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Shark conservation and the impact of forensic science on current conservation efforts

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Marine conservation faces the unique challenge of trying to assess and protect species, like sharks, that have long migration tracks and are often targeted by fishing vessels in open and international waters. Over the last two decades, several large predatory

Marine conservation faces the unique challenge of trying to assess and protect species, like sharks, that have long migration tracks and are often targeted by fishing vessels in open and international waters. Over the last two decades, several large predatory shark populations have been greatly depleted despite local and international organizations designed to help regulate and prevent predator removal to avoid disturbing the food web those sharks balance (Myers, Baum, Shepherd, Powers, & Peterson, 2007). Forensic science is a powerful tool that could give shark conservation efforts an edge on identifying shark species currently being targeted by unsustainable fisheries in international waters. Allowing offenders who break international conservation laws to be prosecuted for their crimes. Unfortunately, this unique and powerful tool has not been given the opportunity to be utilized as it should be. An overview of national and international agencies, organizations, and laws disclosed a strong foundation for wildlife conservation. However, current international organizations and laws that govern international waters leave much to be desired in regards to protecting shark species that are threatened due to being popular targets for fishing vessels. This paper examines the level of forensic science involvement in shark conservation efforts through a literature review, revealing a severe lack of real-life application of forensic science to marine conservation cases. Current issues that marine wildlife forensic science encounters while attempting to increase forensic capability. And finally, presenting proposals for the future, and new challenges, which aim to strengthen the relationship between forensic science and marine conservation.

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2018-05

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Observer #9

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The culture surrounding death in America is one of science and silence. When possible, death is hidden away from the public view. When exposure to death is unavoidable, it is sensationalized, made into a spectacle. Our dying are put into

The culture surrounding death in America is one of science and silence. When possible, death is hidden away from the public view. When exposure to death is unavoidable, it is sensationalized, made into a spectacle. Our dying are put into hospice care, nursing homes, and other hidden spaces, or else they are plastered over the news and internet. So, we get one of two views of death: the sterile, silent death that happens in the presence of medical professionals or the bloody, tragic deaths that are constantly reported across news outlets and social media or sensationalized on entertainment platforms such as movies and video games. Entire genres of television and movies are created on the foundation of bloody deaths and we are exposed to the concept of death constantly.

Despite the consistent coverage of death on a large scale, the average person is not often exposed to death on a personal level in this day and age. The deaths we see on television or in the movies are not typically connected to people with whom we are attached and so we are not required to work through our emotional response and experience. We are afforded the space to be a casual observer in most of the deaths that we see—we do not need the emotional and mental tools to cope with death on a personal level. While this distance from death may be true of the American whole, it is not entirely generalizable. Professionals in select fields are required to deal with death on a much more regular basis than the average person, including, but not limited to, healthcare and forensic professionals. In these professions, death is a fundamental aspect of the job—either as an expected risk or a necessary precursor. These professionals deal intimately with death, its causes, and its effects on a regular basis because of their chose line of work and, in doing so, are regularly exposed to death and other trauma which has the potential to affect them on both a professional and personal level. In doing so, these professionals are required to, as scientists, analyze and record these experiences with death through the lens of objectivity. These professionals are expected to maintain a professional distance while also being required to give an empathetic response to other’s trauma. The potential effect of this secondary trauma on these professionals is only sharpened by the culture of machismo in these science-based fields that prevents many professionals from expressing emotions regarding their job and getting the social support they need from others within their community.

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2018-12

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Distinguishing Post Mortem Faunal Predation from Intentional Sharp Force Trauma

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Due to the nature of animals, even domesticated pets, animal scavenging of human remains is an important taphonomic factor. This area of study has, however, been undercounted in the current literature. The purpose of this study was to begin the

Due to the nature of animals, even domesticated pets, animal scavenging of human remains is an important taphonomic factor. This area of study has, however, been undercounted in the current literature. The purpose of this study was to begin the first step in creating a taphonomic profile for urban / household animal scavenging as distinguishable from manmade tool marks. Using volunteered animals and regularly available tools, alterations were made on beef ribs in order to characterize the distinguishing profiles between the two groups. It was found that animal scavenging alterations, in the short term (20 minutes used in this study) have a distinctly different appearance than tool mark alterations. Animal scavenging has less visible alterations, consistent bite morphology across different species, and symmetrical cut marks along the midsection of the long bones. Ultimately, this study was a successful first step in furthering taphonomic alteration database research across various biomes and conditions.

