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Research Areas


Since our beginning in 2015, CSAFE’s goals have been to develop the statistical foundations for pattern and digital forensics disciplines, build bridges between the community of forensic practitioners and academic researchers, and design and deliver training and educational programs tailored to a wide range of stakeholders.

To realize its mission, CSAFE emphasizes the following across all research areas:

  • Partnerships with forensic science laboratories and professional associations to address emerging issues and ensure two-way communication between the community of forensic scientists and the academic research community.
  • Integration of research advancements into professional practice by involving forensic science practitioners and laboratories in every stage of the research lifecycle.
  • Development and distribution of open-source software tools.
  • Construction of new datasets from our team and community partners that are made freely available.
  • Promotion of quantitative literacy among forensic scientists and the legal community through formal and informal training activities.
  • Distribution of information regarding research achievements to communities of interest through publications and conference presentations.
  • Collaboration between members of the forensic analysis community by inviting statisticians, scientists, and forensic practitioners to be part of our ongoing research opportunities.

research areas

Probability and Statistics for Pattern & Digital Evidence

CSAFE is assessing the evidence of foundational validity for different forensic disciplines, exploring the potential to construct probabilistic and statistical models for features of pattern and digital evidence, and applying statistical ideas to enhance laboratory operations and proficiency tests.

Cross-Cutting Issues

CSAFE is undertaking research questions that arise in multiple forensic domains, involving foundational issues in statistics and those associated with the implementation and practice of forensic analyses. Projects that address such questions can have a high impact on the forensic community.

Training & Education

CSAFE is contributing to training and education for a wide range of forensic science stakeholders, including forensic practitioners and law enforcement, lawyers and judges, statisticians and measurement scientists, students of all levels, and the public.

Collaboration Opportunities

Our research center is committed to applying proven statistical and scientific methods to improve the accuracy of the analysis and interpretation of forensic evidence. CSAFE provides immediate collaboration opportunities to help further this work, and we are currently seeking statisticians, scientists, forensic practitioners to collaborate with us in the following research areas:


Firearms and Toolmarks


Footwear Impressions


Latent Print Analysis


Bloodstain Pattern Analysis


Handwriting Analysis


Digital Evidence


CSAFE is a publicly funded organization headquartered at Iowa State University. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is one of the center’s providers, supporting CSAFE as a nationally recognized Center of Excellence in Forensic Sciences, NIST Award #70NANB15H176 and #70NANB20H019.

Please see the entire list of CSAFE projects partially funded by NIST.