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Forensic EdgeTeam: Leadership & Experience

Forensic Edge is led by Karen Lawless who has the credentials and experience to provide you a "forensic edge." 


Karen Lawless
President and Chief Scientist
Ms. Lawless is a practicing forensic scientist since 1989, with broad-based experience in all forensic disciplines, including crime scene investigation.  Ms. Lawless founded Forensic Edge in 2001 after more than a decade as a lead analyst (criminalist) with the Oregon State Police Forensic Laboratory (OSPFL).  Throughout her career, she garnered extensive field and lab experience, from drug chemistry and trace evidence to crime scene investigation and blood spatter interpretation, as well as firearms and serology, among others.  Her personal passion focuses on forensic DNA--collection, analysis, interpretation and testimony.  Ms. Lawless is not only a top field analyst, but she understands the intricacies of the varied DNA methods, processes and procedures.  Her experience with DNA technologies and analysis is extensive. At the OSPFL, Ms. Lawless accomplished validation work and implementation for D1S80 and led the validation and implementation of STRs (Short Tandem Repeat) for casework and, subsequently, was the first STR casework analyst in Oregon.  Further, Ms. Lawless authored the OSPFL protocols for both D1S80 and STR DNA analysis methods.  STRs continue to be the mainstay of DNA typing used in forensic cases today.  Additionally, she was responsible for training and mentoring fellow forensic scientists and DNA colleagues in all aspects of forensic lab work. 

Ms. Lawless has led numerous capital cases involving forensic DNA and testified to her results and interpretation in many of them. She has years of experience involving crime scene investigation, clandestine laboratories and cold cases as well as participated on unique teams such as the Forest Park Serial Killer Task Force.  Ms. Lawless, as the DNA analyst on the Forest Park Serial Killer Task Force, was awarded a unit commendation from the Portland Police Bureau for her contribution in locating and analyzing the DNA evidence that linked the victims to the Forest Park Serial Killer.

Ms. Lawless has been certified through the FBI's DNA Auditor Training program to perform audits which are necessary for state and private crime labs to meet ASCLD (American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors) accreditation. 

Ms. Lawless taught forensic techniques, including DNA, as lead instructor for the Oregon Regional Forensic Academy (ORFA), and as an instructor for the Oregon State Police, the OSP Recruit Schools and the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST).  In these capacities, she trained police, legal, medical and other professionals in the latest forensic methods and the proper way to identify and preserve critical evidence, as well as crime scene processing.  She presents and lectures in various forums on forensic techniques and trends.  Ms. Lawless holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Chemistry from Southern Oregon University, as well as has advance study in Forensic DNA, Biochemistry and Genetics from Portland State University. She is a professional and active member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the Northwest Association of Forensic Scientists.

To request Karen Lawless' full Curriculum Vitae, please click here (request form).

Forensic Edge Team of Professionals

Forensic Edge has a group of trusted colleagues who are called upon for their unique forensic expertise as needed depending on the required aspects of the case or activity.