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Just Imaging Flow Cytometry

In episode ten of the 2019 R&D season, Just Science interviews Dr. Christopher Ehrhardt, professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, about a method for determining tissue type, age of evidence, and contributors from biological mixtures using cellular autofluorescence signatures.

It goes without saying that cells collected from different parts of the body look different. Buccal, vaginal, epidermal, and blood cells all have unique intrinsic properties. However, when they are combined, it can be difficult to discern what components are actually in the mixture. Using Imaging Flow Cytometry, Dr. Ehrhardt has found a way to differentiate between cell types, estimate cellular age, and identify contributors in the sample. Listen in as he discusses how autofluorescence data and cellular properties are being used to analyze samples without destroying the evidence 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].

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Dr. Christopher Ehrhardt is currently an associate professor in the Forensic Science Department at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. He received his PhD from University of California–Santa Barbara in earth and environmental sciences and completed postdoctoral appointments at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Laboratory Research Unit (Quantico, Virginia) and the National Security Directorate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, Washington). At Virginia Commonwealth, his research group studies the biochemistry, optical properties, and genetics of trace biological samples as well as front end methods for resolving cell mixtures for DNA casework.


Additional Resources:

2019 NIJ R&D Symposium Archival

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Just Flies and Their Artifacts

In episode nine of the 2019 R&D season, Just Science interviews Dr. David Rivers, a professor at Loyola University, about the detection of insect stains and the development of a quantifiable confirmatory test for fly contamination of bloodstain evidence.

There are roughly 86,000 species of flies that have been identified on a global scale. Approximately 16,000 species of flies reside in the United States. Of those 16,000 species, 1,000 are known to show interest in decomposing bodies. For post-mortem interval estimates, the species that lay eggs or deposit larvae are often considered the most useful. But now, that might not be the case. Instead of focusing on the life cycle of the fly, Dr. David Rivers has pursued a different characteristic: their behavior. Through extensive recording and observation, Dr. Rivers and his team have discovered that there are over 13 different artifacts produced as a direct result of a fly’s behavior. Listen in as he discusses the complexity of insect behavior and its potential use in a forensic investigation.

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

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Dr. David Rivers is professor of biology and director of forensic studies at Loyola University Maryland. He received a PhD in entomology with a concentration in insect physiology from the Ohio State University and was a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow in cellular and molecular parasitology at the University of Wisconsin. He is a member of the North American Forensic Entomology Association, Entomological Society of America, and American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He also is co-author of the critically acclaimed textbook The Science of Forensic Entomology and conducts research in several areas involving necrophagous flies and parasitic wasps as they relate to legal investigations.


Additional Resources:

2019 NIJ R&D Symposium Archival

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Just Raman Spectroscopy and GSR

In episode eight of the 2019 R&D season, Just Science interviews Dr. Igor Lednev, professor of Chemistry at the University of Albany, about using Raman Microspectroscopy and advanced statistics for detecting and characterizing gunshot residue.

Raman Spectroscopy is known as one of the most selective spectroscopic techniques because of the unique structural fingerprint that it produces from a sample material. Dr. Igor Lednev and his team at the University of Albany are now using Raman Microspectroscopy to detect and characterize gunshot residue. Listen in as he explains how Raman Spectroscopy works and the impact it will have on gunshot residue analysis.

If you are interested in emerging drug topics, please visit forensicCOE.org to learn more about the upcoming NIJ Policy and Practice Forum on July 18th and 19th. This forum will build off the momentum of the widespread stakeholder meetings convened to discuss the consequences of this national epidemic, including the impact it has had on public safety, public health, and the criminal justice response. You can attend in person or online.

