Grant supports forensic science research

The National Institute of Justice has awarded Mark R. Wilson, director of the Forensic Science Program at Western Carolina University, a two-year, nearly $718,000 grant to evaluate new DNA sequencing instrumentation for use in crime laboratories.

The grant not only will support the research but also will provide three research assistantships in the amount of $20,000 each and tuition waivers for qualified graduate students working on related thesis research projects.

The research builds on previous work at WCU made possible through the acquisition of multiple state-of-the-art DNA sequencing instruments, and there will be opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to take part.

“We will be evaluating some of the sequencers more in-depth than what we’ve done in the past, and some additional projects will relate to assessing the quality of the DNA that is extracted from forensic-related sample types,” said Brittania Bintz, a forensic research scientist at WCU.

The work is of particular interest to faculty and scientists who are involved with the global Illumina Forensic Genomics Consortium, which is led by Wilson and whose membership includes top scientists specializing in the area of forensic DNA analysis, said Bintz.

“The research we perform is discussed by the consortium and has the potential to impact forensic crime labs across the country when this technology is incorporated into casework,” said Bintz.

For more information, contact Bintz at 828-227-3680 or bbintz@wcu.edu.