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Carriquiry Featured in Lab Manager Magazine

Lab Manager Magazine Cover

Alicia Carriquiry, the director of the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE), was featured in the “Ask the Expert” column of the January-February issue of Lab Manager magazine. The column topic was titled, “Interpreting Forensic Evidence with Statistics.”

In a Q&A format, Carriquiry gave a detailed overview of CSAFE’s pattern and digital evidence research. She also discussed how statistics could improve the analysis and interpretation of forensic evidence.

Excerpt from the article:

Q: What techniques and technologies have made this work possible? How do you expect ongoing technological advances to impact this work?

A: CSAFE benefits from tremendous expertise of internationally recognized statisticians, computer and software scientists, mathematicians, criminologists, and other scientists. The broad body of knowledge that those scientists bring to the table enable us to think creatively about the questions brought forth by forensic professionals. We rely on the newer tools of machine learning and algorithms together with the traditional statistical ideas of sampling, estimation, hypothesis testing, and design of experiments. Ongoing technological advances contribute to an improvement in the accuracy and precision with which we can measure attributes in pattern and digital evidence, but good measurements are not enough to answer forensic questions. Very precise measurements have existed in areas such as trace evidence examination, but the statistical methodology to draw conclusions from those precise measurements are still in development. The message here is that we should not conflate good measurement with good statistics; good measurements are necessary but not sufficient for us to answer whether, for example, two bullets were fired from the same gun barrel. For that, we also need to estimate the probability that we would observe two very similar sets of striations even if bullets were fired from different guns. This is what statistics can help with.

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