March 2016 Criminalistics Section News

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: Vincent J. Desiderio, Jr., MS, Section Secretary

As is typical, the AAFS Staff did a phenomenal job planning the AAFS 68th Annual Scientific Meeting that was held just a few short weeks ago in Las Vegas, NV. The entire week was jam-packed with meetings, receptions, and, of course, terrific scientific content. It is hoped that everyone who made it out to Las Vegas truly enjoyed the meeting in general and the Criminalistics Sessions in particular. The section had some truly great content, from the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) updates, DNA mixtures, fire debris, explosives, and materials talks on Thursday to the drug chemistry, DNA, serology, and pattern evidence presentations on Friday, through to the policy and management talks on Saturday. Along with the oral presentations, Criminalistics had a strong showing during the very popular poster sessions throughout the week.

Some Criminalistics Section program session highlights of note included the in-depth discussions that took place during the special sessions on transitioning new technology into the forensic laboratory, challenges associated with interpreting trace and pattern-based evidence, and the lively DNA mixture town hall. The Friday night Criminalistics Believe It or Not session, skillfully assembled by Dennis Hilliard, drew a large crowd entertained by a schedule full of interesting case presentations.

The Criminalistics Program Committee would like to thank all of the presenters and volunteers for helping make the sessions such a success. A great deal of effort was involved in making the program a success by numerous members of the Criminalistics Section. Therefore, gratitude is due to the many individuals who helped review abstracts back in August, corralled speakers prior to and moderated talks during the sessions, and served as judges for the FSF Emerging Forensic Scientist Award submissions. There are far too many people to name here, but the extensive amount of effort that was put forth by all involved is greatly appreciated.

Above and beyond the program, the Criminalistics Section had the opportunity to honor the Section award winners, which included: Christopher Bommarito, the recipient of the 2016 Paul L. Kirk Award; Marie Samples, the recipient of the 2016 Mary Cowan Award; and, Thomas Brettell, the recipient of the 2016 Meritorious Service Award. Lucy Davis was selected by the AAFS Staff as recipient of the “Kenneth S. Field Award for Outstanding Service to the AAFS Staff” for her tireless efforts throughout the past year as chair of the SDO Committee. The section is pleased to inform you that the next round of awardees have been announced as follows: John Butler for the Paul L. Kirk Award; Mary Gibbons for the Mary Cowan Award; and, Lucy Davis for the Meritorious Service Award. Plan to attend the Section luncheon in New Orleans to witness these deserving individuals receive their awards.

On the topic of New Orleans, the incoming Criminalistics Section Program Chair Kristy Kadash, along with her new partner in science, Criminalistics Section Program Co-Chair Patrick Buzzini, are already hard at work laying the foundation for the 2017 Criminalistics program. They are actively seeking volunteers to assist with the many tasks involved in pulling the session together. If anyone would like to help out, they should contact either Kristy at or Patrick at

Perhaps it is a bit too soon, but it couldn’t hurt to start planning for a scientific paper, workshop, breakfast, luncheon, or even a special session abstract submission for the 2017 annual scientific meeting. After all, that August 1 deadline has a way of creeping up on all of us.