Do Fingerprints Tell the Truth?

Join us for a discussion with forensic scientists on the latest scientific techniques used in criminal investigation.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


November 02, 2012 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-07:00)

Fingerprints, DNA, footwear, and even ears are sources of the many traces left behind by criminals that labs search for on a crime scene. Modern techniques are necessary to detect, reveal, collect, and analyze these numerous clues. But are these types of evidence always trustworthy, especially in the courtroom? Are they usually accurate, or only just occasionally?

Christophe Champod, professor of forensic science at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, who currently works in Washington, D.C., and Joelle Vuille, researcher at the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society of UC Irvine, will discuss with a crime writer, the challenges of fingerprint and other body trace analyses. This event is part of the official program of the Bay Area Science Festival (BASF).


6:30 pm  doors open
7:00 pm  panel discussion and audience Q&A
8:30 pm  reception, networking, and book signing
9:30 pm  doors close


Christophe Champod

Christophe Champod received his master’s of science and doctorate, both in forensic science, from the University of Lausanne, and remained in academia until reaching the position of assistant professor of forensic science. From 1999 to 2003, he led the Interpretation Research Group of the Forensic Science Service (UK), before taking a professorship position at the School of Criminal Sciences (ESC)/Institute of Forensic Science (IPS) of the University of Lausanne. He is in charge of education and research on identification methods, and is the vice director of the ESC, in charge of the Institute of Forensic Science. His research is devoted to the statistical evaluation of forensic identification techniques.


Lyn Weggenman-O’Connor

Sergeant Lyn Weggenman-O’Connor joined the San Francisco Police Department in 1998. She has served with the Crime Scene Investigations Unit for the past 10 years and is a renowned expert in fingerprint identification and blood spatter interpretation. She has processed more than 3,000 crime scenes and has testified dozens of times in federal courts, superior courts, and grand juries as an expert in fingerprint and blood spatter analysis. Sgt. Weggenmann-O’Connor is a member of the International Association for Identification and is a Certified Senior Crime Scene Analyst. She is also a native San Franciscan.


Joëlle Vuille

Joëlle Vuille is a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Irvine. She holds a master’s degree in Swiss law and a doctorate in criminology from the University of Lausanne. She has written book sections, articles, and scientific reports in the fields of admissibility of scientific evidence and its evaluation by the courts, and the use of probabilities in judicial context. She regularly gives conferences and short talks on those topics in academic settings and at international institutions, including the Council of Europe, INTERPOL, and the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes.


Michael Todd

Michael Todd is the online editor for Pacific Standard (formerly known as Miller-McCune), a magazine and website focused on the social sciences. Most of his professional life has been spent in journalism as a reporter and editor at newspapers ranging from the Marshall Islands to tiny California farming communities. Before joining the publishing arm of the Miller-McCune Center, he was managing editor of the magazine Hispanic Business.
He will moderate the discussion.


This event is presented in association with the Bay Area Science Festival presented by Chevron. This 10-day celebration of science & technology, organized by UCSF – Science and Health Education Partnership, occurs annually across the Bay Area.

For more information on the 50 events, visit the website.


Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos