumni are tackling real-world issues and continue to gain national attention in the field of “transfer DNA” research.

Leann Rizor ’19 (M.S., human biology)

In February, a large group of students and alumni participated in the 71st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Baltimore, Maryland. Led by Krista Latham, associate professor of biology & anthropology and director of the University of Indianapolis Human Identification Center, some 15 current students and faculty presented research in the anthropology, criminalistics and jurisprudence sections of the Academy. Eight alumni from the program also participated in the meeting.

Cindy Cale ’18 (M.S., human biology) presented research at the AAFS meeting that showed how a 10-second handshake could transfer a person’s DNA to an object that the person never touched. Krista Latham and Stephen Nawrocki, professor of biology, were two of Cale’s co-authors on the research, “Indirect DNA Transfer: The Impact of Contact Length on Skin-to-Skin-to-Object DNA Transfer.” Cale’s work on DNA transfer has received national attention.

Leann Rizor ’19 (M.S. human biology) presented “The Strengths and Limitations of Transfer DNA Evidence Recovered From Objects Handled by Multiple Individuals,” with Latham, Cale and Jonah Stone ’19 (M.S., human biology) among the co-authors. Rizor found that the last person to touch an object such as a communal pitcher was often not the one who left the most DNA behind.

The transfer DNA research presented at the AAFS meeting, which was conducted for a UIndy biology class (BIOL 435/535), was recently highlighted in Science News. The National Forensic Science Technology Center at Florida International University also highlighted the research in this video.

Current students (human biology graduate students) who attended:
Samantha Beck ’20
Erica Cantor ’19
Alba Craig ’21
Holley Gilmour ’21
Rebekah Judkins ’21
Rachel Kreher ’19
Jordan Lewman ’19
Jessica Miller ’20
Arden Mower ’21
Madeline Parker ’19
Megan Patton ’21
Jessica Rivosecchi-Fulton ’19
Leann Rizor ’19
Haley Rock ’19
Laura Scheid ’20
Jonah Stone ’19
Sidney Thompson ’21
Angela Zimmer ’19

Alumni (human biology M.S. degree) who attended:
Helen Brandt ’17
Cindy Cale ’18
Jessica Campbell ’15
Erica Christensen ’14
Paul Emanovsky ’02
Justin Maiers ’17
Nicolette Parr ’05
Caitlin Vogelsberg ’12

et al. Indirect DNA transfer: The impact of contact length on skin-to-skin-to-object DNA transfer. American Academy of Forensic Sciences annual meeting, Baltimore, February 21, 2019.

L.G. Rizor et al. The strengths and limitations of transfer DNA evidence recovered from objects handled by multiple individuals. American Academy of Forensic Sciences annual meeting, Baltimore, February 21, 2019.