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NIST: A Leader in Forensic Science and Valued CSAFE Partner

The entrance sign at NIST's Gaithersburg campus. Credit: J. Stoughton/NIST
The entrance sign at NIST's Gaithersburg campus. Credit: J. Stoughton/NIST

Imagine a world without standard measurements.  How would we quantify the weight of our food, or the length of material for clothes?  Without a standard system, confusion abounds. In 1901 the U.S. government created the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Department of Justice.

Building the Foundation of Innovation

NIST’s goal is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competiveness through advances in measurement in science, standards and technology.  Innovation relies on the ability to observe and measure which allows product control and standard procedure implementation.

In addition to applications in industry and manufacturing, universally accepted definitions of measurement play a key role in scientific advancement. NIST researchers are at the forefront of developing new technology and commercialization.

“From the smart electronic power grid and electronic health records to atomic clocks, innumerable products and services rely in some way on technology, measurement and standards provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.”

Benefits of Standard Measurement in Forensic Science

Did you know that standard measurement is key in forensic science? Universal procedures for collection, analysis and interpretation of forensic evidence help protect the innocent and convict the guilty.  NIST focuses on three components of improving forensic science standards.

  • Science- Leads the way in innovative research in many forensic science disciplines to include DNA, fingerprints, digital evidence and more. Experts increase forensic laboratory analytical method validity through physical reference standards and data.
  • Policy- Co-chaired the National Commission on Forensic Science to raise awareness on standards such as accreditation requirements for forensic science service providers.
  • Practice- Directs Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science to develop science based standards and guidelines for forensic science disciplines.

CSAFE and NIST- Working together to Transform Forensic Science

NIST is committed to advancing efforts to solve deficiencies in forensic science standards.  In 2015, NIST established CSAFE, a Center for Excellence in forensic science.  NIST continues to provide funding and strategical guidance to CSAFE as the center works to build the scientific foundations of forensic science.  The CSAFE team benefits greatly from the expertise NIST brings to CSAFE research and education initiatives.  Working in close partnership, NIST and CSAFE are developing solutions to better recognize, collect, analyze and interpret evidence.