NEST Project Overview

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Marshall University Forensic Science Center (MUFSC) is the host site of the National Institute of Justice Expert Systems Testbed (NEST) Project, a program developed to support the national forensic DNA community in the review of data. At the MUFSC, the NEST Project Team is responsible for the evaluation of commercially available expert systems for single-source samples and software tools for mixture deconvolution with casework samples.

The NEST Project Team is on the cutting edge of supplying the latest information on expert systems and deconvolution tools through presentations, demonstrations, workshops, and reference materials.

Evaluation of Single Source Samples

Analyst working with an expert system

Expert systems are software programs or a suite of software programs that are used to rapidly process DNA data and generate final DNA results. Expert systems have the potential to reduce or eliminate backlogs of unanalyzed data, thereby streamlining DNA analysis and increasing the number of profiles available for import into CODIS.

During Phase I, the NEST Project Team evaluated three expert systems focused solely on single source samples and conducted 16 demonstration sessions for state and local crime laboratories nationwide. This phase of the project concluded with a report entitled Expert Systems: High Throughput Analysis of Single Source Samples for Forensic DNA Databasing submitted to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in May, 2006.

Evaluation of Mixture Deconvolution Tools

Phase II, is the evaluation of the mixture deconvolution tools. DNA profiles from two contributor mixtures and other simulated mock casework scenarios have been analyzed for evaluation with these mixture deconvolution tools. Further, the Project Team will be evaluating the features and limitations of each of the software systems currently available.

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MUFSC is hosting Phase II of the NEST Project as a partner in the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence. Phase II of the project is supported by Award No. 2007-MU-BX-K008, and Phase I is supported by Award No. 2005-MU-BX-K020 through the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed by this project do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.

To learn more about the National Institute of Justice please visit their official website.