The Week 95 Forensic Science Geek of the Week Challenge is Announced

The Forensic Science Geek of the Week

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Forensic Science Geek of the Week

The week 95 “ Forensic Science Geek of the Week” honors goes to: George Schiro


According to his website, the following is published:

George Schiro, MS, F-ABC is a con­sult­ing Foren­sic Sci­en­tist oper­at­ing a con­sult­ing com­pany called “Foren­sic Sci­ence Resources” located in Cade, LA. He received a Mas­ter of Sci­ence in Indus­trial Chemistry-Forensic Sci­ence which included five hours of credit in Foren­sic DNA Analy­sis of Bio­log­i­cal Mate­ri­als and accom­pa­ny­ing lab course, three hours of credit in Qual­ity Assur­ance and Bioin­for­mat­ics, three hours of credit in Bio­chem­istry, two hours of credit in Foren­sic Analy­sis of DNA Data, and three hours of credit in Exper­i­men­tal Sta­tis­tics Uni­ver­sity of Cen­tral Florida, Orlando, FL. He received his Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Micro­bi­ol­ogy includ­ing three hours of credit in Genet­ics from the Louisiana State Uni­ver­sity, Baton Rouge, LA. He holds a cer­tifi­cate of Pro­fes­sional Com­pe­tency in Crim­i­nal­is­tics, and is Fel­low of the Amer­i­can Board of Crim­i­nal­is­tics, Spe­cialty Area: Mol­e­c­u­lar Biology.

George Schiro is a foren­sic sci­en­tist with over 25 years expe­ri­ence. He has been court qual­i­fied as an expert in crime scene investigation/reconstruction, DNA analy­sis, shoeprint iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, blood spat­ter inter­pre­ta­tion, latent fin­ger­print devel­op­ment, serol­ogy, foren­sic sci­ence, tra­jec­tory recon­struc­tion, frac­ture match analy­sis, and hair com­par­i­son. He has qual­i­fied over 160 times in 30 Louisiana parish courts, two Louisiana city courts, fed­eral court, and county courts in Arkansas, Cal­i­for­nia, Florida, Mis­sis­sippi, Mis­souri, Nevada, New York, Texas and West Vir­ginia. He has also con­sulted on cases in 24 states, for the United States Army and Air Force, and the United King­dom. Through­out his career he has worked approx­i­mately 3200 cases.

His work has been fea­tured on TV shows and in books. He reg­u­larly con­sults with TVs and movies.

The CV of our Geek of the Week can be found here.

Congratulations to our Forensic Science Geek of the Week winner


1. What sort of concept is pictured above?

2. What forensic discipline is this from?

3. Are there any known controversies surrounding it?

Our Geek of the Week answered:

The con­cept pic­tured in the elec­tro­phero­grams is that low copy num­ber (LCN) poly­merase chain reac­tion (PCR) tech­niques may pro­duce DNA types that do not accu­rately reflect the actual source of the DNA. LCN typ­i­cally uses increased PCR cycle num­bers on extremely low amounts of tem­plate DNA.

This is from the dis­ci­pline of foren­sic DNA analysis.

The con­tro­versy sur­round­ing it is that the LCN tech­nique stretches the tech­nol­ogy beyond the manufacturer’s rec­om­mended PCR cycle num­ber and uses less tem­plate DNA than the manufacturer’s rec­om­mended amount. Some in the field believe that these stres­sors in the sys­tem will lead to inac­cu­rate DNA results since these DNA kits were not designed and devel­op­men­tally val­i­dated for LCN tech­niques. Oth­ers feel that with the proper inter­nal val­i­da­tion stud­ies and inter­pre­ta­tion guide­lines, LCN is an addi­tional use­ful technique.

[BLOGGER’S NOTE: There were two Honorable Mentions:

  • Christine Funk who wrote:
    “1. What sort of con­cept is pic­tured above?

