2022 International Focus on Physical Evidence and the Corpse Conference

Source: Laura Fulginiti, PhD, 2022-23 AAFS President

This past week, I traveled to Foggia, Italy, at the invitation of Dr. Luigi Cipolloni, Director of the Forensic Science and Pathology Department, and Prof. Donatella Curtotti, Director of the Faculty of Law from the University of Foggia. I attended the conference “Successful Strategies for Crime Scene Investigation” and provided a Lectio Magistralis on May 6, 2022, based on my experience and perspective in crime scene investigation. The conference was very well-attended and members of all branches of medicolegal investigation were present, including coroners, forensic pathologists, magistrates, all branches of the police, and students in forensic medicine, forensic science, and the law. The speakers ranged from important Italian prosecutors and judges to the vice-chief of the Italian State Police and multiple forensic scientists.

Luigi and Donatella, along with several of their colleagues and students, rolled out the red carpet. They think very highly of the Academy, and dozens of participants made a point to introduce themselves and proclaim which meeting(s) they had attended. I was continually struck by how revered United States forensic science is, and how it is viewed as the gold standard for these scientists. The purpose of this conference was to emphasize the importance of protocols and checklists for the basics in crime scene investigation. In addition to the Lectio Magistralis, multiple workshops were held to address aspects of investigation and to give a more hands-on experience to the participants. The Italian judicial system is structured quite differently, but the principles and goals are the same.

Luigi has developed a robust forensic science/forensic medicine program at the University of Foggia, and I was impressed that he is currently training 11 Forensic Pathology residents. Many of these individuals expressed strong interest in working in the United States, so if any of our medical examiner/coroner offices need help, they stand ready to assist! They explained that to work in the United States, there are specialty exams and hoops to jump through, but some had secured short-term visiting scientist berths. They are enthusiastic and excited at the prospect of learning techniques from United States practitioners.

I enjoyed myself thoroughly and was very pleased to be with individuals who considered me “famiglia” and who pronounced my name correctly every time! Many of them spoke to me in Italian because of my surname, which was funny and disconcerting at the same time. I must have looked like a deer in the headlights.

Next month, a delegation of AAFS members will be traveling to Croatia to participate in the International Society for Applied Biological Sciences (ISABS) conference in Dubrovnik. We are excited to visit this beautiful country and to mingle with our international colleagues once again.