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Forensic analysis of DNA has revolutionized crime scene investigations. DNA evidence from trace human tissues is used routinely both to exonerate and convict individuals accused of crimes. DNA has also been used in a number of high-profile criminal investigations to study pathogens that have been transmitted through criminal intent or activity.

These investigations have captured the imagination of Hollywood, but are depictions of DNA forensics in movies and on TV accurate? Evolutionary biologist and A.D. White Professor-at-Large David Hillis looks at the science behind crime scene investigations, and the possibilities and limitations of DNA forensics, as well as some of the new applications being developed for understanding human health and the biodiversity of the world we live in.