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Source: Kristy Kadash, PhD, Section Program Chair
The Criminalistics Section program at the 2016 annual meeting in Las Vegas was expertly crafted by last year’s Program Chair Vinny Desiderio. He instituted some very successful modifications to the program format – for example, Special Sessions, Selected Abstracts, and Big Picture Saturday. These changes were intended to increase the value of the program for both the speakers and the audience. I, for one, believe they achieved this objective. Each Special Session was a two-hour block of time designated to provide an opportunity for in-depth coverage of an important topic to the Criminalistics Section. Approaches for transitioning to new technology, interpreting the significance of association for non-biological evidence, and understanding DNA mixture interpretation were highlighted in the 2016 Criminalistics Section Special Sessions. The program also contained several Selected Abstracts, or presentations with highly informative and potentially valuable content. These speakers were afforded additional time to share their results and explain the potential implications of their research. The Saturday sessions included very interesting presentations on Big Picture topics, such as sequential unmasking, laboratory management, quality assurance, and error rates. The turnout for the Saturday sessions was significantly higher than I have seen in the past 14 years that I have attended the meeting.
As Program Chair for the 2017 annual meeting in New Orleans, I plan to continue these changes. Program Co-Chair Patrick Buzzini and I will be striving to reach the bar that Vinny set last year. We intend to schedule Special Sessions covering topics in both the biological and non-biological arenas. On the agenda so far is an energetic panel discussion on effective testimony regarding DNA results, an interdisciplinary session on next generation identification approaches, and a session focused on the meeting theme, Our Future Reflects Our Past: The Evolution of Criminalistics. We will be seeking speakers and panelists for these Special Sessions. Similar to the 2016 program, these Special Sessions will be more interactive than the rest of the scientific program. Come prepared to join the dialog!
The remainder of the Criminalistics Scientific Scientific Session will be comprised of your work. Be aware that the deadline to submit abstracts for oral and poster presentations is just a few short weeks away – AUGUST 1. Please see the Announcement and Call for Papers in the newsletter and/or visit the AAFS website for instructions and additional details. The task of critically reviewing abstract submissions for the scientific sessions is one that the section program committee and selected volunteers undertake with a great deal of care and responsibility. We intend to place an emphasis on quality and innovation when it comes to the accepted presentations. Furthermore, the following suggestions may help improve the chances of your abstract being accepted: (1) research has been completed by the abstract deadline date; (2) use of clear and concise language; and, (3) full disclosure of financial interests and use of commercial products. Keep in mind that you may be asked to change the format from Oral to Poster or vice versa. When submitting abstracts, consider as well whether your topic may be suitable for a workshop, the Last Word Society, or the Criminalistics Believe It or Not Sessions.
Moderators play a vital role in the success of the scientific sessions, and the New Orleans meeting will be no exception. Please contact Co-Chair Patrick Buzzini (email@example.com) if you wish to serve in this capacity. Do so quickly, though, as there is typically much more demand than supply. The moderator slots are filled on a first come, first serve basis and will favor members who are actively seeking a promotion to Fellow.
One key fact to keep in mind is that we are going to be in New Orleans in February. Mardi Gras is February 28, 2017, but the festivities will likely begin before then. Book your flight and hotel reservation as soon as possible!
Kristy Kadash, PhD
Criminalistics Section Program Chair