John Tonkyn joined ICMP as Head of the DNA Laboratory in February 2020. Previously, he worked at the California Department of Justice Jan Bashinski DNA Laboratory. At the JBDL, Dr Tonkyn had several roles over a period of 25 years, including working in Method Development, where he helped to validate short tandem repeat DNA analysis and mitochondrial DNA sequencing for forensic use.
He also helped to implement high-throughput STR typing for the California Convicted Offender DNA Data Bank, which today is the largest state-level offender DNA database in the United States. In 2000, Dr. Tonkyn helped to establish the Missing Persons DNA Program to utilize DNA analysis of human remains and missing persons reference samples for identification. He served as a member of the Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods from 2004-2019, and the Hurricane Victim DNA Identification Expert Group (to assist the Louisiana State Police in identifying victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita), and he was a founding member of the CODIS Missing Persons Working Group. Dr. Tonkyn holds a Bachelor of Science in Botany from the University of Washington and a PhD in Molecular and Physiological Plant Biology from the University of California, Berkeley.