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August 14, 2002

Electronic newsroom



Mount Sinai High School Student Studies Adult/Child Fingerprint Differences At Brookhaven Lab

UPTON, NY — Children’s fingerprints can disappear faster than those of adults. This little-known fact can hamper investigations of kidnapping cases, which have been so prevalent in the news this summer.

Lara Hershcovitch, who will be a senior at Mount Sinai High School this September, is using an infrared microscope at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in an experiment to determine why adults’ fingerprints can last longer than children’s fingerprints.

(From right) Lara Hershcovitch, Lisa Miller, a Brookhaven scientist who volunteered to mentor Hershcovitch, and Jackie Tetenbaum, a current employee and former undergraduate student at BNL, work on the fingerprinting project together. 300 dpi hi-res image.

Hershcovtich is a participant in Brookhaven’s Community Summer Science Program, managed by the Lab’s Office of Educational Programs and funded by Brookhaven Science Associates. Throughout this program, 26 high school students are spending six weeks at the Laboratory this summer participating in hands-on workshops or in a research internship, like Hershcovitch. All students also attend morning lectures in various scientific fields.

In her experiment, Hershcovitch studied fingerprints from fathers and their young sons, ages 5-8, under the infrared microscope to determine the differences in chemical composition of the fathers’ and sons’ prints. Her data analysis may eventually be published in a scientific journal, and it could lead to more effective forensic investigations.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies. Brookhaven also builds and operates major facilities available to university, industrial, and government scientists. The Laboratory is managed by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited liability company founded by Stony Brook University and Battelle, a nonprofit applied science and technology organization.