Michelle Peck Receives Rosalind Franklin Society Award in Science for Kintelligence Validation Study Published in Forensic Genomics

Award recognizes best paper by a woman or under-represented minority in science in each of Mary Ann Liebert Inc.’s 100 peer-reviewed journals.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – August 22, 2023 – The Rosalind Franklin Society has awarded Michelle Peck of Signature Science, LLC with the RFS Award in Science for her team’s Internal Validation of the Verogen ForenSeq Kintelligence Kit for Application to Forensic Genetic Genealogy, published in Forensic Genomics. This award is presented to the best paper by a woman or under-represented minority in science in each of the 100 peer-reviewed scientific journals housed under Mary Ann Liebert Inc., and honors the legacy of Dr. Rosalind Franklin whose critical contribution to the discovery of the DNA double helix structure was overlooked in her time.

In 1952, Dr. Franklin, a scientist at King’s College in London, used x-ray imaging to capture photographs, including the iconic ‘Photo 51,’ which revealed DNA’s criss-cross shape. Based on these images, fellow scientists James Watson and Francis Crick at Cambridge University determined that DNA exists as a double-helix polymer. Watson and Crick have historically been credited for the discovery and received a Nobel Prize for this work in 1962. In recent years, the scientific community has advocated for Dr. Franklin receiving proper recognition for her contribution to the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA. It is in this spirit that the Rosalind Franklin Society recognizes women and underrepresented minorities across the broader scientific community with their RFS Award.

“It is a real honor to receive this award, which pays tribute to Dr. Franklin’s esteemed work,“ said Ms. Peck. “She paved the way for female scientists and demonstrated the importance of collaboration among scientists. This validation was a collaborative effort for our team, and we hope it serves as a tool to other laboratories.” Ms. Peck led a multi-disciplinary team of forensic science researchers at Signature Science’s Center for Advanced Genomics (CAG) in this internal validation. The validation of the QIAGEN ForenSeq Kintelligence kit was conducted according to Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM) Validation Guidelines for DNA Analysis Methods and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Quality Assurance Standards (QAS). Within this validation, CAG researchers reliably generated DNA profiles with inputs as low as 50 picograms of genomic DNA and from challenging casework samples such as bones, fired shell casings, and adhesive tape. The published study now serves as a template for forensic laboratories adopting the ForenSeq Kintelligence kit for application to challenging forensic sample types, such as those often seen in forensic genetic genealogy cases.

“Under Michelle’s leadership, the CAG team took initiative to follow the quality standards and guidelines governing forensic science throughout their internal validation study in order to produce data that would be useful to the entire forensic community,” said Brian Schimmoller, Signature Science’s President and CEO. “While recognition is never the goal of scientific research, it is fitting that Michelle be recognized with the Rosalind Franklin Society Award for this contribution.”

Ms. Peck joined Signature Science as a Genomics Research Scientist in 2021 and serves as the QC/Validation Manager at the CAG in Charlottesville, VA. She received her M.F.S. from George Washington University in 2012, after completing a B.S. in Molecular Biology from Grove City College.

About Signature Science, LLC:
A subsidiary of the Southwest Research Institute, Signature Science, LLC is a scientific and technical consulting firm providing multi-disciplinary applied research, technology design and development, and scientific, technical, and operational services to government and industry.