Young Forensic Scientists Forum Newsletter – April 2016

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.

Editors: Brianna Bermudez, BS, and Jacob Griffin, BS

A Letter from the 2015-16 YFSF President

Writing my final Young Forensic Scientist Forum (YFSF) newsletter entry is very bittersweet. For the past two years, I have had the honor of serving as the YFSF President and I am indebted to so many. The YFSF events at the AAFS 68th Annual Scientific Meeting in Las Vegas, NV, were so successful, thanks to the very hard work of the YFSF Committee members. On behalf of the YFSF, I would like to thank all the speakers, panelists, résumé reviewers, and Academy sections for supporting the YFSF events this year.

This year, the YFSF participated in the Pre-Plenary Academy Cup Session. This was the second year for this event, which allows young forensic scientists and veteran AAFS members to participate in a trivia-style game prior to the Plenary Session in a comfortable and fun setting, that fosters mentor/mentee relationships. The Psychiatry & Behavioral Science team won bragging rights to the Academy Cup. Congratulations! It is my hope that the YFSF will continue to be involved with the Academy Cup as an annual event and to also become involved in other AAFS-wide events. Thank you to the Academy Cup Chair, Laura Liptai, for allowing the YFSF to assist in planning and execution again this year!

This was my fourth year serving on the YFSF Committee and I couldn’t have asked for better committee members. I want to thank them all for making my last year with the Committee the best year it could have been. I am looking forward to seeing all of you grow in the Academy and in your careers. I strongly encourage all young forensic scientists to become involved with the YFSF; the friendships, opportunities, and networking events have been invaluable. As I hand the torch over to the new YFSF President, Brianna Bermudez, I am confident that the YFSF will continue forward and will become successful beyond my wildest dreams. The YFSF Committee is truly in great hands!

Thank you all for allowing me to serve the past to two years and I hope to see everyone in New Orleans next year!

Lara Frame-Newell, MA
2015-16 YFSF President

A Note from the YFSF Secretary

The success of this year’s events could not have been possible without the fantastic committee members of the YFSF. The hard work and dedication of those who serve on the committee is truly inspiring. Although the committee has big shoes to fill, the YFSF is already planning for the 69th Annual Scientific Meeting at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans! The YFSF is thrilled to be bringing in several new committee members to organize next year’s events. If you are interested in joining the YFSF or have questions regarding how to get involved in the Academy, feel free to contact anyone on the committee.

The YFSF is always looking for speakers who are excited about educating and mentoring the next generation of forensic scientists. If you have an interesting case, topic, or advice that you would like to share with the YFSF, please reach out to us.

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
  ― Plutarch

Brianna Bermudez, BS
YFSF Secretary

Jacob Griffin, BS
YFSF Assistant Secretary

YFSF Financial Liaison

Another AAFS Annual Scientific Meeting has successfully been completed and the YFSF events took place without a hitch. This year, the YFSF hosted a special session entitled Viva La Forensics, an annual Breakfast Session, as well as the Bring Your Own Slides and the Bring Your Own Poster Sessions. Of course, the YFSF could not continue to educate and guide the students and young professionals of the forensic science world without the assistance and generosity of our donors.

Every year, the YFSF relies on financial contributions from the forensic science community to make the Special Session a success. The goal of the YFSF is to assist students and young forensic professionals in establishing a solid foundation in their field, and the YFSF events are critical to the professional development of its audience at the annual meeting.

The YFSF would like to thank everyone who contributed to the 2015-16 YFSF Program. Your support is very much appreciated. The YFSF would like to acknowledge the following Academy sections for donating to the program:

  • Anthropology
  • Criminalistics
  • Engineering
  • General
  • Jurisprudence
  • Odontology
  • Pathology/Biology

Thank you for making this year such a success.

Lindsay Saylors, BS
YFSF Financial Liaison

YFSF Special Session

We are happy to report that the 2016 Special Session, Viva La Forensics, was a resounding success. Approximately 50 attendees were able to learn from professionals regarding their casework in a variety of fields with much enthusiasm and audience participation. The speakers this year provided attendees with an understanding of how evidence in real casework is used rather than what is portrayed in the media. The session opened with remarks from YFSF President, Lara Frame-Newell. AAFS representative, Cheryl Hunter, addressed options for those attendees interested in becoming members of the AAFS.

The remainder of the morning was filled with presentations from forensic professionals. Ray Miller and Gary Berman kicked off the session with cases involving forensic odontology. John Williams presented a case that involved the use of forensic anthropology and occupational stress markers. Prior to the morning break, Joseph Almog described a new compound that can be used to detect firearm traces on skin.

