General Section Newsletter, March 2016

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: Joanna L. Collins, MFS, Section Secretary

Where does the time go? Another successful Academy meeting has come and gone. The 2016 meeting was filled with many educational opportunities, outstanding presentations, and networking. This program would not have been a success without the work of the Section Program Chair, Arthur “Steve” Chancellor, and Program Co-Chair, Melissa O’Connor, both of whom developed a dynamic scientific program consisting of 49 oral presentations, 45 poster presentations, and 6 workshops. Also, of course, a special thanks to everyone who presented workshops, breakfast sessions, other special sessions, and presented during the scientific session of the meeting. Thank you all for your contributions and for furthering the field of forensic science.

The Academy reported that 171 General Section members registered for the meeting and 125 signed in at the General Section Business Meeting. Remember that attendance at the section business meetings is required for promotion. At the business meeting, Claire Shepard was re-elected Section Chair and Joanna Collins was re-elected Section Secretary. During the year, the section officers reviewed 231 applications for membership and/or promotion, 5 Members were promoted to Fellow, 8 members were promoted to Member, 33 members attained the status of Associate Member, 41 became Trainee Affiliates, 58 Student Affiliates were accepted, and 7 Fellows were approved for Retired Fellow status. Other details of the business meeting will be published in the minutes and future news articles.

The 2017 Section Program Chair is Melissa Connor and Gina Londino will serve as Section Program Co-Chair. Even though it is said every year, it is not too early to start planning your presentation for next year, as the August 1 abstract submission deadline will be here before you know it. Remember, only completed submissions are accepted and CV’s for each presenter must be included. Thus, it is necessary to familiarize yourself with the process before the deadline. Also, please review the qualifications for the Robert Gaffney Achievement Award and, if you qualify, consider submitting your presentation for consideration.

John Gerns, who assumed his new role as Academy President, announced next year’s theme, Our Future Reflects Our Past:  The Evolution of Forensic Science. John’s selection to serve as the 2016-17 President is testament to his life-long dedication and contributions to the field of forensic science and the Academy. Congratulations, John!

Congratulations to our 2016 section award winners. Catherine G. Rushton was awarded the Robert Gaffney Achievement Award, which was designed to promote continual professional growth in forensic science and to encourage new forensic science professionals in their occupational specialties. The Paul W. Kehres Meritorious Service Award, which recognizes exceptional service to the section, was awarded to Richard Walter. The John R. Hunt Award, which recognizes sustained superior contributions to the General Section, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), and the forensic science community, was presented to Virginia Lynch. William Andrews received the Robert Thibault Award, which recognizes those members who place the needs of others and the section ahead of personal interest, promotion, and adulation. Finally, AAFS staff, Cheryl Hunter, presented Amber Riley with the Kenneth S. Field Award for Outstanding Service to AAFS Staff. Congratulations to all our award winners!

On Wednesday night, the General Section hosted another great reception for its members. If it were not for your Friends of the General Section (FOGS) donations, the quality reception we continue to enjoy would not be possible. Sharon Poltkin, Reception Committee Chair, and her committee members would like to thank all who have already donated toward the 2017 reception in New Orleans, LA. If you would like to join FOGS and sport the ever-coveted FOGS flashing pin at the 2017 meeting, you can still donate! Checks can be made payable to AAFS, annotating FOGS donation in the memo line, and sent to AAFS along with a copy of a completed Agreement for Commercial Support of Continuing Education, available from AAFS.

The Forensic Sciences Foundation (FSF) continues to support the forensic sciences through the funding of research projects and educational opportunities. Please consider furthering your research and education by submitting a proposal for grant funding. This year, we had several General Section members receive funding for their travel, attendance, and research. Dr. Gulnaz Javan was awarded a Lucas Grant, Michael Woolf was awarded a Student Travel Grant, and Christine Barrett and Kyleen Elwick were awarded Student Affiliate Scholarships. During the business meeting, the General Section voted to donate $2,000 to the FSF and $250 to the FSF Scholarship for the upcoming year. We also voted to donate $500 to the Young Forensic Scientists Forum (YFSF) and congratulated General Section member and outgoing YFSF President, Lara Frame-Newell, for her service to the YFSF.

We all look forward to serving you in the coming year and seeing everyone in New Orleans, LA, February 13-18, 2017. If you were unable to attend the meeting and are interested in serving on a committee or as a moderator this year, please contact Claire Shepard at or Joanna Collins at