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2018-05

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Possibility VS Practicality; A Study of the Sequential Processing of Fired Cartridge Casings

Description

There are unrealistic expectations of the forensic science discipline by the public today. More specifically about the types of evidence that can be recovered from a fired cartridge casing. The common misconception with the evidence that can be recovered from

There are unrealistic expectations of the forensic science discipline by the public today. More specifically about the types of evidence that can be recovered from a fired cartridge casing. The common misconception with the evidence that can be recovered from a cartridge casing is that all three types of evidence: DNA, latent prints, and firearms can be recovered from the same cartridge casing. However, just because some analyses are possible does not mean that they are practical. The definition of possibility is that an event can happen. However, the definition of practicality is not only that it can happen, but that the event should occur to optimize the efficiency of a given task. Through literature review of previous studies as well as experimental data, each discipline (DNA, latent prints, and firearms and toolmark analysis) were evaluated. For the experimental trials, three total experiments were carried out. Experiment one focused on the possibility aspect, so in experiment one the best conditions were simulated to receive a positive result. Experiment two focused on creating conditions that would occur at a crime scene, and experiment three refined those variables to serve as middle ground. After evaluation, each discipline was classified as possible and/or practical. These results were then used to determine practical sequential processing for a fired cartridge casing. After both experimentation and review, it was determined that the best possible sequential processing path for a cartridge casing collected at the crime scene to get the quickest information back is as follows: Firearms, DNA, Latent Prints.

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2018-05

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The Impact of Forensic Science on Society

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The Impact of Forensic Science on Society examines the relationship between forensic science and society. Before 2009, society believed forensic science to be a important investigative tool. When the National Academy of Sciences released a report in 2009 detailing the

The Impact of Forensic Science on Society examines the relationship between forensic science and society. Before 2009, society believed forensic science to be a important investigative tool. When the National Academy of Sciences released a report in 2009 detailing the issues within forensic science, society's opinion changed. This thesis analyzes factors that influenced the change in the relationship between forensic science and society, specifically focusing on the 2009 report, the CSI effect, the Innocence Project, and the role of the media. It also looks at how we can continue to improve forensic science, as well as how to strengthen the relationship between forensic science and society.

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2018-05

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"ForenSICK Science​" and the Use of YouTube as a Tool in Alternative Forensic Science Education

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Forensic science is the application of science to matters of law, especially criminal investigation and procedure.​ ForenSICK Science​, on the other hand, is an educational YouTube channel. It was created in early 2019 after listening to two people on a

Forensic science is the application of science to matters of law, especially criminal investigation and procedure.​ ForenSICK Science​, on the other hand, is an educational YouTube channel. It was created in early 2019 after listening to two people on a podcast confidently preach surprisingly inaccurate information about forensic science. My goal in the creation of the channel was to give people the proper information regarding the practice. This goal grew to encompass several different fields including continued education practices, informal and nonformal learning, and combating “science speak.” Using YouTube as a tool in this journey was the first step in combating forensic inaccuracies.

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2020-05

Gender Variability in Latent Fingermark Degradation Studies

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Fingermarks have been used by law enforcement agencies to identify suspects in criminal activity. Although fingermarks remain persistent over time, the degradation pattern of latent fingermarks remains unknown. Previous studies examined the morphology of friction ridges on a two-dimensional scale,

Fingermarks have been used by law enforcement agencies to identify suspects in criminal activity. Although fingermarks remain persistent over time, the degradation pattern of latent fingermarks remains unknown. Previous studies examined the morphology of friction ridges on a two-dimensional scale, but recently 3D technology has been employed to examine how the height dimension degrades overtime. The Sa statistic was formulated to monitor the aging process of friction ridge heights from 6 donors. Fingermarks were deposited on two nonporous substrates (glass or plastic) and aged under dark or light exposure for 98 days. Pressure, time of contact, and treatment of finger prior to deposition were held constant while temperature and humidity were monitored throughout the study. Experimental variables included substrate and light exposure. Females exhibited slower degradation than males. For fingermarks deposited on glass, faster degradation was seen under light exposure. This finding was consistent for fingermarks deposited on plastic, but instrument contamination may have been possible. Slower degradation was seen on glass under both light exposures. This study indicates the Sa statistic is valuable for assessing fingermark degradation of friction ridges. However, due to a small sample size and variability in the rate of degradation between donors, genders, under different lighting and substrate conditions, the age of latent fingermarks cannot be determined at this time.

