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Just Science Podcast: Just the Impression and Pattern/Trace Evidence Portfolio

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2021

This second episode of the 2021 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Research and Development (R&D) and Beyond mini-season of NIJ’s Just Science podcast series is an interview with Dr. Gregory Dutton, a physical scientist in NIJ’s Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences, who discusses NIJ’s Impression, Pattern, and Trace Evidence research portfolio.


Background information for the interview notes that between latent fingerprints, firearms, footwear, paint analysis, and more, the NIJ Impression, Pattern, and Trace Evidence portfolio encompasses many forensic disciplines. As the scientist who oversees this portfolio, Dr. Dutton encourages innovative solutions to forensic problems. In this interview he discusses developing quantitative methods of comparison, the importance of collaboration among researchers and forensic service providers, and NIJ’s Impression, Pattern, and Trace Evidence research portfolio. Among the issues he discusses regarding NIJ’s research related to impression and pattern/trace evidence are collaboration among statisticians and forensic scientists in quantifying the probability of matches between evidence at a crime scene and evidence linked to a suspect. He also discusses the importance of maintaining information on changing features of manufactured items that may be involved in matching efforts, the maintenance of reference databases important to forensic science, and research on how evolutions in technology may be relevant to forensic science.