The co-developer of STRmix™ – sophisticated forensic software used to resolve mixed DNA profiles previously thought to be too complex to interpret – has been awarded the Public Service Medal as part of 2021’s Australia Day Honors.
Dr. Duncan A. Taylor of Forensic Science SA (FSSA) was honored by Australia’s Governor-General, David Hurley, for his role in developing STRmix™ and “for outstanding public service to forensic DNA statistics.” The Australia Day Honors annually recognize and reward positive contributions made by Australian citizens.
Since its introduction in 2012, STRmix™ has been used to interpret DNA evidence in more than 220,000 cases worldwide. That number includes numerous U.S. court cases and more than 80 successful admissibility hearings.
Developed by Dr. Taylor, along with John Buckleton, DSc, FRSNZ, and Jo-Anne Bright of the New Zealand Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), STRmix™ has proven to be highly effective in producing usable, interpretable, and admissible DNA results in a wide range of criminal cases. It has also been instrumental in helping to solve cold cases in which evidence originally was dismissed as inconclusive and in exonerating individuals who have been wrongly associated as the source of crime scene evidence.
“As one of the foremost international experts in forensic DNA statistics, Dr. Taylor … has been vital to achieving appropriate justice outcomes through expert DNA evidence in some of South Australia’s most compelling criminal cases in recent times,” noted Governor-General Hurley in honoring Dr. Taylor.
STRmix™ is currently being used in 59 federal, state, and local forensic laboratories in the U.S., including the FBI and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Internationally, all nine state and territory forensic labs in Australia and New Zealand, as well as 14 labs in other countries including England, Scotland, Ireland, Finland, Denmark, and Canada, now use STRmix™.
A new version of STRmix™, STRmix™ Version 2.8, was launched late last year following nearly a year of extensive development and testing. STRmix™ v2.8 features a top-down approach that allows users to set the number of major contributors to a mixed DNA profile in which there is interest, and then obtain the LR only for those contributors. This approach enables users to tackle more complex profiles faster. The new version of STRmix™ also contains improved modelling and memory usage.
The team that created STRmix™ also recently launched two other products: an update of DBLR™, an application used with STRmix™ that allows users to undertake superfast database searches, visualize the value of their DNA mixture evidence, and carry out mixture to mixture matches, now allowing kinship analysis; and FaSTR™ DNA, expert forensic software that rapidly analyzes raw DNA data generated by genetic analyzers and standard profiling kits and assigns a number of contributors (NoC) estimate.
Together, STRmix™, FaSTR™ DNA, and DBLR™ complete the full workflow(external link) from analysis to interpretation and database matching.