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What Is Forensic Science?
Forensic science is the application of sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology, computer science and engineering to matters of law. Forensic science can help investigators understand how blood spatter patterns occur (physics), learn the composition and source of evidence such as drugs and trace materials (chemistry) or determine the identity of an unknown suspect (biology).
Forensic science plays a vital role in the criminal justice system by providing scientifically based information through the analysis of physical evidence. During an investigation, evidence is collected at a crime scene or from a person, analyzed in a crime laboratory and then the results presented in court. Each crime scene is unique, and each case presents its own challenges.
NIJ’s Forensic Science Research and Development Portfolio
NIJ supports research and develop in the following forensic science disciplines:
NIJ’s forensic science research and development program focuses on basic and applied scientific research with the intent to:
- Direct the findings of basic scientific research in broader scientific fields applicable to forensic science.
- Apply forensic science research to the development of highly discriminating, accurate, reliable, cost-effective, rapid methods for the identification, analysis and interpretation of physical evidence.
- Expand the scientific basis of forensic methods.
- Produce useful materials, devices, systems or methods that have the potential for forensic application.
- Increase the body of knowledge to guide and inform forensic science policy and practice.
Expand the text below to see examples of scientific issues addressed by forensic science research and development.
Pattern and Impression Evidence: Quantifying “qualitative” comparisons
Forensic DNA Analysis: Keeping up with technological advances
Controlled substances and toxicology: Identifying new drugs
Forensic Science Pages
Forensic science topics on the NIJ website are divided into main categories and subtopics within each category. Use our topics tree to drill down into each topic and subtopic. See also our
law enforcement investigation pages for related topics.
Date Modified: April 23, 2019