DNA analysts -- sometimes called forensic biologists -- play a key role
in the investigation of violent crimes. They collect, test and analyze blood
samples to help provide critical evidence of how a crime happened and who
People who do this work used to be known as forensic serologists. Most
agree this term is now outdated. That's because it deals only with blood.
Today's DNA analysts also look at samples of hair, saliva and other biological
A DNA analyst's work begins when a crime is reported. If the lead investigator
feels it is necessary, they will be brought in before the scene is disturbed.
They may notice something about the blood stain patterns that indicates a
struggle or shows how many people were involved, for example.
After samples are collected, the analysts can return to the lab to produce
a DNA profile of the samples found at the scene. They'll want to determine
whether the samples belong to the victim or a possible suspect. If the DNA
matches a suspect's, there is a very high probability the suspect was at the
scene of the crime.
Usually, DNA analysts are most interested in the so-called DNA fingerprint
left behind in the blood. DNA is a long strand of "code." And because every
person's DNA is unique, matching the DNA from a suspect's blood with blood
found at a crime scene can help ensure a conviction or prompt a suspect to
DNA analysts work as part of a team that includes field investigators,
detectives and others who work in the various disciplines of forensics.
In addition to field and lab work, DNA analysts spend some time in courtrooms,
testifying before juries or judges about what their work has produced. Because
they need to be called as soon as a crime is discovered, they sometimes work
weekends or late nights. Otherwise, they usually work a standard workday.