A Word From Your 2016 Program Co-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: Julie A. Howe, MBA, 2016 Annual Meeting Program Co-Chair

This is an exciting and challenging time for forensic science as substantive changes are being proposed for all disciplines with the formation of the National Commission on Forensic Science (NCFS) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSACs). All forensic scientists should be paying close attention to the activities of the NCFS. Information can be found at www.justice.gov/ncfs. Meeting notices, agendas, and meeting materials are posted that allow for public comment. Work products that continue to evolve in both scope and depth can be found on the website as well. Be sure to continually check for updates as things are moving at an unprecedented rate.

The website allows you an opportunity to comment on the transformation that is being proposed within the forensic sciences. These proposed changes will impact all forensic facilities and practitioners; however, the number of public comments posted is remarkably minimal, 108 as of this writing. Now is your chance to be heard! The AAFS membership exceeds 6,000 and there are thousands of additional forensic practitioners. Take the time to thoughtfully craft a response after thoroughly reviewing proposed work products that are open for public comment. It’s important for the AAFS voice to be heard, both collectively and individually. As noted by Thomas Vastrick in the March/April 2015 issue of the Academy News Meeting Theme Article, Questioned Documents Section: Don’t Forget the Brake Pedal – Cognitive Bias; “Myth”ing the Point, “history teaches us that substantive changes lead to unintended over-swings of the pendulum that result in counterproductive, unforeseen actions.” Pay attention to what is going on. It’s our responsibility to make sure that the transformation is reasonable and strategic.

Additionally, NIST OSAC information can be found at http://www.nist.gov/forensics. The OSACs are progressing in the development of standards and guidelines. Be sure to view this site often as well and provide feedback when given the opportunity.

The theme for the 2016 Annual Meeting, Transformation:  Embracing Change, offers a wide array of possible topics for presentation in Las Vegas. Collaborate with other sections or members to provide information regarding innovative research or validation of techniques or methods; to highlight cutting-edge technology that transforms forensic science practices; to demonstrate multi-disciplinary approaches; to showcase how to impact the justice system; and to share those unique case studies that provide scholarly insight for your colleagues.

Whatever topic you choose, remember that the August 1 deadline for abstract submissions is just around the corner and is firm. Every year we think that there is plenty of time to write an abstract or coordinate a workshop at the conclusion of the annual meeting, but summer quickly approaches and soon the deadline is upon us! More than 95% of abstracts are submitted on July 31, which bogs down the system. The online submission process is open and ready for input, so be sure to look at it so you can plan ahead and gather the required items, such as CVs and financial disclosures from presenting authors. Keep in mind that your abstract will be a published document, so take the time to put your best effort forward while elevating the forensic sciences! The scientific program depends on the endeavors of the membership.

Program Chair Andrew Baker and I are more than happy to help answer questions, discuss ideas, or assist in any way possible. Don’t hesitate to contact us.

The 2016 annual meeting promises to be exciting as the AAFS community embraces the tide of change!