Public Release: 

NIST chemist receives rare forensics award

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

John Butler, a research chemist at NIST, has been awarded the Scientific Prize of the International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG) for outstanding work on standardization and pioneering work on new DNA analysis technologies for forensic applications.

Few scientists have ever received the prize. The ISFG can award it as often as every two years, but only two other winners have been named during the past 12 years. The ISFG (http://www.isfg.org) promotes scientific knowledge in the field of genetic markers analyzed with forensic purposes. The society membership includes more than 900 scientists from 54 countries.

Butler was selected unanimously by the ISFG board based on his career achievements. He leads NIST's forensics/human identity testing project team and has been involved in the development of new methods and technologies for forensic DNA analysis at NIST and other organizations for the past 10 years. The ISFG specifically cited his work in improving analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms, tiny variations in DNA that can be used to identify individuals. He also was recognized for developing standards that have helped improve the reliability of DNA analyses by commercial, forensic and other laboratories. Most recently, Butler developed a concept for reducing the size of DNA fragments needed for a definitive identification,* which has proven useful in analyzing damaged or degraded DNA (see http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/newsfromnist_DNA.htm). Butler is the author of a leading textbook in the field, and in 2002 he received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

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