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Last modified: Thursday, April 7, 2011

Internationally recognized DNA expert's public address to note how technology can pervert justice

April 7, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- An internationally recognized forensic geneticist who has worked on the successful exonerations of seven people will present a free, public lecture at Indiana University on how DNA is used to free the wrongly convicted and how informatics is being misused to pervert justice.

Greg Hampikian

Internationally recognized DNA expert Greg Hampikian will present a free, public lecture April 15 at IU Bloomington entitled "Stay of Execution: Forensic Bioinformatics and the Innocence Movement."

Boise State University Professor Greg Hampikian, who holds joint appointments in biology and criminal justice, will speak Friday, April 15, on the IU Bloomington campus as part of the IU School of Informatics and Computing Colloquium Series. He is the co-author of Exit to Freedom, which documents Calvin Johnson's successful fight to prove his innocence after serving 17 years of a life sentence in a Georgia prison. Hampikian will sign copies of the book following his presentation from 3-4 p.m. in room 102 of Lindley Hall.

Hampikian, a board member of the Georgia Innocence Project and founder and director of the Idaho Innocence Project, is also one of several DNA experts who called into question the DNA evidence used to convict American college student Amanda Knox in the 2007 murder and sexual assault of Meredith Kercher in Italy. In the past year, Italian judges have ordered a retrial for Knox and a reexamination of the DNA evidence used in the original trial.

The topic for Hampikian's IU Bloomington visit will be "Stay of Execution: Forensic Bioinformatics and the Innocence Movement."

"Forensic DNA has the power to correct wrongful convictions, but the misapplication of statistics reverses this effect," he said. "As we transition from the Information Age to the 'Too Much Information Age,' informatics is not just the key to complex scientific questions, but it is also the key to our freedom."

A sought-after lecturer who has led workshops and given presentations across America and overseas at institutions such as Harvard University, The University of Georgia Law School, The University of Connecticut Advanced Genetics Technology Center, The Pasteur Institute in Paris, the Medical Research Council in Edinburgh, Scotland, and St. Mary's Hospital in London, Hampikian has designed a presentation for the general public that touches on topics related to informatics, biology and criminal justice.

Before arriving at Boise State University he held research and teaching positions at Yale University Medical School, Emory University, Georgia Tech, La Trobe University in Australia, and at the Centers for Disease Control. His laboratory at BSU has pioneered the study of DNA sequences not found in nature, which he has named "nullomers."

His research and outreach activities have been covered by Science, New Scientist, the Wall Street Journal, Time, Fox News, CNN, and Good Morning America, and his work has been published in leading scientific journals such as Nature and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Hampikian has worked on hundreds of cases in the U.S. and Europe, including seven exonerations and two current stays of execution issued just hours before scheduled death sentences were to be carried out.

Lindley Hall is located at 150 S. Woodlawn Ave., Bloomington, and copies of Exit to Freedom will be on sale for $19.95 each following the presentation.

For more information, please contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or