Population genetic questions in forensic familial searching

The radicalized youth of the Nielsen lab are on a mission to make our research broadly accessible and understandable.

Because science is often presented opaquely and is given immense value/weight in our dominant culture, scientific argument can be used as a rhetoric technique to obscure reasoning and justify a particular agenda preferred for non-scientific [political/social/economic/whatevs] reasons.  (There are tons examples, for starters, consider the eugenics movement.)  As the mystique of scientific research dissipates and assumptions, findings, and limitations inherent in the scientific process become clear, our communities are more able to develop informed perspectives on scientific research and applications which affect us.

To this end!, (like Melissa said) we’ve started a couple projects which we’re really excited about.  The first is an ongoing collaboration with a phenomenal biology teacher at Berkeley High School.  We work together to design and teach topical lessons, augmenting the curriculum to include cutting-edge research and real-life connections.  Serendipitously, this week I’m teaching some lessons on the mechanics of forensic genetic identification and potential pitfalls.  (We do hope to make our materials publicly available during a high school science teacher workshop we’re planning for this summer.  Stay tuned!)

Another project we’re really into is making short videos describing our work in plain language.  The idea is that when we publish a scientific manuscript, we’ll put out a companion video presenting the same research to a general audience.  So!, without further ado, here’s our first installment.

Questions? Suggestions? Let’s hear it! Feel free to check out our [open access!] technical manuscript for all the juicy details.

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