General Section News

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Source:  Joanna L. Collins, MFS, Section Chair

Another exciting annual meeting has come and gone. For those who had the opportunity to attend, it was filled with outstanding presentations consistent with the Academy’s theme of Our Future Reflects Our Past:  The Evolution of Forensic Science as chosen by Past President John Gerns. John was not able to attend the 2017 meeting, but he will share the stage with President Betty Layne DesPortes at the 2018 annual business meeting in Seattle, WA.

The General Section program was extremely successful thanks to the diligent efforts of Melissa Connor, 2017 Program Chair, and Gina Londino, 2017 Program Co-Chair. They reviewed more than 200 abstracts of which 125 were accepted, including 61 oral presentations, 55 poster presentations, one breakfast, one luncheon, five workshops, and two special sessions. Congratulations to everyone who presented one of these sessions in New Orleans. I want to encourage everyone to consider submitting an abstract in line with our 2018 theme of Science Matters, which will focus on research, diversity, and communication. It is never too early to start planning as the August 1 deadline for abstract submissions will be here in no time! The 2018 Section Program Committee consists of Gina Londino, Chair, and Steven Downs, Co-Chair.

After receiving favorable feedback from the membership last year, the section again hosted a speaker during the Wednesday luncheon preceding the business meeting. Robert Morton, FBI (Ret) provided the lunchtime entertainment and presented “No Body Homicides.” Thank you, Bob, for sharing your knowledge and case studies with the group. Although the General Section luncheon presentations are not considered part of the scientific program, they do provide one point toward promotion (if needed).

The Academy reported that 178 General Section members registered for the meeting and 136 signed in at the General Section Business Meeting. Please keep in mind that attendance at the section business meeting is a requirement for promotion and you must sign in on the official roster at the meeting to obtain credit. During the business meeting, Joanna Collins was elected Section Chair, Steven Clark was elected Section Secretary, and Paul Kish was elected Section Director. During the year, Claire Shepard, previous Section Chair, and Joanna Collins, previous Section Secretary, reviewed 291 applications for membership and promotion. Four members were promoted to Fellow, 12 members were promoted to Member, 57 individuals attained the status of Associate Member, 23 individuals became Trainee Affiliates, and 74 Student Affiliates were accepted. Other details of the business meeting will be published in the meeting minutes.

Congratulations to the 2017 General Section award winners! The Paul W. Kehres Meritorious Service Award, which recognizes exceptional service to the section, was presented to Timothy M. Palmbach. The John R. Hunt Award, which recognizes sustained superior contributions to the General Section, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and the forensic science community, was presented to Neal Haskell. Cheryl Hunter of the AAFS Staff presented Sandra Enslow with the Kenneth S. Field Award for Outstanding Service to the AAFS Staff for her work on the General Section Regional Representative Committee. Lastly, the General Section Awards Committee evaluated several excellent presentations for consideration of the 2018 Robert Gaffney Achievement Award. Eriek S. Hansen was selected as the 2018 Robert Gaffney Achievement Award Winner for his presentation titled “Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis as a Technique for Estimating the Postmortem Interval (PMI) in Human Remains.” Congratulations to all the award winners!

2017 Hunt Winner

2017 General Section Hunt Award Winner, Neal Haskell, PhD with Claire Shepard, General Section Chair

Hunt Award Winners

Previous General Section Hunt Award Winners (L-R) Dayle Hinman, Robert Morton and Virginia Lynch

Kehres Award Winners

Previous Kehres Award Winners (L-R, back-front) Timothy Palmbach, 2017 Award Winner, Paul Kish, Julie Howe, Dayle Hinman, Vernon Geberth

Previous Gaffney Award Winners

Previous Gaffney Achievement Award Winners (L-R) Paul Kish, Maher Noureddine and Catherine Rushton

Thibault Award Winners

Previous Thibault Award Winners (L-R) William Andrews and Paul Kish

The Forensic Sciences Foundation (FSF) supports the forensic sciences through funding of research and educational opportunities. There are a number of grants and scholarships available to AAFS members and all information and instructions can be found at This year we had two General Section members receive awards and funding for their travel and attendance at the 2017 AAFS annual meeting. Lauren Traveller received the Emerging Forensic Scientist Award for her presentation at the 2016 annual meeting titled “Risk Factors in Adjudicative Incompetency:  A Case Study.” Kent M. Adamson received the Henry C. Lee Scholarship for his 2017 presentation titled “Digital Stringing — The Practicality and Legitimacy of Determining the Area of Origin (AO) of an Impact Event from 3D Scans Recorded via Structured Light Scanning.”

The section officers look forward to serving you in the coming year. If you were unable to attend the meeting in New Orleans, LA, and are interested in moderating at the 2018 meeting in Seattle, WA, February 19-24, 2018, please contact Joanna Collins at or Steve Clark at