Throughout this CREST project, I have learnt so much from my process about the world around me through my topic. It has unimaginably educated me so much about a topic I didn’t know much about previously but was definitely interested in. My question of exploration throughout the project was ‘Can genes really lead to an increased likelihood of committing a crime?’
I chose this topic for a myriad of reasons but my initial interest came from a documentary I watched about crime mentality. I had always been interested in the relation of science with crime as I think it’s a significantly relevant topic to our everyday lives. Relating this to a previous science unit that I found interesting; hereditary was a new outlook that I wanted to explore. As you can see from my mood board and brainstorm of science connections with crime, my initial approach was researching how DNA forensics and scientific technology can be used to track and limit criminal behaviour. However, as I was looking into this; I found my true interest lied in how genetics can CAUSE criminal behaviour instead of how forensic technology can limit crime.
Although I had personally not known much about the topic prior to this project, as I was researching I stumbled upon several entertainment magazines taking up this scientific topic with interest and as I researched further, I realised the wider controversy and broader implications my topic can have on the world today. Popular entertainment magazines have taken an interest in the topic because of the recent controversy from Netflix show (Riverdale) where the main character possessed genes that increased her likelihood of committing a crime. However, with so much information coming from unreliable non-scientific sources, I believed that it was important to create a final outcome that was drawn without bias. Therefore, the main aim of my project was to educate my audiences on the impact that genetics can have on criminal behaviour; beyond surface level understanding that may have been brought up by the media and also advocate audiences on the insensitivity of assumptions. I sincerely hope that the results of my project will educate my audiences on the actual implications of genetics on criminal behaviour and hopefully convey my new findings! I also wished that through this project I could advocate audiences on the insensitivity of assumptions from the public based on genetics contributing to crime.
I think my final project was made well due to the effectiveness of my work process where I had a plan each session on the amount of work I wanted to get done and if I did not complete this work in time, I did it for homework. This approach allowed me to finish my comprehensive research with enough time to fully create an outcome and product that I was proud of and showed off my knowledge while also being engaging to audiences. As a result, the product itself was also well structured! However, that being said there were several improvements I could see from my project; one definitely being my approach to research. Oftentimes, the resources I gathered were long academic journals or case study reports done by scientists, this made a lot of the content very difficult for me to understand and therefore, I quickly grew tired of researching. If I were to do the project again, I would try and use a more optimistic approach to research and try to view it as a way for me to better my understanding and further my knowledge on the topic; which ultimately did allow me to have a more detailed and thorough outcome.
To improve my work, I would have given myself more time to look into Jared Tilhonen’s (scientist at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm) research paper which has a very detailed and interesting case study on his genetic analysis of 900 finish offenders. I found that due to the lack of time, I ended up rushing quite a bit of my research and wasn’t able to look at this case study thoroughly. Because the language was also difficult, I sometimes skimmed through bits of the text that I did not understand to a great extent. I would have liked to have taken the time to read through all of the reports carefully as I do realise that it was the first of its kind and has been brought up by the media often since then. I think to improve this project I would definitely include more information from this case study as I think it would have related to the topic to a greater extent and strengthened my arguments with more statistical data. Overall, if I were to do the project again, I would use a more optimistic approach to research and try to view it as a way for me to further my knowledge on the topic which ultimately allowed me to create a more detailed and thorough outcome. Here is the link to the case study report if interested: https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=a9h&AN=102779109&site=eds-live&custid=s5027800 To develop my project in the future, I should definitely review the work and the information presented in it as I believe I wasn’t able to go into the depth that I would have liked to. However, I also understand that for my intended audience which was G10 students and faculty, this may have been slightly too complex to comprehend in such a short video so I think I would only choose to make these developments if I were to change my intended audience to scientific communities.
Overall, through this project, I have learned so much; not only about the science behind my topic but also many aspects of myself, especially about my work processes, organisation and my approach to learning. Although I was able to meet deadlines, I did realise that I got sidetracked and procrastinated tasks that were tedious for me, as well as realising my closed mindset when facing the challenge of research; all things I would like to improve on. These were skills I definitely want to improve in the future. In terms of science, I have learned so much about my topic; about how genetics can affect criminal behaviour. I have not only understood the 2 genes that are linked to criminal behaviour (MAOA and CDH 13 gene) but also how these contribute and what some of the limitations can be when relying solely on genetics to determine criminal behaviour. I have learned so much through this project and I have to say that I really enjoyed being able to look into a topic of my interest and connecting scientific relations with real-life issues that I had always found interesting. I am very grateful for this opportunity and I hope that in the future, I can do another research topic and a project like this as it was very fulfilling and deeply interesting.