After the morning break, Noelle Umback described a case that involved DNA, psychiatry, and the legal system, providing insight into evidence organization of high-profile cases. John Nixon and Helmut Brosz concluded the morning session by detailing cases involving forensic engineering and its ability to solve electrocution cases. Following lunch, Linton Mohammed presented a case involving questioned documents. Next, Alan Price offered attendees a look at an international assassination case and how it was prosecuted. Following Alan was Ja’Neisha Hutley, who described how both forensic serology and DNA testing were used in the Kensington Strangler case. Concluding the early afternoon session was one of the FSF Emerging Scientist Award winners, Federica Collini, who presented Paternal Filicide for Spousal Revenge: The Male Side of Medea’s Syndrome in the Italian Population Over the Last Ten Years.

Following the afternoon break, Nikolas Lemos provided attendees with a look at the ways alternative biological samples can be used in forensic toxicology for casework. The final two speakers of the afternoon were Jamie Downs and Claire Shepard. Dr. Downs presented a case illustrating the role of forensic pathologists in criminal investigations, while Claire’s presentation discussed how to identify crime scenes involving police officer retaliation.

The YFSF would like to thank all the speakers; without them, this session would not have been possible. We also would like to give a special “thank you” to Christina Hayes, who moderated the session.

If you are interested in becoming involved in the 2017 YFSF Special Session, please email

Sara Ellis, MS
YFSF Special Session Chair

Amanda Hale, MA
YFSF Special Session Co-Chair

YFSF Breakfast Session

The 68th Annual Scientific Meeting has come to a close and it was a great week of presentations and workshops. The Young Forensic Scientists Forum Breakfast Session, Ask the Expert, was a great success. The session began with Lara Frame-Newell awarding the YFSF Founder’s Award to Salena Medina, the Assistant Meetings Manager of AAFS. With the help of the other Academy staff members, it was a complete surprise. The session then continued with an open discussion between the attendees and established professionals in the field.

A big “thank you” is given to our professionals who participated, answered questions, and reviewed résumés of the attendees. Douglas Lacey from Digital & Multimedia Sciences, Desiree Reid from Criminalistics, Noelle Umback from Criminalistics, Debi Spencer from General, Jaime Downs from Pathology/Biology, John Kenney from Odontology, Dean De Crisce from Psychiatry & Behavioral Science, and Ruth Winecker from Toxicology were all available to answer questions posed to them by the attendees. There was never a silent moment as questions ranging from professionalism to interview tips were asked.

The breakfast session could not have been possible without the participation of the attendees and the willingness of the AAFS professionals to be open and candid about their experiences. If you are interested in participating in the Breakfast Session or YFSF events in the future, please email

Christina Hayes, BS
YFSF Breakfast Session Chair

Kelsey Carpenter, BS
YFSF Breakfast Session Co-Chair

YFSF Bring Your Own Slides Session

The 2016 YFSF Bring Your Own Slides event was a great success! We are very proud of the presenters and all of the hard work they put into their research. This year, there were five outstanding research presentations. To begin the presentations, Lauren Gandy (University of Central Florida) presented A Combined Method of Detection for Organic and Inorganic Gunshot Residue. Following her presentation was Cassandra Rausch (University of Louisville) who presented Forensic Anthropological Field Methods: The Importance of Interdisciplinary Incorporation to Traditional Crime Scene Investigation. Cedar Crest College student Sagar Shah presented Estimating the Age of Bloodstains by Comparing Oxidized and Reduced Hemoglobin Absorption Spectra. Min Ju Kwon (National University) then presented Influence of Low Copy Number DNA in Cold Case Convictions. Finally, Catherine Brown (Arcadia University) gave her presentation titled, Absolute Quantitation of Semen Specific Protein Biomarkers in Mock Post-Coital Samples.

Thank you to each of the presenters for sharing your research, and a special “thank you” to Brianna Bermudez for ensuring the BYOS event ran smoothly!

Betzaida Maldonado, MSFS
YFSF Bring Your Own Slides, Chair

Jeremy Manheim, BS
YFSF Bring Your Own Slides, Co-Chair

YFSF Bring Your Own Poster Session

The 2016 YFSF BYOP Session was an absolute success. Thirty young forensic scientists, representing undergraduate and graduate programs from 18 universities and 2 laboratories, presented their research to a large crowd. Research covered topics within six of the eleven sections of the AAFS (Anthropology, Criminalistics, General, Pathology/Biology, Questioned Documents, and Toxicology).

A special “thank you” and congratulations go out to the presenters of the 2016 YFSF BYOP session. The level of research presented clearly shows the field of forensic science has a bright future ahead! We look forward to seeing you again in 2017.

To everyone who attended the BYOP Session — without you, this event would not be possible. Thank you for your time, support, and invaluable feedback.

Mentors, please encourage your students to attend and present their term paper, research project, or interesting case at next year’s YFSF BYOP Session. Submissions are accepted from young forensic scientists, including students and early career professionals within their first few years of employment. The YFSF BYOP event presents an ideal opportunity for young forensic scientists to share their research and gain invaluable feedback in a comfortable environment. Look for the submission deadline and detailed instructions in upcoming newsletters.

Alicja Lanfear, PhD
YFSF Poster Session Chair