Improving match probabilities in forensic DNA profiling

PhD defence, Friday 30 November 2018. Maria Simonsen Speed.

2018.11.30 | Olivia Elsebeth Belling-Nami

Maria Simonsen Speed.

During her PhD studies, cand.scient. Maria Simonsen Speed researched forensic match probabilities. When investigating a crime, examiners often wish to determine whether DNA found at the scene matches that of a suspect. For this they use DNA short tandem repeats (STRs) to calculate a match probability. The match probability measures the weight of evidence that an individual's DNA matches a DNA test from a crime-scene.

For more than 20 years, these probabilities have been calculated assuming the Balding-Nichols model, but the accuracy of these probabilities has never been fully investigated. Maria's research has shown that the Balding-Nichols model is not sufficiently flexible to model STR data, which raise a concern for the Balding-Nichols probabilities being used in real criminal cases. Therefore, Maria developed the new Pyramid model and corresponding Pyramid match probabilities. These probabilities are more accurate than those currently used, and therefore will be fairer to use in criminal cases.

Maria has additionally worked on determining the evolutionary history of the great apes and finding regions in the human genome with a high inheritance of human traits and diseases that help in the development of personalized medicine.

The PhD degree was completed at the Bioinformatics Research Centre (BiRC), Science and Technology, Aarhus University.

The resumé was prepared by the PhD student.

Time: Friday 30 November 2018 at 13:15
Place: Building 1110, room 223, BiRC, Aarhus University, C.F. Møllers Allé 8, 8000 Aarhus C.
Title of PhD thesis: Population genetic models for allele fraction data
Contact information: Maria Simonsen Speed, e-mail:, tel.: +45 20331617
Members of the assessment committee:
Associate Professor Paul Jenkins, Department of Statistics, University of Warwick, United Kingdom
CR1 Researcher Raphael Leblois, Center for Biology and Management of Populations, National Institute for Agronomical Research (CBGP - INRA), Montpellier, France
Director, Associate Professor Christian Storm Pedersen (chair), BiRC, Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University, Denmark
Main supervisor:
Associate Professor Asger Hobolth, BiRC, Aarhus University
Associate Professor Thomas Bataillon, BiRC, Aarhus University
Language: The PhD thesis will be defended in English

The defence is public.
The PhD thesis is available for reading at the Graduate School of Science and Technology/GSST, Ny Munkegade 120, buildings 1520 and 1521, 8000 Aarhus C.

PhD defence
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Olivia Elsebeth Belling-Nami

Revised 12.11.2018