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2020-05

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On the Viability of GSR As Evidence From Flies and their Pupae

Description

In this experiment, the viability of gunshot residue (GSR) was examined. This was done through the very rarely researched intersection of forensic firearms analysis and forensic entomology. The question being resolved is if GSR can reliably be detected from secondary

In this experiment, the viability of gunshot residue (GSR) was examined. This was done through the very rarely researched intersection of forensic firearms analysis and forensic entomology. The question being resolved is if GSR can reliably be detected from secondary evidence transfer of GSR laden carrion onto flies and their larvae. While it is know that secondary and tertiary GSR evidence can be transferred by way of handshakes, no such research has been conducted on flies or their pupae. Findings indicated varying levels of detection of GSR on evidence. GSR could reliably be detected on fly bodies and their legs, but not on their pupae. This research is significant as it provides previously unknown information on this line of research and provides the groundwork for further research on this topic in the future.

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2021-05

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Blow Flies and the American Diet:Effects of Fat Content on Blow Fly (Diptera: Calliphoridae) Development

Description

Forensic entomology is an important field of forensic science that utilizes insect evidence in criminal investigations. Blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) are among the first colonizers of remains and are therefore frequently used in determining the minimum postmortem interval (mPMI). Blow

Forensic entomology is an important field of forensic science that utilizes insect evidence in criminal investigations. Blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) are among the first colonizers of remains and are therefore frequently used in determining the minimum postmortem interval (mPMI). Blow fly development, however, is influenced by a variety of factors including temperature and feeding substrate type. Unfortunately, dietary fat content remains an understudied factor on the development process, which is problematic given the relatively high rates of obesity in the United States. To study the effects of fat content on blow fly development we investigated the survivorship, adult weight and development of Lucilia sericata (Meigen; Diptera: Calliphoridae) and Phormia regina (Meigen; Diptera: Calliphoridae) on ground beef with a 10%, 20%, or 27% fat content. As fat content increased, survivorship decreased across both species with P. regina being significantly impacted. While P. regina adults were generally larger than L. sericata across all fat levels, only L. sericata demonstrated a significant (P < 0.05) difference in weight by sex. Average total development times for P. regina are comparable to averages published in other literature. Average total development times for L. sericata, however, were nearly 50 hours higher. These findings provide insight on the effect of fat content on blow fly development, a factor that should be considered when estimating a mPMI. By understanding how fat levels affect the survivorship and development of the species studied here, we can begin improving the practice of insect evidence analysis in casework.

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2021-05

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The Persistence of Blood Across Various Substrates

Description

The subcategory of evidence deemed trace evidence is frequently seen in crime scenes, and while it is commonly the smallest evidence around, that doesn’t stop it from greatly contributing to the findings at the scene. Blood evidence may be categorized

The subcategory of evidence deemed trace evidence is frequently seen in crime scenes, and while it is commonly the smallest evidence around, that doesn’t stop it from greatly contributing to the findings at the scene. Blood evidence may be categorized into this group in certain cases at crime scenes, especially in cases of transfer between two objects or people. In this study, the transfer of blood across both porous and non-porous substrates was examined to determine the persistence of blood across both substrates. The resulting stains after each trial of transfers were tested with a presumptive blood test commonly used in crime labs, the Kastle-Meyer test. Throughout all trials of the experiment, it was determined that blood on a non-porous surface typically dries faster as long as there isn’t a pooling effect, which hinders the ability for a stain to be continuously transferred and detected by Kastle-Meyer. Conversely, porous substrates are more likely to absorb and retain the blood in the material, allowing the blood to be released when pressure is applied, causing the stain to transfer more easily and result in a stain that will produce a positive Kastle-Meyer result.

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2021-05