Egenis seminar with Dr Chris Lawless 'Emerging Forensic DNA Technologies: Risks, Realities and Representations'
Dr Chris Lawless, Teaching Fellow, Institute for Study of Science, Technology and Innovation (ISSTI), University of Edinburgh
University of Exeter,Egenis,Byrne House,St Germans Road,Exeter, EX4 4PJRoom no: GF7, Byrne House
Time: 3:00 - 4:30 pm
This study focuses on the challenges of incorporating emerging forensic technologies into the criminal justice system. The highly complex nature of many such technologies present significant challenges to existing judicial framings of ‘science’. Highlighting one notable example, I draw upon court cases, technical and official literature, and interview data to present an account of the complicated and contested history of 'Low Template Number' (LTN) DNA profiling. I demonstrate how this example highlights the complexities present in collective constructions of ‘admissible’ scientific evidence. Recent studies by STS authors have questioned the independence of science from the institutional settings in which it may be embedded. While broadly aligning with such arguments, I show how the LTN controversy reveals the need to move beyond localized framings. I argue instead that a consideration of broader institutional dynamics is needed to provide a more systematic account of interactions between technology and criminal justice.
Biographical Details – Dr Christopher Lawless
I originally trained as a biochemist, gaining a BSc in Biochemistry and Microbiology (Sheffield) and an MRes in Instrumentation Systems (University College London). Following a period working in research science I made the transition to the social sciences via an MA with Distinction in International Relations (Sheffield). I then completed a PhD at Durham University under the supervision of Professor Robin Williams, focusing on the sociology of forensic scientific reasoning.
I have recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation (CARR) at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where I continue to be based. I continue to research sociological issues related to forensic science, and also on risk regulation issues associated with aviation safety and security. I have advised a number of official bodies on related matters, including the Home Office and the Scottish Government.