Item of Interest

Grants awarded for bullet and duct-tape forensic science

Three grants totaling over $2.2 million were recently awarded to the University of California, Davis program in forensic science by the U.S. Department of Justice. The three grants are:

  • $1.4 million over three years to develop a bullet-matching database;
  • $700,000 over two years for studying the impressions left on cartridge cases by firearms; and...
  • $150,000 over two years to establish whether torn pieces of duct tape can be reliably matched.

In the largest grant, researchers will develop a database of 10,000 bullets from Northern California crime labs. They will use a technique called confocal microscopy to study the surface features of bullets, and identify key characteristics that can be used to compare bullets in a statistically accurate way. Instead of comparing photographs of bullets—which UC Davis team members say can be misleading because of differences in how the pictures are taken—the team plans to identify key elements that describe a bullet and that can then be entered into a database and compared with the “signature” of another bullet.

The graduate program in forensic science at UC Davis offers a research-oriented Master of Science degree. The program provides training in the latest scientific techniques and forensic methods, equipping students to work in forensic-science laboratories.

"Item of Interest"
September-October 2009 (Volume 7, Number 5)
Evidence Technology Magazine
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Court Case Update

FINGERPRINT EVIDENCE went through a nearly three-year ordeal in the New Hampshire court system, but eventually emerged unscathed. On April 4, 2008, the New Hampshire Supreme Court unanimously reversed the decision of a lower court to exclude expert testimony regarding fingerprint evidence in the case of The State of New Hampshire v. Richard Langill. The case has been remanded back to the Rockingham County Superior Court.