Forensic Scientist Dr. Candice Bridge Receives $324K Grant To Help Investigate Sexual Assault Cases
The ways in which rape and sexual assault cases are prosecuted in court are severely lacking. That’s if they’re ever prosecuted at all. There are thousands upon thousands of rape kits that go untested because of lack of funds and, to be honest, lack of interest in solving these cases.
But one woman is helping to change that. Candice Bridge, Ph.D, a professor at the University of Central Florida recently received a $324,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice to develop new forensic techniques that would help investigate sexual assault cases.
Dr. Bridge said, “This grant will enable us to conduct research into a unique new means of identifying perpetrators of sexual assault when traditional DNA evidence doesn’t exist. It’s an important line of research that has become even more important as rapists attempt to elude capture by covering their DNA tracks after an assault”
To develop this new technique, Dr. Bridge will have access to instruments currently only available to the FBI and a limited number of forensic laboratories at the federal and state levels. The instruments help to identify rapists by using evidence that doesn’t include DNA. Dr. Bridge currently works alongside a research group of 11 students that investigate lubricants used in sexual assault.
In order to receive the grant Dr. Bridge conducted preliminary research to prove to the National Institute of Justice that there is sufficient information to distinguish between lubricant samples and that a database of those distinguishing markers could benefit the community.
Dr. Bridge will use the grant money to support her postdoctoral research and one fellowship for a PhD graduate student. The grant will provide a student stipend, cover tuition, fees and materials.
In addition to her work in the lab, Bridge received a contract with the Orlando Public Defender’s Office to develop a website to instruct prosecution and defense attorneys on how to analyze her forensic results. The site seeks to educate the Central Florida court system on the limitations and possibilities of forensic science.
Dr. Bridge has also received an In-House Award from the University of Central Florida that will provide seed money for another research idea that seeks to explore how the human body can degrade lubricants prior to forensic analysis.
Candice Bridge first discovered her passion for chemistry when she was 13-years-old and pursued that passion, receiving her BS degree in chemistry at Howard University before obtaining her PhD in analytical chemistry from the University of Central Florida at 25-years-old. Dr. Bridge was one of the first to receive a forensic PhD in the country and the first, Black woman to teach chemistry at Howard University and the University of Central Florida.
We sure with a background like this, there will be much more to come from her.