The heart of this piece I designed on DNA profiling focuses on a researcher who is working to improve the reliability of DNA profiling for crime scenes. Throughout the article, she calls into question the many factors that may cause incorrect profiling - leading to the grim possibility an innocent person could be convicted.

Extract genetic material from sweat on shirt collar
Was the shirt borrowed?
DNA from at least three people
Can we isolate this?
Check for skin cells
DNA degraded by heat?
Testable DNA tricky to get from hairs on couch
How many people picked up that magazine?
Is this evidence related to the crime?
Who was in the apartment last week?

In my design, I let these questions hang in the air uncomfortably around the crime scenes they inhabit, much like the dust, skin cells, and flecks they raise concerns about. I’m using a subtle keyframe animation on top of each photo to create the slight animated noise effect.

To create the right look and feel, I worked with Janice Checchio, an amazing photographer and art director on the Boston University photography team, to get a gritty, noisy look to the images, and to take photos of everyday objects which both aligned with the story’s content and could conceivably be found at a crime scene.

Some of the animation relies on JavaScript, but in the pullquote above, I used a gif that I created in Photoshop instead to improve performance.

Low copy DNA – weak genetic signal
DNA from at least three people
Can we isolate the suspect’s DNA?
How do we make sense of all this?
Perfect DNA match to suspect unlikely
Will this be enough DNA to identify a suspect?
Is it possible to get a clean DNA signal?
Signal could be from someone else
Testable DNA tricky to get from hairs on floor
How many people have been through here?

Even minor movements by the user (either phone tilts or mouse movements) disturb the scene; it is deliberately delicate.