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

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Dr Igor Lednev graduated from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Russian Federation, receiving his Ph.D. degree in 1983. Then Dr. Lednev worked at the Institute of Chemical Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, as a group leader till 1994. Since Perestroika, Dr. Lednev had been a visiting researcher at the University of York with Prof. Ronald Hester. He also worked as an academic visitor in Japan and Canada, and as a research professor at the University of Pittsburgh with Prof. Sanford Asher. Dr. Lednev joined the University at Albany faculty in 2002. His current research is focused on the development and application of novel laser spectroscopy for biomedical and forensic applications. Dr. Lednev was selected recently to serve as an advisory member of the Interagency Working Group, White House Subcommittee on Forensic Science, National Science and Technology Council. Dr. Lednev is a recipient of the Research Innovation Award; he has been interviewed for press coverage over dozen times during 2009-20010 by the leading science agencies including C&E News and the Royal Society of Chemistry. He has co-authored over 120 publications in peer-reviewed journals. 

 


Additional Resources:

2019 NIJ R&D Symposium Archival

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Just Putrid Databases

In episode seven of the 2019 R&D season, Just Science interviews Dr. Audris Mockus, a Professor in the Tickle College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, about the Image Cloud Platform for Use in Tagging and Research on Decomposition (ICPUTRD) database.

Over the last few decades, researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Forensic Anthropology Center have been photographing and cataloging the decomposition of the subjects in their body farm. With help from Dr. Audris Mockus, they’re turning this collection into an image database for both research and forensic investigation. Listen in as Dr. Mockus discusses the database and its potential impact on both post-mortem interval estimation and our understanding of human decomposition.

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

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Dr. Audris Mockus is the Ericsson-Harlan D. Mills Chair Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of the University of Tennessee. His latest interests concern models of the entire open-source software ecosystem based on version-control data and anthropological phenomena hidden in large image collections. He is interested in recovering information and creating models of reality from big operational data. Previously, he worked at Avaya Research, AT&T, and Lucent Bell Labs. He received a PhD in statistics from Carnegie Mellon University in 1994.


Additional Resources:

2019 NIJ R&D Symposium Archival

ICPUTRD Source Code
 
Contact info for working with ARF image collection:
 
Prof. Dawnie Steadman
502 Strong Hall
Phone: 865-974-0909
E-mail: osteo@utk.edu

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Just Headspace Solid Phase Microextraction

In episode six of the 2019 R&D season, Just Science interviews Dr. Jorn Yu, professor at Sam Houston State University, about the chemical analysis of controlled substances using automated headspace solid phase microextraction.

Developed in the 1990s, headspace solid phase microextraction isn’t necessarily a novel technique. While it is a reliable method for extracting analytes, it hasn’t really found a home in the forensic sciences until now. With support from an NIJ Grant, Dr. Jorn Yu is combining this tried extraction method with Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry. Listen in as he discusses a method for identifying controlled substances using headspace solid phase microextraction and GC/MS in this episode of Just Science.

If you are interested in emerging drug topics, please visit forensicCOE.org to learn more about the upcoming NIJ Policy and Practice Forum on July 18th and 19th in Washington, DC. This forum will build off the momentum of the widespread stakeholder meetings convened to discuss the consequences of this national epidemic, including the impact it has had on public safety, public health, and the criminal justice response.

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

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Listen on Google Play Music

 

You can also find us on Stitcher or Soundcloud 

 


Dr. Jorn Yu is a forensic scientist with 8 years of practical experience in crime scene investigation. He is currently a professor with the Department of Forensic Science at Sam Houston State University. Dr. Yu earned his PhD in chemistry from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Dr. Yu is certified in comprehensive criminalistics (Diplomat-ABC) with the American Board of Criminalistics. He is a fellow with the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Dr. Yu’s research interest is in the areas of chemical analysis of trace evidence and the development of chemical intelligence for crime scene investigation. The ultimate goal in his research laboratory is to develop artificial intelligence for forensics from chemical analysis of physical evidence.


Additional Resources:

2019 NIJ R&D Symposium Archival

Link to Publication

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Just Screening Blood and Urine

In episode five of the 2019 R&D season, Just Science interviews Dr. Rebecca Wagner, a researcher at the Virginia Department of Forensic Sciences in Richmond, about a comparison of two validated LC/MS methods for the quantitative analysis of opioids, cocaine, and cocaine metabolites in biological matrices. 

