Global change alters the distribution of species on Earth. It has, it will. Biogeographers typically discuss these shifts in light of conservation, biological invasion and agriculture. However, these are not the only contexts in which the shifting geography of life matters. These shifts also influence the ability of archaeologists, forensic biologists and other scholars to interpret the origin of bodies and other materials. It seems likely, however, that the combination of novel approaches in genomics, biogeography, and biomathematics has the potential both to begin to account for these shifts and, more generally, to propel the field of forensics forward in way that both rises to the challenges posed by global change and, simultaneously, alters the entire approach of forensics.
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), a risk-tolerant funding arm of the U.S. government, is now soliciting responses from scientists around the world as to what they perceive as the biggest barriers to doing a new kind of forensics, forensics that leverages the best of many fields in a world in which sequencing technology and the ability to deal with big data are becoming progressively easier.
You can see more about responding to the IARPA RFI here. IARPA will use these responses to judge interest among biogeographers, geneticists, evolutionary biologists and others in this new endeavor. IARPA likes to go big and if you would like to go big with them, here is your chance.
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