From the Editor: 87.4 Crime, Justice, and Science

Rebecca Su | rebecca.su@yale.edu January 18, 2015

From the Editor: 87.4 Crime, Justice, and Science

Welcome back to another semester with the Yale Scientific. The entire masthead is excited to continue expanding its print and online coverage, and we are thrilled to begin working with the Class of 2018.

To explain the story behind this issue, I should pull back the curtain on our usual editorial process: in selecting the themes for each issue, we always pick a theme first and pitch articles topics afterwards. But with the start of a new academic year, for this issue we decided to take a different approach: we heard article pitches first and let a theme come to us.

And so, at a time not long after the execution of an American journalist and the Ferguson shooting that sparked national outrage, several of our articles came to converge on one central question, one that seemed to reflect a pressing issue on the minds of many Yalies—crime and justice.

For many scientists, this theme represents volumes of questions that we can spend lifetimes unraveling. How does changing technology redefine the law? What is science’s role in tracking and analyzing crime? And how can scientists help citizens—not just victims of crime, but also the perpetrators themselves—achieve justice?

Many research questions are devoted to technologies that deter or track down crime: advances in forensic science that aid law enforcement, for example, or the use of quantum cryptography as a new defense against cyber attacks. Other scientific solutions are less blackand-white: In the wake of a New Haven “heroin epidemic” this year, Dr. David Fiellin at the Yale School of Medicine recently co-authored a paper on a controversial drug that treats opiate addiction (pg. 22). The drug mitigates withdrawal symptoms, but it’s also vulnerable to abuse if improperly prescribed. And while there are no clear answers to combating opioid addiction just yet, the numerous debates on the drug’s availability reveal that “justice” is a loaded word. More often than not, finding the fairest scientific outcome depends on who you ask to be the judge.

In their efforts to tackle crime and injustice, members of the scientific community have also been creating change from within. With exclusive interviews from Drs. Joan Steitz and Vivan Irish, this issue’s cover story on page 18 highlights the growing network of women scientists at Yale.

We hope you enjoy reading this issue of the Yale Scientific on “Crime, Justice, and Science,” and we thank you for your continued support.