President’s Message—March 2018

Source: Susan M. Ballou, MS, 2018-19 President

Under the direction of 2017-18 President Betty Layne DesPortes, the 70th AAFS Annual Scientific Meeting proved to be both exciting and educational. Let us now look forward to our next meeting in February 2019. I welcome you to what I know will be a tremendous and engaging year for the AAFS.

I have been keenly aware of the professionalism demonstrated by our AAFS membership. Whether our members are applying new technology to existing techniques or challenging the Federal Rules of Evidence, the desire to improve our profession is evident. These attributes represent our Diligence to the effort, our Dedication to handling the details, and our Devotion to the field. Therefore, the theme for AAFS 2018-19 is: Diligence, Dedication, and Devotion.

As professionals in the field of forensic science, our selected career path is calculated. This means we ensure our academic selection supports our choice of profession. For the past 14 years, this resource has existed at our fingertips. The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) was established as an official committee of the AAFS in 2004. Academic institutions listed on the FEPAC website ( have achieved FEPAC accreditation, thereby demonstrating their compliance with the FEPAC educational standards—an excellent resource for determining the best fit for educational programs. Following our choice of education, we discern which mentorship program will further support our career. A difficult action can become manageable through the numerous opportunities at the AAFS annual meeting. Following mentorship, our knowledge is broadened by the accumulation of personal experience from years on the job. Consider personal experience as professional maturity, something that cannot always be learned through teaching or publications; it develops from time on the job. These steps show our actions are not the result of a single effort, but an accumulation of the totality of the effort. We are diligent in academic stability, established medical processes, and understanding judicial requirements.

As professionals in the field of forensic science, we are by nature inquisitive. We look at something such as an image of a crime scene, an item on the examination table, or a written confession, and ask ourselves, what is out of place? Does the offered theory work with the offered information? Our mind flips to autopilot and we start focusing on the details. Whether we professionally consider ourselves an academic, engineer, physician, scientist, or attorney, we understand that each case or each job requires detailed examination of every aspect–not just a cursory look, but intense scrutiny. Often, we find the one piece that contains the crucial information or the deciding factor in the case. We do not walk away from the task because it is difficult, or because it is mundane. To us the task is the challenge. This is our time to bring forth those tough issues, the formidable cases, to stand up and show our dedication to finding the details that made the difference.

We are fiercely committed to the essence of the criminal justice process. It is our unwavering devotion to the continued exploration into methods, technology, materials, and legislation that ensures advancement of the profession. This is our opportunity to promote our actions (research, new technology, legal interpretation) that will continue the advancement of the profession.

I believe we tend to undervalue our daily achievements, categorizing them as typical and average. This could be a factor of our diligence, dedication, and devotion. We tend to accept phenomenal achievements because that is what we do. For example, consider that each report, detailing test, examination, or evaluation results has information that may influence so many lives. Yet we mark a case as complete and move onto the next because there is always another case waiting to be reviewed or examined. Therefore, I ask you to stop, take a breath, and look at your cases, your research, your explorations, and to consider their importance to the field. Whether you teach, litigate, examine, research, or investigate, your accomplishments are amazing and should be shared. I insist that each of us stands up and takes that well-deserved bow, then consider showcasing those cases, research, and training at the 2019 AAFS annual meeting in Baltimore, MD.

Our profession is strong and will increase in strength and prestige because of everyone’s Diligence, Dedication, and Devotion.