I’m excited and am very much looking forward to serving you as the 66th President of AAFS in this coming year. My theme for the year and the 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting in Las Vegas is: Transformation: Embracing Change. Some recommendations of the National Commission on Forensic Sciences (NCFS) will likely be implemented this year. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) will also kick into gear this year. Sweeping federal legislation appears increasingly likely and I doubt there has ever been a single year with such transformative action. I believe it is good for our community and our individual professions in the long run and we should embrace it.
Thanks to Immediate Past President Daniel Martell, we have a new Government Relations Committee. I have created an AAFS Ad Hoc NCFS Committee and an AAFS Ad Hoc OSAC Committee which will help us keep abreast of these changes. You will find reports from these committees and myself on a new “Policy Page” which will replace the previous “Washington Corner” column.
In support of the NIST OSAC, I have initiated an exploration of the possibility of the Academy becoming a Standards Development Organization (SDO)—particularly an ANSI-accredited Standards Developer (ASD). I have created a committee to explore this possibility and I have given the committee members only a short time to report back. The Board of Directors has already authorized funding should the decision be made to proceed. If so, the Academy would become an SDO option for NIST OSAC Subcommittees for vetting their standards and guidelines. Thus, the OSAC Subcommittees, not the AAFS, would write the standards, and they, the OSAC Subcommittees, would choose to which SDO they submit their work products. The vetting process to be used by the Academy or any other SDO in this role would have to meet the ANSI Essential Requirements, which include openness, lack of dominance, balance of interests, as well as an appeals process. A more thorough description of an SDO is described by Karen Reczek of NIST on the “Policy Page” (page 3).
I have created a number of ad hoc committees that will give the membership a greater opportunity to participate in the affairs of the Academy, and they are an important means for accomplishing work of the organization. These committees include: NCFS, OSAC, SDO, Structure, Media Relations, Human Rights, Mentoring, Academy Cup, Membership Procedures Review, Ethics Process Review, and Software Archive.
An important initiative, conceived by Past President Douglas Ubelaker and championed by Immediate Past President Martell, is the creation of the AAFS Humanitarian and Human Rights Resource Center. The Board approved this initiative and made $50K available to it. This will ensure that the Academy is a player on the international stage.
A particularly exciting event this year will be the International Educational Outreach Program (IEOP) in Croatia, June 15-21. It will articulate with the International Society for Applied Biological Sciences (ISABS). Though I will lead the delegation, Dragan Primorac (Criminalistics) will serve as the local host. Dr. Primorac has helped us plan a very special trip. Although, the ISABS conference focuses on molecular biology and anthropology, a general AAFS forensic panel will be held on the first day of the ISABS program. The ISABS conference is large and well established and often draws several Nobel Prize laureates as participants. Unfortunately, the sign up period for this trip will close in a few weeks as we need to confirm the hotel space. A full description of this IEOP can be found here.
I will have much more to say as this important year progresses. Please make your concerns and suggestions known to the Academy Office or to your section leadership. Here is to a most successful 2015-16 Academy Year!!!