President’s Message — October 2016

John Gerns

Source: John E. Gerns, MFS, 2016-17 President

As summer comes to an end and fall begins knocking on our door, I have just returned from a part of the world where spring is beginning — I am speaking of New Zealand. This year, the AAFS International Educational Outreach Program (IEOP) took place in New Zealand, also known as the “Home of the Kiwis.” To say the trip was outstanding is a major understatement. As usual, Nancy Jackson orchestrated a marvelous excursion that included visiting forensic labs, excellent museums, and superb dining establishments; even though it was raining, we had a wonderful day on Waiheke Island. One of the highlights that I am sure everyone will remember is visiting the New Zealand Police Academy and having the opportunity to witness their newest graduating class performing the Māori Haka honoring their fallen comrades in uniform. It was truly a moving experience! I also had the distinct pleasure of addressing the Australian/New Zealand Forensic Science Society during their plenary session and presenting an AAFS crystal paperweight to their President, Professor Claude Roux. Several AAFS members presented at the conference. IEOP participants included: Carol Henderson, Haskell Pitluck, John Kenney, Jeremy Triplett, and Jody Wolf. Finally, I wanted to recognize two Kiwis who made it all possible: Matthew Gittos, Senior Fingerprint Officer, New Zealand Police Department, Auckland Fingerprint Section, and his lovely wife, Sarah Scott, a forensic biology scientist at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Limited. They were with us throughout the entirety of our journey and made the trip extra special. We left New Zealand with new knowledge, new forensic science colleagues, and new friends!

It is hard to believe that we are only five months away from the AAFS 69th Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans, LA. Annual Meeting Program Chair Julie Howe and Co-Chair Christine Funk, in addition to all of the other chairs and co-chairs, have done an excellent job of organizing a wonderful program that is both educational and entertaining.

Finally, I wanted to address the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Report, which was critical of several forensic science disciplines. Since its publication, the AAFS Board of Directors and I have been formulating the Academy’s official response. We are also working closely with the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations as they develop their response. I will keep the AAFS membership informed as a final response is developed.

As always, continue the great work you do in your forensic science specialty, ensuring objective assessments and analysis are accomplished in our pursuit of justice. All the best!