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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

UFS students excel at FPI awards
2009-06-04

 
Top students Annemarie Trinder-Smith and Renier de Bruyn
Photo: Supplied


Two top achievers from the Centre for Financial Planning Law at the University of the Free State (UFS) were crowned nationally as top students by the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa (FPI) at a gala ceremony at Emperor’s Palace, Johannesburg, on Tuesday night.

Annemarie Trinder-Smith, a financial planner at Christo Saayman Financial Planners, was the best student in the Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning, while Renier de Bruyn, financial advisor at PSG Consult (George) was the best student in the Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning.

They were among 461 students of the Centre for Financial Planning Law at the University of the Free State (UFS) who earlier received their postgraduate diplomas at a ceremony that formed part of the annual FPI convention.

The Centre for Financial Planning Law, which was established in 2001, was the first and for five years the only academic centre in South Africa to present a Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning. Today the UFS is still the only institution to present this course through distance learning. The UFS is currently the only institution that offers the Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning.

At the diploma ceremony hosted earlier by the UFS, the following students were named as top achievers in various modules of the Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning:
• Mylie Archibald (Financial Planning Environment, Corporate Financial Planning)
• Shaun Matthews (Personal Financial Planning)
• Nicolette van der Linde (Financial Planning Case Study). She also received an FPI prize as top student.

In the Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning, the following students were named as top achievers in various modules by the UFS. They also received FPI prizes in these modules:
• Megan Joan Anika (Fund Governance and Maintenance)
• Sarah Lynn James (Fund Design and Financing)
• Melanie Louw (Personal Risk Management)
• Renier de Bruyn (Estate Planning, Asset Types and Investment Planning)
• Jan Willem Wessels (Principles of Portfolio Planning and Management)

According to Adv Wessel Oosthuizen, Director of the Centre for Financial Planning at the UFS, large companies, banks, insurers and investment managers enroll their staff for these qualifications.

“The two diplomas form the basis for financial planners, brokers, lawyers and bankers to be recognized as certified financial planners - the CFP® status - as well as obtaining membership of the FPI.”

“A qualified financial planner, especially a CFP®, is one of the most sought-after titles in the financial planning sector worldwide. With about 3 700 CFP’s, South Africa has the fifth highest number of certified financial planners in the world,” Adv Oosthuizen said.

Adv. Oosthuizen is well-known nationally and internationally for his contribution to the advancement of financial planning law and financial planning education.

He was recently invited by the Financial Planning Standards Board to serve on an international committee that will evaluate the quality of education in financial planning. He was also the chairperson of a working group that developed guidelines for a standardised international curriculum for financial planners.

Media Release:
Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@ufs.ac.za
04 June 2009
 

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