What do crime scenes and family trees have in common? The answer: forensic genealogy, an emerging area of forensic science that is sparking debate and discussion across many disciplines.
Forensic scientists are questioning the validity of this technique, police officers are incorporating it into investigations, and philosophers are investigating the moral and ethical dilemmas behind using DNA voluntarily submitted to third-party ancestry services like 23&me.com for investigative purposes.
Bridging science and the humanities
To explore the topic, and the questions raised, Lady Eaton College (LEC) recently welcomed faculty from the Forensic Science and Philosophy departments and the co-president of the Trent Forensic Science Society, Keira Parr. The virtual event allowed attendees to pose questions to the panelists through the Q&A feature, and Trent experts responded to the questions in real-time. Over 100 people tuned in, including attendees from as far away as Spain and Portugal.
It is thanks to Trent’s unique collegiate structure, that such a riveting, cross-discipline event could take place. “This model offers us these incredible opportunities to learn from each other, to build bridges between the disciplines and to truly embody our Lady Eaton College motto, Sapientia et Humanitas, or wisdom and humanity,” says Dr. Christine Freeman-Roth, principal of Lady Eaton College and Philosophy professor.
Opportunity to engage with forensic experts
“As the moderator, I really enjoyed having the opportunity to further develop my leadership skills while orchestrating meaningful discussions between panelists from different professional disciplines,” shared Ms. Parr. “The panel also opened up my eyes to the complicated ethical dilemmas and considerations that must be taken into account when using genealogy in forensic and law applications.”
Danielle Rock, a fourth-year Forensic Science and Biology student found the discussion and format very informative and engaging, “I loved the discussion of the ethical implications and issues of commercial genotyping and where it will likely lead to in the future. I left the webinar with plenty to ponder!”
Lady Eaton College wishes to thank all panelists who generously gave their time and expertise to participate in the panel:
- Dr. Christine Freeman-Roth, Department of Philosophy
- Dr. Mike Illes, Department of Forensic Science
- Professor David McNab, Department of Forensic Science
- Dr. Barry Saville, Department of Forensic Science
- Dr. Aaron Shafer, Department of Forensic Science
- Dr. Byron Stoyles, Department of Philosophy
Missed the event? Watch a recording of the panel discussion.