    The phe­nom­e­non dis­played, peak height imbal­ance, allelic drop out and in, and high stut­ter occur when low lev­els of DNA are sub­jected to 31 ampli­fi­ca­tion cycles. DNA peak heights from a sin­gle source are expected to be approx­i­mately the same. They appear imbal­anced with low lev­els of DNA input. Alle­les also are known to ‘drop out’ (or dis­ap­pear from detec­tion) when test­ing low lev­els of DNA. Allelic drop in (I like to call them ‘Vol­un­teer alle­les’) can also show up when test­ing low lev­els of DNA. Finally, ‘stut­ter’ occurs dur­ing ampli­fi­ca­tion when a true chunk of DNA ‘breathes’, bend­ing out­ward and mak­ing a copy 4 base pairs less than the orig­i­nal. This copy is then repli­cated through­out the rest of the ampli­fi­ca­tion process. Typ­i­cally, stut­ter appears around 10 per­cent of the higher, true peak (give or take, depend­ing on the locus involved). ‘High stut­ter’ is yet another sto­chas­tic effect which occurs when test­ing low lev­els of DNA.

    2. What foren­sic dis­ci­pline is this from?

    foren­sic DNA testing.

    3. Are there any known con­tro­ver­sies sur­round­ing it?

    Ummm, yeah. Since we can rely on these effects occur­ring, but can­not reli­ably deter­mine when or in what form, inter­pret­ing low level DNA test results is sub­ject to mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion. The pres­ence or absence of alle­les can include or exclude pos­si­ble con­trib­u­tors. When alle­les drop out, or appear, or appear to be alle­les when they are truly stut­ter, inter­pre­ta­tion can be chal­leng­ing at best.”

  • Mehul B. Anjaria who wrote:
    “These are elec­tro­phero­grams asso­ci­ated with foren­sic DNA analy­sis. The results depicted here are from per­form­ing PCR on sam­ples of DNA using the Iden­ti­filer kit fol­lowed by cap­il­lary elec­trophore­sis. The elec­tro­phero­grams show ‘peaks’ rep­re­sent­ing instru­men­tal detec­tion of DNA. The peaks are sized, clas­si­fied, and labeled by soft­ware so that the types detected can be com­pared to the DNA types of known DNA samples.

    The Iden­ti­filer PCR process involves mak­ing copies of 16 areas of the DNA that are used for typ­ing and com­par­i­son and adding a flu­o­res­cent tag to these copies. In the nor­mal course of busi­ness the PCR process is run for 28 cycles using approx­i­mately 1 nanogram (1,000 picograms (pg)) of DNA.

    The results shown here are for very low lev­els of DNA. A diploid human cell will have approx­i­mately 6 pg of DNA, so the results shown are for typ­ing approx­i­mately 2–5 cells. This is referred to as ‘Low Copy Num­ber’ (LCN) DNA test­ing. In an effort to boost the sen­si­tiv­ity of the test­ing, the PCR cycles have been increased from 28 cycles to 31 to cre­ate a greater num­ber of copies of DNA for study.

    This is con­tro­ver­sial because it goes out­side of the bounds of the manufacturer’s rec­om­men­da­tions and unex­pected results occur rou­tinely. LCN is best lim­ited to care­ful use as an inves­tiga­tive lead due to the inher­ent issues. In fact, pro­to­cols for inter­pre­ta­tion fre­quently call for at least 3 runs of the test­ing to deter­mine which results are the most con­sis­tent within the 3 tests, and there­fore more likely to be reliable.

    The results show issues that can occur with LCN typ­ing. Essen­tially, you can lose infor­ma­tion, lose the abil­ity to judge whether a mix­ture is present, or even start see­ing irre­pro­ducible results sug­gest­ing spo­radic con­t­a­m­i­na­tion. In short, it is dif­fi­cult if not impos­si­ble to have strict inter­pre­ta­tion guide­lines for this sort of analy­sis since a range of expected out­comes is dif­fi­cult to delineate.”

  • Laura Magnuson who wrote: “Sto­chas­tic effects that ran­domly occur when PCR ampli­fy­ing low amounts of DNA using an increased num­ber of PCR cycles. The STR-typing kit, amount of DNA and num­ber of PCR cycles along with the cor­rect geno­type for each exam­ple are listed at the bottom.”]

