Forensic Technology Center of Excellence


Just Workforce Resiliency for MDIs

Just Workforce Resiliency for MDIs

Original Release Date: October 22, 2021

In the first episode of our Workforce Resiliency season, Just Science sat down with Dr. Jennifer Rineer, a program manager and research psychologist in RTI International’s Center for Policing Research and Investigative Science, and Kelly Keyes, a research forensic scientist in RTI’s Center for Forensic Sciences, to discuss workforce resiliency among medicolegal death investigators.

Medicolegal death investigators face consistent exposure to stress and traumatic events on the job, yet there is limited research on the daily pressures these professionals experience. An NIJ study led by Dr. Rineer surveyed 900 medicolegal death investigators to gain more information on the driving sources of stress among these practitioners, with the goal of developing better interventions to mitigate these stressors. Listen along as these experts discuss the responsibilities of medicolegal death investigators and difficulties retaining good staff, as well as their findings on work-related stress within the profession in this episode of Just Science.

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

Listen to or download the episode here:

View or download the episode transcript here:

Guest Biography

Dr. Jennifer (Jenn) Rineer is an expert in the health, well-being, and performance of employees and organizations. As a program manager and research psychologist in RTI International's Center for Policing Research and Investigative Science, she applies her academic and applied experience in industrial and organizational psychology and occupational health to workplace and workforce surveys, qualitative studies, employee trainings, evaluations, and experimental research in criminal legal contexts. Her research focuses on worker health, job-related stress, diversity and inclusion, organizational effectiveness, and related topics. Currently, Dr. Rineer serves as the principal investigator for a Department of Justice-funded project to develop programs to reduce stress for law-enforcement officers across the United States. She also leads two National Institute of Justice-funded projects: From Research to Reality: Recruiting More Women into the Policing Profession and Understanding Work-Related Stress among Medicolegal Death Investigators [MDIs]: A National Survey and Mixed-Methods Impact Study. Dr. Rineer joined RTI in 2015. Her professional background includes several positions conducting research on employment-related issues for the Center for Parental Leave Leadership, Catalyst, Inc., and the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, among others. She is a member of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the Society for Occupational Health Psychology, and the Society for Human Resource Management. View RTI Profile here.

Kelly Keyes joined RTI International in 2021 as a Research Forensic Scientist III in the Forensic Science Translation and Implementation program.  Prior to joining RTI, she had 24 years of experience working as a medicolegal death investigator (MDI) in a large metropolitan coroner’s office at the Orange County Sheriff Coroner Department (OCSD), in all divisions of the office, including over 10 years as a supervising Investigator.  Kelly is a Board-certified MDI with the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators (D-ABMDI).  Kelly has investigated and supervised thousands of death investigations of all types and regularly interacted with forensic pathologists to prepare death certificates. She also oversaw the unidentified decedent cases for her office, helping solve several older cases with newer technologies like genetic genealogy.  Ms. Keyes has trained and worked with MDIs from other offices through her work on the executive committee of the International Association of Coroner and Medical Examiners (IACME) where she is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors. She is also a member of the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME), the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), the California State Coroner Association (CSCA), and an accreditation auditor of MDI offices through IACME.  Ms. Keyes has served on the MDI subcommittee of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) since its inception and is currently the Chair.  She has served as a subject matter expert for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) on multiple projects relating to investigating and certifying disaster-related deaths, development of the next generation of the Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS), Improving the Completeness and Specificity of Drug Information on Death Certificates, MDI Stakeholder’s Meeting, and updating the Guide for the Scene Investigator.

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