Jeffrey D. Wells, firstname.lastname@example.org, West Virginia University, Department of Biology, Morgantown, WV
Molecular methods allow a forensic entomologist to determine the species of an otherwise difficult insect specimen and to identify specimen gut contents. They can greatly aid a death investigation. The laboratory protocols for such analyses are robust and widely practiced. Because the staff members of a typical forensic DNA lab in this country will not touch insect evidence, investigators are likely to approach an academic scientist. The purpose of this presentation is to promote valid and effective expert testimony by highlighting major practical and legal considerations of which a university scientist may be unaware. These include chain of custody rules, standard forensic DNA quality control measures, the uneven authenticity and sufficiency of published genetic data, local regulations concerning laboratory certification, and the challenges often encountered in court.