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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

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Forensic Science: Investigating the Real Profession

Evening Program

Wednesday, April 8, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1J0034

From popular television shows and true-crime podcasts to real-life cases, forensic science has long captured our interest and imagination. Given the wide representations of the field in entertainment and news—and the potential to mix fact and fiction—it’s often hard to know what forensic professionals actually do. (Are they all intrepid crime-solvers with complicated personal lives?)

Victor Weedn, a leading expert on forensic science, offers a comprehensive introduction to the fascinating history of forensic science and its basic methods, current controversies, and future.

Weedn traces the development of forensic medicine, forensic toxicology, and the first crime labs. He identifies the key figures who helped professionalize the field, and how it has been changed by fingerprint examination, chemistry and DNA instrumentation, and digital databases, as well as the attention drawn to it by the wildly popular “CSI” crime-show franchise. 

He examines the controversies and debates in the field today, dealing with forensic fraud, hair analysis errors, bite-mark analysis, and misleading statements by forensic expert witnesses. Weedn also looks at what the field is doing right, and how it continues to evolve, improve, and grow in influence.

Weedn is a forensic pathologist, attorney, and professor at George Washington University, where he teaches courses in forensic pathology, medicolegal death investigation, and criminal law.

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)