Dave Latorra

My Mentor –

Written by Dave Latorra

My very fortunate connection with Dr. Moses Schanfield put my entire life on a much different trajectory than I had planned, but it turned out to be the very best thing for me. Moses was a wise mentor both for me and countless other scientists in the DNA, forensics, genealogy and human identification fields. He was brilliant in academia and a true scientist through and through. He always gave back to the community and others with his wisdom, knowledge and opportunities. He passed away a couple of years ago, well before his time, but not before he had such an impact on so many people.

We came into each other’s lives in the early 1990s. I found my way to the University of Colorado Boulder to continue my postgraduate career. After a year, I opted out of that program and joined Moses & other new colleagues at the Analytical Genetic Testing Center in Denver. It was here that I learned my hands-on DNA research skills under the tutelage of Moses and other staff members. He and his former wife, Nancy, had assembled this group together and it turned out to be the most dynamic team I have ever been a part of. I learned so much from these people about connection, teamwork and pushing each other to succeed all while learning so much about each other. We had the time of our lives. Weekly Friday meetings always came complete with beer, free-flowing ideas, visions for what was and what could be and personal stories that bonded us as a team. Moses was my mentor and project advisor on my Doctoral research, which forever changed the course of my scientific career.

Moses was a well-renowned scientist and very respected in his academic circles and beyond. If there was ever a challenging situation, he was the kind of person that thought leaders reached out to for advice. But beyond his career accolades, he was a very curious, funny, kind-hearted guy who led a rich life complete with amazing connections. After retirement, he remarried and started a new chapter of his life on the East Coast. Moses continued to mentor young scientists and give back to others in a very positive way. I smiled when I found the photo of him above because he’s wearing the DNA tie I gave to him as a small thank you for his kindness over the years. This was just a drop in the ocean to what he gave to me.

Thank you for your guidance, moses

Moses Schanfield