Forensic Hair Research Wins Recognition for NCFS Graduate Student

A forensics graduate student has earned the Forensics Sciences Foundation’s Emerging Forensic Scientist Award for his research on hair and color texture analysis.

The research provides a quantitative method to analyze texture and color in hair strands. Associate Professor of Chemistry and Forensic Science Candice Bridge, Ph.D., characterizes David Funes’ research as a “solid step forward” for quantifying hair features. Funes’ research allows forensic labs to further understand how to differentiate individuals by using scientific methods like texture entropy measurements (measuring hair pigmentation )

“I felt a sense of validation when they rewarded me because it means my research is recognized and it encourages me to work more on analyzing hair,” Funes said.

Bridge says the reward is important as it validates and elevates Funes’ work, as well as highlighting his South American roots, with her and Funes representing the few underrepresented scientists within the forensic science field. A survey distributed to the Anthropology Section members of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) in 2018 demonstrated that 32.4% self-identified as a member of an underrepresented group.

“I’m a full proponent of having diversity of background because it brings diversity of thought,” Bridge said. “Having that diversity of thought is what elevates the research.”

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2014 and 2024, there will be a 27 percent increase in open positions for forensic science technicians. The National Institute of Justice explains how the forensic sciences field advocates for more employment within the forensic sciences field as do Funes and Bridge, who believe that there should be more representation overall.




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