President’s Message — December 2017

Source:  Betty Layne DesPortes, JD, MS, 2017-18 President

The Annual Meeting is fast approaching and now is the time to finalize your flight, hotel, and meeting arrangements. Pre-registration offers significant savings so do not miss the pre-registration deadline of January 24, 2018. Workshops and special sessions fill up quickly, so register as soon as possible (

Although the official meeting theme is “Science Matters,” we are focusing on three broad areas:  diversity, research, and communication. The Interdisciplinary Symposium on Tuesday morning requires pre-registration, but has the discounted fee of $75. The Symposium features seven speakers from a diverse array of science organizations and backgrounds discussing new perspectives on forensic science and new avenues for research collaboration. The Plenary Session on Wednesday morning, open to all meeting attendees, hosts Itiel Dror, PhD and Rush D. Holt, PhD. The session focuses on both recent research findings and how we communicate about forensic science. Dr. Dror’s research examines the information processing involved in perception, judgment, and decisions. He will be discussing his recent research in the cognitive processes in forensic science analysis and ways to minimize expert examiners’ vulnerability to confirmation and other cognitive biases. Dr. Holt, Executive Director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, will discuss that organization’s efforts to review the scientific validity of various disciplines. For a different take on the same topics of research and communication, the more informal Tuesday evening session – also open to all attendees – has the unofficial tagline:  “A reporter, an activist, and a producer walk into a bar to talk about forensic science.” Bring your own beverage and enjoy the session focusing on the media perception of forensic science and how that perception can be influenced to shape public policy.

During this 70th anniversary of the Academy, we will be celebrating our founders, past presidents, and, as always, our award winners. Virginia A. Lynch, MSN, RN, will receive the 2018 Distinguished Fellow for her founding work in forensic nursing and her achievements in elevating the practice of forensic science. Lavinia Iancu, PhD, will receive the 2018 Outstanding Early Career Achievement Award for her work in forensic entomology. All section award winners and Forensic Sciences Foundation grant and scholarship winners will also be recognized during the annual business meeting. Please attend the business meeting to congratulate the award winners and to be inspired by the tremendous talent and expertise of our membership.

At the business meeting on Wednesday, we will also be voting on structural changes to the leadership hierarchy established in the bylaws. The changes are intended to standardize our leadership hierarchy to bring it in line with the organizational norm. A detailed discussion of the proposed amendments and the rationale for the changes will be provided in the report of the Bylaws Committee. The report will be available to the membership through the Account Portal in January.

Seattle has hosted the Academy annual meeting several times, and there are many local attractions to fill your time between sessions. Invite a few colleagues and check out the views from the Space Needle, the sights and sounds of Pike Place Market, or the wonderful restaurants like Wild Ginger (3rd & Union), Bacco Café (86 Pine Street), Andaluca (407 Olive Way), Urbane (1639 8th Avenue), and many others.

Hope to see everyone in Seattle!