Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Previous Archive
16 October 2020 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Supplied
Kyla Dooley, runner-up in this year’s Three-minute thesis competition, wants to pursue a career working alongside police enforcement, using her knowledge of forensics to solve criminal cases and convict perpetrators.

When rapes and sexual assaults are committed, DNA evidence can play a large role in convicting the offenders. DNA evidence collected from sexual crimes can, according to Kyla Dooley, often be tricky to analyse.

Kyla has just completed her master’s degree, specialising in Forensic Genetics, at the University of the Free State (UFS). She not only thrives in this field – graduating at the top of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences in 2018 when she was awarded the Dean’s Medal – but her work also brought her the runner-up position in this year’s Three-minute thesis competition. 

She talked about her research on the use of male-specific DNA in the analysis of DNA evidence collected after crimes of a sexual nature have been committed.

Explaining her research, Kyla elaborates: “In most cases, the victim is female, while the offender is male. Therefore, the evidence is often a mixture of male and female DNA and this can make it difficult to analyse the male DNA and match it to a male suspect.”

She believes the solution to this is to target male-specific DNA in analysis. “This eliminates all female DNA and simplifies the process,” says Kyla.

“Unfortunately, male-specific DNA technology is not currently used in South Africa, because the DNA regions tested to date haven’t shown much success in distinguishing between males in our population,” Kyla points out.

“The goal is now to use DNA evidence, to match it to a suspect, and have the confidence that it came from him and only him. Or else defence lawyers could argue that it came from someone else in the population,” she says.

Improving DNA evidence

Therefore, Kyla’s research focused on evaluating a new group of male-specific DNA regions, which are to be tested yet, to see if it would be a viable option for use in South Africa. 

“I achieved this by collecting DNA samples from men on campus, processing them to obtain DNA profiles, and then determining how well these regions can distinguish between the men. The results of my research demonstrate the potential of these DNA regions to improve the use of DNA evidence when investigating sexual assaults in South Africa,” says Kyla.

She believes her study can play a role in increasing the conviction rate of sexual offenders, which could lead to a reduction in South Africa’s alarmingly high rape statistic. 

“Everyone in South Africa is affected by this horrific crime in some way or another, so the benefits of this would be widespread,” she says.

Solving crimes

Although Kyla will one day pursue further studies, she is ready for the next stage in her life. “I am in the process of applying for jobs and getting ready to dive into the real world. I’ll definitely be pursuing a career working alongside police enforcement to solve criminal cases and convict perpetrators of such crimes. Working for the NYPD in the USA or Scotland Yard in the UK is the ultimate dream job,” she says.

“I chose my field not only because the forensics world absolutely fascinates me, but also because I want to make a difference. I want to play a role in getting justice for those affected by violent crimes. One simple process in a forensic scientist’s everyday routine could be a life changer for a victim of crime,” believes Kyla.

 

 


News Archive

Award-winning architect firm presents the 29th Sophia Gray Memorial Lecture and Exhibition
2017-09-07

  Description: Arch break Tags: Sophia Gray Memorial Lecture and Exhibition, Elphick Proome Architects, South African Institute of Architects

At the Sophia Gray Bursary Fund breakfast, were from the left:
Henry Pretorius, head of the UFS Department of Architecture,
AJ Corbett, and Boipelo Morule, third-year student
in Architecture and Prof Francis Petersen, UFS Rector
and Vice-Chancellor, 
at the UFS
Photo: Stephen Collett

The laureates of this year’s Sophia Gray Memorial Lecture were George Elphick and Nicholas Proome from the award-winning architecture firm, Elphick Proome Architects (EPA). Over the past 28 years this Durban firm has received 26 awards and its work has been published in 26 magazines.  

From bedroom to boardroom
EPA is involved in major corporate architecture as well as several residential projects. It believes that good design is produced from careful study and research combined with sound technical knowledge and artistic judgement. At the 29th Sophia Gray lecture, presented by the Department of Architecture at the University of the Free State, EPA addressed the Bloemfontein community, stating that architecture was about people, space and light. 

For EPA, architecture is the form of art with the most impact on society. “Ultimately, our architecture needs to be enjoyed and be hard to forget,” it said. 

In its three decades of practice, most of EPA’s built work has been executed in South Africa. It has also completed projects beyond South African borders, including Mozambique, Kenya, Ghana, and France. 

The lecture was followed by the opening of the 29th Sophia Gray Memorial Exhibition at Oliewenhuis Art Museum.

New PhD in Architecture with Design announced
A highlight at this year’s lecture was the announcement by Henry Pretorius, the head of the department, of a new and innovative doctoral programme, the PhD in Architecture with Design. From 2018, students with a MArch (professional) or MArch can enrol for this postgraduate qualification.

“The programme recognises the intelligence and ingenuity of design. Its primary objective is to harvest and study the implicit orientations, operations, and achievements of design, and to enlist creativity in the formation of new knowledge. The degree facilitates analytical reflection, stimulates creative action, and opens new insights into the unique logic of design,” said Pretorius.

“Although design-based research has gained international momentum in recent years, similar research has not been done in South Africa until now.”

Contribution to the Sophia Gray Bursary Fund 
During a breakfast function, the department also announced another initiative, the Sophia Gray Bursary Fund. Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor at the UFS, said that the type of architecture in developing countries was different from places such as New York and other big cities in developed countries. For a transformed profession we need architects from different cultures and demographics in the system. The bursary fund was a fantastic starting point for this to happen. 

The Sophia Gray Bursary Fund initiative is part of a greater call to alumni and friends of the department to be actively involved in the department’s continuous development and future endeavours towards imagination, care, and excellence.
AJ Corbett, founder and director of TCN Architects in East London, made the first contribution towards the fund. 

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept