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Laura Mai
M.Sc. Genome Science & Technology
B.Sc. Cell Biology and Genetics

2009 Cohort

M.Sc. thesis defense: Friday, August 26, 2011

Since the 1980s when law enforcement first used DNA evidence to solve crimes, comparison of DNA profiles has become the accepted “gold standard” in forensic science for identification. However, approximately 5 – 10% of samples are known to fail as a result of DNA degradation caused by environmental stress, insufficient DNA yield in the extraction step, or contaminants carrying through the purification process. This ultimately makes obtaining a complete DNA profile very difficult and sometimes, nearly impossible. SCODA is a novel extraction method that utilizes electrophoretic forces to concentrate nucleic acids in a gel. Its unique capabilities allow it to separate nucleic acids, like DNA, from other molecules, which could include environmental contaminants like humic acids from soil, indigo dye from denim and various proteins. Therefore, the purpose of my project is to validate and potentially introduce SCODA as an alternative method for purifying trace amounts of DNA from difficult forensic exhibits.

Supervisors: Andre Marziali and David Sweet