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Just Science Podcast: Episode 31: 2018 IPTES: Just Nature's Patterns

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2018
0 pages

This podcast consists of an interview with John Vanderkolk from the Indiana State Crime Laboratory, who discusses the importance of challenging one's teachers in the expansion of forensic knowledge, as well as how nature's patterns are apparent throughout friction-ridge evidence.


The interview opens with a discussion of Vanderkolk's educational and work experience that preceded and has informed his work as the manager of the Indiana State Crime Laboratory. One focus of his laboratory management experience is his interaction with lab forensic examiners with highly specialized forensic knowledge and experience he as the lab manager does not have. In such an interaction, the lab worker becomes the teacher and the lab manager the student. In such and interaction, Vanderkolk recommends a balance of trust in the lab worker's knowledge and experience and the lab manager's questioning of the knowledgeable worker about any issues that do not seem clear or logical from his perspective. Such a balance of trust and questioning facilitates the lab manager's growth in knowledge about each lab worker's expertise, and the lab worker matures in the skill of clarifying the basis of her/his specialized field. The interview with Vanderkolk then turns to the importance of identifying and using patterns in nature that are distinctive between persons and other natural manifestations. A case example is provided regarding a case handled by the Indiana State Crime Laboratory in which a piece of evidence required the lab to examine nature's patterns in the skin of the human elbow. A series of lab experiments concluded that nature's pattern in the skin of each elbow is distinctive to that elbow, leading to the placement of the suspect at the crime scene.

Date Published: February 1, 2018