President’s Message – April 2016

First, I would like to say how honored and privileged I am to serve as the 67th American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS) President. Thirty-three years ago, I joined the AAFS. I felt privileged to be part of the AAFS organization. As the years passed, my awe of the Academy has never diminished and this professional organization has now turned into my forensic science family. The AAFS has a long history of meeting challenges and developing solutions to enhance the forensic sciences and ensure our membership continues to thrive.

A vision on the horizon is now a reality. The stalwart efforts of our immediate Past President, Dr. Victor Weedn, took a concept and developed it into a new addition to the AAFS. We have now become an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) -accredited Standards Development Organization (SDO). The AAFS has established an organization dedicated to developing documentary standards for forensics, the Academy Standards Board (ASB). This organization will work closely with the Forensic Science Standards Board and its subcommittees, which are dedicated to creating a national registry of forensic standards. The AAFS ASB is now operational. We are currently looking for volunteers to be members of several Consensus Bodies. I encourage you to visit the ASB website ( and fill out an application.

Providing a forum for our membership to contribute research, develop innovations, and share experiences and knowledge has been the goal of our annual meeting. It is also a valuable venue to share ideas and discuss problems face-to-face and not rely on digital communication. For those who were able to attend the meeting in Las Vegas, you had the opportunity to mingle with more than 4,500 attendees, listen to 512 oral presentations, and view 376 poster presentations. This year, we had 657 international attendees who represented 69 countries from around the world. I look forward to seeing everyone in New Orleans. I guarantee you it will be a fantastic meeting!

My theme for 2016-17 is Our Future Reflects Our Past: The Evolution of Forensic Science. As we look at the new challenges ahead of us, we must not forget that our road getting there is paved with our past experiences. During my acceptance speech, I emphasized the importance of mentoring new forensic scientists. They are our future. I encourage you to reach out to new members in your section and encourage them to participate in the Academy. I remember well how intimidated I was when I attended my first Academy meetings. I am truly indebted to a true friend and colleague who took me under his wing and pushed me to participate. His name was Robert Thibault, who unfortunately passed away in 2014. I guarantee you that without Bob’s perseverance, I would not be your president today. His selfless dedication to the Academy and to the General Section prompted the General Section to create the Robert “Bob” Thibault Award.

Finally, I invite you to join me on a tour of New Zealand as our host country for the International Education Outreach Program. The itinerary will include stays in Auckland and New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington. Participants will have opportunities to meet with forensic science colleagues along the way, take advantage of the cultural and historical riches of the country, and attend the Australian New Zealand Forensic Science Society’s (ANZFSS’s) 23rd International Symposium. The fantastic tour of New Zealand is September 12-18, and the ANZFSS Symposium is September 18-23.