Office of Chief Medical Examiner311Search all websites

OCME Forensic Scientist Appointed to New York State Commission on Forensic Science

January 6, 2017

-- Bronx native Lydia de Castro brings experience with the DNA identification of mass disaster victims and the forensic investigation of sexual assaults --
New York, NY – Lydia de Castro, a veteran forensic scientist at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), whose experience includes the DNA identification of World Trade Center and American Airlines Flight 587 victims, and the forensic investigation of sexual assaults, has been appointed to the New York State Commission on Forensic Science, OCME announced today.
New York City Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said: “Forensic science plays an indispensable role in the criminal justice system by bringing answers to families affected by profound loss, and by helping to convict the guilty or to exonerate the innocent. OCME congratulates Ms. de Castro on her appointment to the Commission on Forensic Science, where she will help to ensure these vital investigations are grounded in a commitment to quality and accuracy."

The Commission on Forensic Science, under the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, develops minimum standards and accredits all forensic laboratories in New York State.
OCME Chief of Laboratories Timothy Kupferschmid said: “Ms. de Castro is an accomplished leader in our City’s DNA laboratory with experience in some of the most challenging and complex assignments.  We are proud that with her appointment to the Commission on Forensic Science, she will have an opportunity to share this deep expertise for the benefit of forensic science throughout New York.”

de Castro currently serves as an assistant director for casework in OCME’s Forensic Biology Laboratory. In this role, she manages the work of approximately 35 scientists who analyze DNA from evidence in criminal cases in New York City including homicides, sexual assaults, weapons possession, and property crimes. She also assists with policy decisions for the laboratory, and facilitates customer service for laboratory clients including medical examiners, other scientists, police and District Attorney's offices. OCME operates the largest public DNA crime laboratory in the world, with approximately 50,000 items of evidence analyzed each year.

Ms. de Castro said: "As a forensic scientist working at OCME, my career has been guided by our agency’s motto, ‘Science Serving Justice.’ Whether developing a DNA profile from crime scene evidence, or assisting in the DNA identifications of victims from the World Trade Center attacks and the crash of American Airlines Flight 587, or interacting with colleagues, I am reminded daily of the service we provide to the people of New York City.  As a native New Yorker, I am proud to have this opportunity to expand the scope of my service to the State of New York as a newly appointed member of the Commission on Forensic Science."

de Castro was recommended for the Commission on Forensic Science by New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and appointed to the position by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Her appointed term will expire in 2018.

A native of the Bronx, New York, de Castro joined OCME as an intern in 1990. She served in the forensic toxicology division prior to joining the forensic biology division in 1996. In addition to her work supervising a group of DNA scientists responsible for identifying disaster victims, de Castro has also served as a lecturer to sexual assault forensic examiners and victim advocates, for which she received the Collaboration Award from the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault.

de Castro holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree in forensic science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Established in 1918, OCME is the first governmental agency of its type in the United States and provides expert services across the range of forensic science disciplines. OCME operates the largest public crime DNA laboratory in the world, in addition to laboratories in toxicology and histology, and the nation’s only public molecular genetics laboratory. The agency is home to the country’s largest forensic pathology training program, having trained over 100 board-certified forensic pathologists since 1990. OCME also houses a department of forensic anthropology, and maintains a division of specially trained experts to respond to any and all fatality events, no matter what hazards may be encountered during recovery.

For more information, contact the OCME Public Affairs Office at (212) 447-2041.