A Message From Your 2016 Program Chair

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles contained in the Academy News are those of the identified authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Academy.

Source:  Andrew M. Baker, MD, 2016 Annual Meeting Program Chair

Can you believe it?  September is upon us.  By the time you read this, the summer of  2015 will be a memory.  For some of our most youthful members, perhaps this means you are back at school.  For others, maybe your kids are back at school.  Or perhaps like me, you just watched your children graduate college and saw more than just another summer slip past as that milestone of life disappeared in the rearview mirror.  At every phase of life, personal and professional, change abounds.

With the onset of fall also comes the realization that the 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting is a mere five months away…which leads me to the 2016 meeting theme set by President Victor Weedn—Transformation: Embracing Change.  Is the AAFS embracing change?  Emphatically yes, and on many fronts.  Perhaps you’ve noticed how readily you can access AAFS proceedings electronically (http://www.aafs.org/resources/proceedings), you’ve viewed the highlights of last year’s meeting in high definition (http://www.aafs.org/resources/videos), or you’ve kept abreast of everything going on in the AAFS in real time via the Academy News Feed (http://news.aafs.org).

On a larger front, the AAFS maintains its place as the leading professional organization dedicated to developing and strengthening the forensic sciences.  In this vein, the AAFS just announced receipt of a large, multi-year grant to become a Standards Development Organization.  This will be in support of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Organization for Scientific Area Committees (OSAC), and AAFS hopes to make those standards freely available to all.  Clearly, such a commitment on the Academy’s part is not merely passively waiting for change.  We, as an organization, meet the challenges before us and we embrace the change.  How can you learn more about this process?   Keep an eye on the Academy News Feed and plan to attend a session at the 2016 meeting to learn more about standards development in the forensic sciences and the role the AAFS (and you!) will play in the process.

Speaking of the 2016 meeting, kudos to all of the writers, poster creators, and workshop chairs who spent part of their summer contributing to the educational component of our meeting.  If you didn’t submit an abstract this year, that’s OK—there are still many ways to contribute to your AAFS program.  Contact your section’s officers (and certainly your section’s Scientific Program Chair), who are always eager for assistance at the annual meeting.  Or recruit some new AAFS members and help grow our forensic family.  The deadline for new applicants to be considered at the 2016 meeting is still yet a few weeks away—October 1.  With your encouragement and letters of reference, you may become the mentor you once admired by inspiring an ambitious forensic scientist to join the AAFS.

If you are planning on attending the 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting—and I hope you are! —make sure you visit the annual meeting page found on the AAFS website.  As the meeting draws near, the site will have everything for your pre-meeting needs, ranging from airline information to presenter instructions.  You can access the page by clicking on the “Meetings” drop-down tab on the AAFS homepage (www.aafs.org) and selecting “AAFS 68th Annual Scientific Meeting — Las Vegas, NV 2016.”  If days and days of scientific sessions, breakfasts, and luncheons aren’t enough to overwhelm you, then make sure you find time to attend some workshops, some evening sessions, the Plenary Session, the Last Word Society, and the Interdisciplinary Symposium.  Your colleagues and some special guests will be speaking on many of the very changes we as an organization are embracing.

Program Co-Chair Julie Howe and I encourage you to extend a handshake, shout out a “thank you,” or dash off a quick email of appreciation to your fellow members (and the intrepid and indefatigable AAFS staff) who put the meeting program together so that they know you appreciate their efforts.  In the vanishingly small time between abstract submissions on August 1 and the program deadline of September 1, the Program Chairs of every section and those charged with almost every other Annual Scientific Meeting educational activity (posters, Last Word Society, Breakfasts and Luncheons, Workshops, Plenary Session, Interdisciplinary Symposium, Bring Your Own Slides, Young Forensic Scientists Forum, you name it) will have pored through hundreds of submissions to plan, coordinate, and schedule the 2016 Annual Meeting and make it the best meeting it can possibly be.

I look forward to seeing you and the rest of my forensic family in Las Vegas.