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Incredible developments in science and technology have given forensic scientists a powerful arsenal of tools for the detection, recovery, and quantification of evidence. Modern instrumentation can produce a DNA profile from a single human cell under ideal conditions, and from 5-6 cells under casework conditions. Similarly, current generation mass spectrometry equipment can detect differences in compounds in the parts per billion range. Quantifying evidence, however, is only one part of the legal process. The court wants to know “Does this piece of evidence make the defendant more likely to be guilty or innocent?” In order to answer this question we need statistics. All measurements have inherent variability, and where there is variability there is uncertainty and there are statisticians. In this talk I will explain the role of a statistician in forensic evidence interpretation and discuss some of the research questions that my collaborators and I have addressed over the last 20 years.
More information about Professor James Curran can be found at https://www.stat.auckland.ac.nz/showperson?firstname=James&surname=Curran