The state of Virginia is not immune to the current Opioids epidemic. Since 2012, the Virginia DFS has seen a 191% increase in the number of reported opioids results and a 1439% increase in the number of reported fentanyl results for death investigations. With these emerging drug trends on the rise, the DFS is searching for new ways to improve DUI and post-mortem toxicological screening. Listen in as Dr. Wagner discusses confirmation testing, sample conservation, and the development of new analytical methods in this episode of Just Science.  

If you are interested in emerging drug topics, please visit forensicCOE.org to learn more about the upcoming NIJ Policy and Practice Forum being held in DC. The forum will build off the momentum of the widespread stakeholder meetings convened to discuss the drug threats and the consequences of this national epidemic on the public safety and health and the criminal justice response. 

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

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Dr. Rebecca Wagner is employed by the Virginia Department of Forensic Science (VDFS) as a Research Analyst. Her duties include method development and validation, monitoring quality assurance/quality control, and technical training in the Toxicology, Controlled Substances, and Trace Evidence Section’s. She has played a pivotal role in the approach Virginia has taken in the estimation of uncertainty for measurements in toxicology and controlled substances. She is an affiliate member of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees and has co-chaired several workshops on uncertainty of measurement and method development for both regional and national forums. She is a member of the Society of Forensic Toxicology and routinely presents her research at the annual meeting. She received her PhD in analytical chemistry from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has been with VDFS since February of 2012.


Additional Resources:

2019 NIJ R&D Symposium Archival

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Just Detecting Gunshot Residue

In episode four of the 2019 R&D season, Just Science interviews Dr. Suzanne Bell, Professor and Chair of the Department of Forensic and Investigative Science at West Virginia University, to discuss a method for consistent single-shot detection of organic and inorganic gunshot residue. 

Smaller crime labs often face a lack of resources and don’t have the funds for the most current equipment used in the detection of gunshot residue. With that in mind, Dr. Bell and her team have created a way to detect GSR using a machine already found in most toxicology departments: a liquid chromatography mass spectrometer. Listen along as she discusses a method for using LC/MS to detect organic and inorganic gunshot residues from the same sample 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].

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Dr. Suzanne Bell is a professor and chair of the Department of Forensic and Investigative Sciences at West Virginia University. She served on the National Commission on Forensic Science (NCFS) from 2014 to 2017. In addition, she has served on the Scientific Working Groups for Seized Drug Analysis and Gunshot Residue, the Forensic Science Education Program Accreditation Commission, and the Organization of Scientific Area Committees subcommittee on GSR. She teaches forensic chemistry and toxicology courses and mentors students at the bachelor, master’s, and doctoral level. She has published numerous papers in internationally recognized peer-reviewed journals and is the associate editor for chemistry for the Journal of Forensic Sciences. She collaborates with forensic scientists and practitioners in the United States, Europe, and Brazil and did a sabbatical at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology in 2015. She is the author of two editions of the textbook Forensic Chemistry (Pearson/Prentice Hall), Introduction to Microscopy (CRC Press), and the 4th and 5th editions of the comprehensive introductory text Forensic Science: An Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques (CRC Press). She gives invited lectures and teaches workshops on estimation of uncertainty in forensic science at conferences and for state and local forensic science laboratories. Her current research projects relate to the toxicity of synthetic cannabinoids and new approaches to firearms discharge residue.


Additional Resources:

2019 NIJ R&D Symposium Archival

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Just RNA and Bloodstains

In episode three of the 2019 R&D season, Just Science interviews Dr. Robert Allen, professor and head of the Forensic Sciences Department at Oklahoma State University, about a method to estimate the age of bloodstains using quantitative PCR.

Traditionally, RNA has been used to identify types of cells and to determine if a sample of blood came from two sources. Dr. Allen and his team have found a new use for the single-strand genetic material – estimating the age of dried blood. By studying the ratios of degradation that take place in RNA, they can estimate the age of a blood stain up to three years old. Listen along as our guest discusses his research and RNA’s role in body fluid identification.

