General Section News—May 2018

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles contained in the Academy News are those of the identified authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Academy.

Source: Steven C. Clark, PhD, Section Secretary

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 meeting theme Science Matters. The 71st Annual Scientific Meeting will be in Baltimore, MD, at the Baltimore Convention Center on February 18-23, 2019. President Susan Ballou’s theme for the upcoming meeting is Diligence, Dedication, and Devotion.

The General Section program was extremely successful thanks to the diligent efforts of Gina Londino-Smolar, 2018 Program Chair, and Steven Downs, 2018 Program Co-Chair. They reviewed 202 abstracts of which 125 were accepted, including 61 oral presentations, 55 poster presentations, 1 breakfast, 1 luncheon, 5 workshops, and 2 special sessions. Congratulations to everyone who presented one of these sessions in Seattle. I want to encourage everyone to consider submitting an abstract for the 2019 annual meeting. It is never too early to start planning since the August 1 deadline for abstract submissions will be here in no time! The 2019 Section Program Chair is Gina Londino-Smolar, with Brian Janysek serving as 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. Dave Pauly, Professor of Forensic Science at Methodist University and former Special Agent with the United States Army Criminal Investigation Division, presented an interesting overview of an overseas homicide case titled “International Murder and Intrigue” that was very well received. Thank you, David, for sharing your knowledge and experience 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 200 General Section members registered for the meeting and 103 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 and Steve Clark was elected Section Secretary. Paul Kish will continue to serve his term as Section Director. During the year, Joanna Collins, Section Chair and Steve Clark, Section Secretary, reviewed 213 applications for membership and promotion. Five members were promoted to Fellow, 9 members were promoted to Member, 49 individuals attained the status of Associate Member, 27 individuals became Trainee Affiliates, 60 Student Affiliates were accepted, and 4 General Section Members/Fellows retired. Other details of the business meeting will be published in the meeting minutes.

Congratulations to the 2018 General Section award winners! The Paul W. Kehres Meritorious Service Award, which recognizes exceptional service to the section, was presented to Claire Shepard. 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 Julie Howe. The Robert “Bob” Thibault Award, which recognizes an individual of the section who works behind the scene for the good of the section, was presented to David Zeliff. The Robert Gaffney Achievement Award for 2018 was awarded to Eriek Hansen for his oral presentation titled, “Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis as a Technique for Estimating the Postmortem Interval (PMI) in Human Remains.” The General Section Awards Committee evaluated several excellent presentations for consideration for the 2019 Robert Gaffney Achievement Award. Kimberlee Moran and Sharon Moses were selected as the 2019 Robert Gaffney Achievement Award Winners for their presentation titled, “Forensic Archaeology Matters: Methods, Differentiation From and Contributions to, Other Forensic Strategies in Crime Scene Investigation.” Congratulations to all the award winners!

As in years past, the General Section hosted a reception for its members. This event would not be possible without the support of the Friends of the General Section (FOGS) donations. Thank you to everyone who attended and helped make it possible. Sharon Plotkin, Reception Committee Chair, and her committee were hard at work collecting donations for the 2019 reception, which will be held on Wednesday, February 20, at the annual meeting in Baltimore, MD. Thanks again to the Reception Committee, everyone who donated to FOGS, and those who attended the reception—it was fabulous!

The section officers look forward to serving you in the coming year. If you are an Associate Member seeking promotion within the Section, you may want to consider moderating at the 2019 meeting in Baltimore, February 18-23, 2019. Contact Joanna Collins at or Steve Clark at