The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced the approval of up to $20 million grant over five years to set up a Forensic Science Center of Excellence based at Iowa State University.

NIST announced the grant at the 46th Annual Training Seminar of the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners held on Monday in Dallas.

The goal of launching the new center is to reinforce the scientific basis to improve statistical analysis of forensic evidence, which is crucial in the criminal justice system.

Iowa State University will lead the center partnered with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and the University of California in Irvine.

The center will focus on the study to improve the statistical basis to analyze fingerprint, firearm, tool mark, dental and evidences in other patterns. Computer, video, audio and other digital evidence will be analyzed in the new center.

“The work of the center will help reduce measurement errors and increase confidence in the results achieved with improved statistical tools and methods,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Willie E. May.

The new center, pending approval by the Iowa Board of Regents, will begin as the third NIST Center of Excellence focused solely on forensic sciences.

“We’re proud that Iowa State is leading this new national center,” stated Iowa State President Steven Leath. “This center will do important scientific research for the country’s law enforcement and criminal justice systems. This is one more example of Iowa State researchers working to meet today’s biggest challenges.”


Photo Credit: Cpl. James P. Johnson, U.S. Army,  Released by NIST website



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