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NIJ Funding: Supporting Emerging Scientists, Building Our Future

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2016
5 pages
Publication Series
John M.Butler - Special Assistant to the Director for Forensic Science in the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST's) Special Programs Office - discusses his experiences in criminal justice research over the last 20 years, with attention to how the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) support for research has made a difference in his life and in forensic science.
In discussing his first experience with NIJ funding support, he cites a $70.000 NIJ grant awarded to the University of Virginia in 1993, which changed the world of forensic DNA testing and began his personal journey in the field of forensic science. This grant enabled two analytical chemists to include a graduate student (Butler) in this work on the new forensic method. The grant covered Butler's supplies, travel from the University of Virginia to Quantico, where the research was being conducted, and college tuition for 2 years. This led to his involvement in additional DNA-related research at the FBI Laboratory at Quantico. In February 1994, he presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences his research on the mtDNA quantitation technique he developed at Quantico. Butler then discusses the role NIJ funding has continued to have in his career in research on DNA and its uses in criminal justice investigations. In discussing lessons he has learned over the course of his career, he notes the importance of ongoing discussions between laboratory-based forensic scientists and representatives of NIJ regarding the prioritization of problems to be solved and challenges to be addressed. Also, once research is completed, training workshops must be conducted to transfer research results into practice. He concludes with advice to graduate students and their professors about the launching of careers in forensic science research.

Date Published: January 1, 2016