The Hall of Fame for the Forensic Science Geek of the Week:

Week 1: Chuck Ramsay, Esquire

Week 2: Rick McIndoe, PhD

Week 3: Christine Funk, Esquire

Week 4: Stephen Daniels

Week 5: Stephen Daniels

Week 6: Richard Middlebrook, Esquire

Week 7: Christine Funk, Esquire

Week 8: Ron Moore, B.S., J.D.

Week 9: Ron Moore, B.S., J.D.

Week 10: Kelly Case, Esquire and Michael Dye, Esquire

Week 11: Brian Manchester, Esquire

Week 12: Ron Moore, B.S., J.D.

Week 13: Ron Moore, B.S., J.D.

Week 14: Josh D, Lee, Esquire

Week 15: Joshua Dale, Esquire and Steven W. Hernandez, Esquire

Week 16: Christine Funk, Esquire

Week 17: Joshua Dale, Esquire

Week 18: Glen Neeley, Esquire

Week 19: Amanda Bynum, Esquire

Week 20: Josh D. Lee, Esquire

Week 21: Glen Neeley, Esquire

Week 22:  Stephen Daniels

Week 23:  Ron Moore, B.S., J.D.

Week 24: Bobby Spinks

Week 25:  Jon Woolsey, Esquire

Week 26: Mehul B. Anjaria

Week 27: Richard Middlebrook, Esquire

Week 28:Ron Moore, Esquire

Week 29: Ron Moore, Esquire

Week 30: C. Jeffrey Sifers, Esquire

Week 31: Ron Moore, Esquire

Week 32: Mehul B. Anjaria

Week 33: Andy Johnston

Week 34: Ralph R. Ristenbatt, III

Week 35: Brian Manchester, Esquire

Week 36: Ron Moore, Esquire

Week 37: Jeffrey Benson

Week 38: Pam King, Esquire

Week 39: Josh D. Lee, Esquire

Week 40: Robert Lantz, Ph.D.


Week 42: Steven W. Hernandez, Esquire

Week 43:Ron Moore, Esquire

Week 44: Mehul B. Anjaria

Week 45: Mehul B. Anjaria

Week 46:Ron Moore, Esquire

Week 47:Ron Moore, Esquire

Week 47:Ron Moore, Esquire

Week 48: Leslie M. Sammis, Esquire

Week 49: Ron Moore, Esquire

Week 50: Jeffery Benson

Week 51: Mehul B. Anjaria

Week 52: Ron Moore, Esquire

Week 53: Eric Ganci, Esquire

Week 54: Charles Sifers, Esquire and Tim Huey, Esquire

Week 55: Joshua Andor, Esquire

Week 56: Brian Manchester, Esquire

Week 57: Ron Moore, Esquire

Week 58: Eric Ganci, Esquire

Week 59: Ron Moore, Esquire

Week 60: Brian Manchester, Esquire

Week 61: William Herringer, Esquire


Week 63: Ginger Moss

Week 64: Richard L. Holcomb, Esquire

Week 65: John L. Buckley, Esquire

Week 66: Jeff Sifers, Esquire

Week 67: Josh D. Lee, Esquire

Week 68: Dr. Barbara Vonderhaar, PhD.

Week 69: Christine Funk, Esquire

Week 70: Mehul B. Anjaria

Week 71: Ron Moore, Esquire

Week 72: Mehul B. Anjaria

Week 73: Josh D. Lee, Esquire

Week 74: Kim Keheley Frye, Esquire

Week 75: Mehul B. Anjaria and Peter Carini, Esquire

Week 76: Kim Keheley Frye, Esquire

Week 77: Mehul B. Anjaria

Week 78: Steven W. Hernandez, Esquire

Week 79: Kevin Feeney, Esquire

Week 8o: Justin Harris, Esquire


Week 82: Jay Tiftickjian, Esquire


Week 84: Steven W. Hernandez, Esquire

Week 85: Pat Arata, Esquire

Week 86: George Schiro

Week 87: Jay Tiftickjian, Esquire

Week 88: Rocky Babson, Esquire


Week 90: Joseph Rome, Esquire

Week 91: Chuck Ramsay, Esquire

Week 92: Laura Magnuson

Week 93: John L. Buckley, Esquire

Week 94: Unclaimed. It could be you!

Week 95: George Schiro

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