One Equal World

Developing New Methods to Investigate Sexual Assault

Posted on: January 20, 2017

An image that reads, "stop sexual assault."

Image credit: Shutterstock

Dr. Candice Bridge is a chemistry professor at the University of Central Florida who was recently awarded a $324,000 grant to research alternative methods of investigating sexual assault. Sexual assault has been a huge focal point in the media lately. Reports have shown that a vast number of rape kits remain untested due to lack of DNA evidence.

Unfortunately, lack of DNA is precisely why lots of rapists and sexual assailants walk free. But Dr. Bridge is trying to change that. Dr. Bridge is researching ways to investigate sexual assault and prove the guilt of perpetrators without relying on DNA samples from semen or blood.

But sexual assault is a far more complex crime than the stereotypical image of a violent rapist hiding in an alleyway. It is a pervasive problem, and one that is routinely ignored, covered up, or simply forgotten by universities, municipalities, and voters.

As we move into a presidential administration that obviously doesn’t see sexual assault as a crime, Dr. Bridge’s work will be essential to helping women get the justice they deserve. It’s going to be a struggle, but it is one that Dr. Bridge is fully equipped to handle.

You see, Dr. Bridge was the first black woman to teach chemistry at the University of Central Florida, and was one of the first people to receive a PhD in forensics here in the United States. The STEM fields, despite a lot of talk about opening doors to women and people of color, haven’t exactly deconstructed their racial or gender biases.

In 2002, only eight black women received PhDs in computer sciences, and by 2012, that number had risen to only 16. Almost half of all black or Latina women in the STEM field have been mistaken for custodial or support staff. Dr. Bridge is someone that a lot of people can and should look up to, and she’s using what access she has to power to make the world a better place.

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