A DNA analyst works in a crime lab and processes biological samples from different cases. The whole process of DNA analysis goes from: extraction, quantification, normalization and amplification, and analysis. It is often a misconception that the analyst’s that perform these processes go to the crime scene and collect the samples themselves, this does not happen. It is also commonly seen on TV that these processes take a matter of minutes, when in reality processing samples can take much longer. Instead DNA analysts receive evidence from crime units that actually go and process the scene.
A DNA analyst can have a job at the local, state, or federal level. It is also possible for a DNA analyst to work in a privately funded crime lab.
A DNA analyst often pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology, genetics, molecular biology, or forensic science. Then an analyst sometimes goes on to pursue a graduate degree.
DNA analysts often follow specific protocols and there is little room for opinion. They are usually detail oriented and follow instructions well. It is important that a DNA analyst have strong written and verbal communication as well.
It is important for a DNA analyst to stay current with technology and techniques, therefore it is common for an analyst to join professional organizations such as the American Academy of Forensic Science or the Association of Forensic DNA analyst and Administrators.
Another significant aspect for DNA analyst’s is the ability to testify in a trial. Often, analysts are called as an expert witness to testify to their process of DNA analysis. This is usually difficult because it is challenging to explain the DNA analysis process to people who do not have a strong understanding of science.
Overall, the job of a DNA analyst is essential to a crime lab and to criminal court cases.
by Marissa Felinczak