Meet George Amato

In Pictures: CSI with DNA
George Amato

Hi, my name is George Amato. I'm a conservation geneticist at the American Museum of Natural History. I use genetics to help protect endangered species. When the need arises, we use our facility as a forensics lab to investigate crime scene evidence. Here's one such case...

Shoes and handbags made from reptile skins are seized at the airport.
Could they be made from the skins of a threatened crocodile species?
To find out, we turned our genetics lab into a forensics lab.
If we identify the DNA sequence, we can identify the animal species!
We locate an area to take a skin cell sample. We only need a little bit.
We then extract DNA from the skin cells.
We use a chemical reaction to amplify, or copy, the DNA.
This DNA sequencer machine reads a small DNA section called the barcode.
We find a match for the barcode in a database. It's an endangered species!

These images have been brought to you by Science Explorations, a partnership between Scholastic and the American Museum of Natural History.