Forensic science

CSI: International Poachers’ Unit

A UW ace will show how he uses DNA to track ivory traffickers

April 21, 2009

On Wednesday, April 22 (that’s tomorrow, folks), Samuel Wasser, the director of the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology, will deliver a lecture on “Using DNA Forensics to Combat the Burgeoning Illegal Ivory Trade.” Sounds wonky, but it’s the stuff of Hollywood thrillers. Wasser and his team have developed breakthrough methods for extracting intact DNA from tusks and using it, together with an Africa-wide map of elephant genetics assembled from mountains of dung and blood samples, to trace smuggled ivory back to the countries where it was poached. They’re now working with Interpol in a globetrotting investigation of multi-million-dollar smuggled caches—an investigation reported for the first time anywhere in Seattle Metropolitan’s December 2006 feature “The Doctor of Doo.” We nominate Al Pacino (with Serpico grooming) to play Wasser.

Using DNA Forensics to Combat the Burgeoning Illegal Ivory Trade Wednesday, April 22, 6:30 to 8pm, Room A102, Physics/Astronomy Building, University of Washington. The lecture is free and open to the public. RSVP to 206-685-2185 or [email protected].

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