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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

DNA expert to speak at URI on Friday, April 9

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 2, 2004 -- Robin Smith, a forensic biology supervisor with the Rhode Island Department of Health, will speak about the scientific and legal issues of DNA as part of the Forensic Science Seminar Series offered by the University of Rhode Island.

The discussion will take place on Friday, April 9, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in Room 124 of Pastore Hall on the Kingston Campus. This lecture is free and open to the public.

Smith oversees the analysis of evidence related to violent crimes- mostly sexual assaults and homicides. In her Providence laboratory, she uses tweezers, scalpels, and microscopes to examine blood, semen, and saliva samples.

Once the samples are put through a battery of tests, the DNA patterns are determined, and statistical data is used to match the frequency of the pattern occurrence within a segment of the population. This can implicate or exonerate a suspect. If there is a DNA profile and no suspect, scientists can use CODIS- Combined DNA Index System, to check the DNA pattern against the DNA of more than one million known criminals.

"It’s really rewarding to be able to help the police through DNA… to exclude somebody who’s been accused of a crime, or to come up with a match that leads to a suspect," she said in the May 2003 issue of Northeastern University Magazine. She earned a master’s of forensic science from the school in 1984.
The Forensic Science Seminar Series is a semester-long program offered by the University of Rhode Island Forensic Science Partnership. It lasts through April 30, and all lectures are held in Room 124 of Pastore Hall from 3:30 to 5 p.m.