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

Honorary doctorate to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu attracts wide attention
2011-01-27

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu after receiving his honorary doctorate in Theology at the UFS.
- Photo: Hannes Pieterse

 

The University of the Free State (UFS) awarded an honorary doctorate to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on Thursday, 27 January 2011. The graduation ceremony, which was attended by guests from across the country marks a milestone in the history of the university.

Amongst the guests were the ambassador of the USA to South Africa, Mr Donald Gips; the British High Commissioner to South Africa, Dr Nicola Brewer; members of the local government; Ms Barbara Hogan, former Minister of Public Works and the daughters of Bram Fischer, Ruth Fischer-Rice and Ilse Fischer-Wilson. Friends of Dr Tutu, Dr Ahmed Kathrada, Ms Barbara Hogan and Dr Allan and Ms Elna Boesak also attended the occasion.
 
The UFS also received a message of congratulations from the Deputy President of South Africa, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe. “The choice to honour this exemplar of virtue to which most of the world still look for direction as it buckles under social, political and economic difficulties is laudable in all respects,” he said.
Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, said: “We honour a great son of South Africa who made a tremendous contribution to peace, reconciliation and justice in South Africa and in the world.
 
“There were times when few of us thought apartheid would end in our lifetime, yet you stood as a rock reassuring us, not about a black future, but about our common future. For this reason, Arch, we would not miss this opportunity to honour you for any reason whatsoever.
 
“You, Sir, are a Jew among Muslims, a Christian among Hindus, a Catholic among Anglicans, a bridge-builder among all of us. That is why we love you; because you look deeper and see further than all of us.”
 
According to Prof. Francois Tolmie, Dean of the UFS’s Faculty of Theology, the university honours Dr Tutu for his contribution as theologian – through his teaching and the books he wrote – as well as for the role he played in bringing about reconciliation in South Africa as well as in the rest of the world. The university also honours Dr Tutu as a moral and spiritual leader who never sacrificed his integrity as a Christian.
 
Apart from being a church leader and a leading world figure, Dr Tutu is the author of several books and also held a number of teaching posts at various tertiary institutions.
 
In 1984, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his role as a unifying leader figure in the campaign to abolish apartheid in South Africa. A further highlight in his career was his election as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1986. He was the first black African to serve in this position, which placed him at the head of the Anglican Church in South Africa.  
 
Many South Africans also remember the role he played when President Nelson Mandela appointed him in December 1995 to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was established to investigate human rights violations during the apartheid era. The Archbishop guided the nation in the process of choosing forgiveness over revenge and in so doing set a historic international precedent.   
 
In 1996, he retired as Archbishop of Cape Town but continues to speak out in favour of human rights, equality and social justice in South Africa and throughout the world.
 
In August 2009, President Barack Obama presented him with the Medal of Freedom, the United States of America’s highest civilian honour. Dr Desmond Tutu is recognised around the world as a moral leader committed to the human rights of all people.
 
Today he is chairman of The Elders, a group of world leaders who, in view of their integrity and leadership, are equipped to deal with some of the world’s most pressing problems.
 
Prof. Tolmie says: “It is often asked how Dr Tutu could have achieved all this in the span of one lifetime. Some people would refer to his warm personality or his humanness, his deep sense of humility or his wonderful sense of humour. Probing a little deeper, however, one is struck by Dr Tutu’s deep relationship with God. He is known as a man of faith, a man of prayer. He lives his life coram Deo, in the presence of God.”
 
Dr Tutu also lead the introduction ceremony of the UFS’s International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice.
 
 
Media Release
27 January 2011
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication (actg)
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za
 

 

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