Digital DNA studies the changing relationships between digital technologies, DNA and evidence. It focuses on three developments in specific: (1) Hardware: It investigates how smaller and more mobile hardware influences the production of DNA evidence, and how DNA is used as hardware in computing. (2) Databases and analytic instruments: It studies how DNA databases and their algorithmic analysis influence the production of DNA evidence, and to what extent digital databases and algorithms are associated with evidence-based reasoning. (3) Information per se: It discusses how the ability to alter DNA influences the production of forensic evidence, and how DNA influences the concept of digital data.
The project has strong empirical components. In order to contribute to these, the candidate must have training in qualitative methods, as well as basic competences in sociological research on technology. Science and Technology Studies will be an important framework for studying these developments.
Together with Kaufmann, the candidate will work on developments (1) and (2) with a focus on the influence of digital hardware, databases and software on DNA evidence. Technologies studied in (1) could include hardware for 3D Forensic Facial Reconstruction or DNA sequencers for phenotyping at the crime scene. Developments studied in (2) would focus on the rise of public and private DNA databases and software used to analyze DNA. All studies take place in the UK and Norway. The candidate is not expected to have in-depth knowledge about these technologies from before. However, through interviews and fieldwork the candidate shall develop an understanding of how the technologies work and how they influence practices, opinions and results.
The candidate will get the chance to build an international network and participate in an exchange at Durham University. In the course of the project, the candidate will have the opportunity to meet key scholars in this field, who are part of the project’s Advisory Board.
The parts of the Digital DNA project description relevant to this position can be accessed here. Interested candidates are strongly advised to consult these before writing their project description.