Black Female Professor Gets Grant For Forensic Research

Howard’s Black female professor of chemistry, Candice Bridge has received $324,000 grant to explore improved investigation methods in rape cases.

A Black female professor has been awarded a huge grant to improve techniques for investigating rape. Candice Bridge, an educator at the University of Central Florida, received $324,000 from the National Institute of Justice to review methods for catching suspects of sexual-assault crimes aside from DNA evidence, according to Atlanta Black Star.

The grant will give Bridge access to exclusive tools utilized by the FBI and a few government laboratories. Then, Black female professor will research with 11 students to review lubricants exchanged during sexual assaults. Additionally, the group will study toxicology, drugs and gunshot debris.

In a press release, Bridge noted the importance of reviewing forensic science practices.

This grant will enable us to conduct research into a unique new means of identifying perpetrators of sexual assault when traditional DNA evidence doesn’t exist,” she said. “It’s an important line of research that has become even more important as rapists attempt to elude capture by covering their DNA tracks after an assault.”

An award from the NIJ in forensic science is particularly significant as it’s the primary agency for advancing forensic science through research.”

But the hefty grant isn’t the only award Bridge received. Her In-House Award from UCF will allow her to research the ways the body breaks down lubricants before forensic investigations can occur. Additionally, Bridge will create a website through the Orlando Public Defender’s Office that will give defense lawyers and prosecution more resources about forensic science analysis.

Bridge’s achievements have been developing ever since her interest in chemistry began at 13 years old. She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Howard University and later got her forensic science-focused Ph.D. from UCF, becoming one of the first in America to earn that particular degree. Bridge went on to be the first Black female to teach chemistry at both of her alma maters.

Dr. Bridge will be working with instrumentation currently only available to the FBI and a limited number of federal and state forensic laboratories, to investigate ways to identify rapists by means other than DNA evidence, the Rolling Out reports. Bridge works alongside her research group of 11 students that investigate lubricants used in sexual assaults in addition to research in the areas of drugs, toxicology and gunshot residue.

To pursue the innovative research, Bridge conducted preliminary research to demonstrate to NIJ that there is ample information to distinguish between lubricant samples and that a database of those distinguishing markers would be beneficial to the community. Funding from the NIJ grant will be utilized to support a postdoctoral researcher and one fellowship for a Ph.D. graduate student. The money will also cover tuition, fees, and materials in addition to providing the stipends to the students.

The Black female professor has also received a service contract with the Orlando Public Defender’s Office to develop a website that will educate prosecution and defense attorneys on the realities of forensic science analysis. The effort will help the Central Florida court system understand the benefits and limitations of forensic science.

Dr. Bridge has also applied for and received an In-House Award from UCF. This award provided seed money for another research idea to understand how the human body can degrade lubricants prior to forensic analysis.

Her dream of being involved in chemistry began when she was just 13-years-old and she stayed the course. She received an American Chemical Society Certified BS degree in chemistry at Howard University before obtaining a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry with a focus on forensic science at UCF. She conducted post-doctoral research at the Center for Research and Educational Optics and Lasers (CREOL) at UCF and began teaching chemistry at Howard University shortly thereafter.

She worked at the U.S. Army’s Defense Forensic Science Center, formerly known as the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Laboratory, before taking her current position at UCF as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry.

Other major achievements for Bridge include: holding a faculty researcher position at the National Center for Forensic Science, teaching Introduction to forensic science to nearly 200 undergraduate students and instructing three graduate level courses on the Forensic Analysis of Ignitable Liquids, Forensic Analysis of Explosives and Quality Assurance in Forensic Scientists.

This grant and Dr. Bridge’s work are extremely meaningful for African-American women who are rather frequently targeted by criminals and often have troubles bringing the culprits into the hands of justice. Being raped and proving it is both painful and shameful experience so having one of your own people in law enforcement and on your side can become a serious soothing factor.

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