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

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Dr. Robert W. Allen is the chair and program director as well as a professor of forensic sciences at the School of Forensic Sciences, Center for Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Tulsa, Oklahoma. His PhD in molecular biology and genetics was awarded in 1977 from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, after which he had a postdoctoral fellowship at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla, California. He has published 82 publications, with 2 more in press and 2 in preparation. He is the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Forensic Investigation.


Additional Resources:

2019 NIJ R&D Symposium Archival

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Just Fundamental Mechanics and Infant Skull Fractures

In episode two of the 2019 R&D season, Just Science interviews Dr. Brittany Coats, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Utah, about her efforts to use fundamental mechanics to predict infant skull fracture patterns. Over 600,000 children suffer from abuse or neglect each year. The highest percentage of those are less than one year old. After a child suffers an injury, clinicians and investigators often rely on experience to determine if abuse is present, but experience can sometimes be too subjective. Dr. Brittany Coats has spent years researching biomechanics to understand the difference between accidental and abusive trauma, especially in infants. Listen along as she discusses the role of experience in understanding head trauma and her journey to create a computational model to predict how an infant’s skull will fracture in an accident. 

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

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Dr. Brittany Coats is an associate professor and associate chair of mechanical engineering at the University of Utah. She holds affiliated positions in ophthalmology and visual sciences, pediatrics, and bioengineering. Her research focuses on injury mechanics of the brain and eye, with specific interest in understanding microstructural features and properties that lead to better prevention, detection, and treatment strategies for injury in children and adults. She received her PhD in bioengineering at University of Pennsylvania. Her postdoctoral research forged collaborations with neurosurgeons and ophthalmologists at the University of Pennsylvania to investigate the effect of repetitive head trauma on brain and ocular injury. Her current research efforts are supported by grants from the Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and National Institute for Justice.


Additional Resources:

2019 NIJ R&D Symposium Archival

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Just Skin Deep

In episode one of the 2019 R&D season, Just Science interviews Dr. Katherine Scafide and Dr. Daniel Sheridan about their use of Alternative Light Sources for the detection and assessment of cutaneous bruising. Until the 1990s, it was commonly believed that clinicians and forensic professionals could estimate a bruise’s age by analyzing its color change. Now, we know that isn’t the case. To fill this gap in knowledge, Dr’s Scafide and Sheridan are working on creating a method for accurately assessing bruises by utilizing different filters to isolate wavelengths of light.  Listen along as they discuss the characteristics of bruising, the factors affecting bruise perception, and their innovative use of paintballs 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].

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Dr. Katherine Scafide is an assistant professor at the George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services (view profile here), where she conducts research and mentors doctoral studies. As a forensic nurse, she worked as a pediatric and adult sexual assault nurse examiner for 8 years and was a death investigator for the State of Maryland’s medical examiner’s office (2005–2010). Dr. Scafide’s prior research explored the use of colorimetry in examining the impact of skin color, fat, and sex on changes in bruise color over time. The results were published in leading forensic and medical journals. She is still known as the “paintball lady” for her unique method of creating bruises. Dr. Scafide has also developed and tested a metric for quantifying bruise visibility (Bruise Visibility Scale). Through existing engineering partnerships, she hopes to expand this work using machine learning of digital images. Dr. Scafide’s current research interests involve addressing the disparity in the identification and documentation of injuries among victims of violence, particular those of color, using innovative technologies.

Dr. Daniel Sheridan is a professor at the Texas A&M University College of Nursing, where in 2015, he created its Forensic Nursing Education, Research and Intervention Program. Dr. Sheridan has been a forensic nurse since 1986 and is a former president of the International Association of Forensic Nurses. Dr. Sheridan has created two hospital emergency department–based family violence intervention programs: the first at Chicago’s Rush Medical Center; the second at the Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital in Portland, Oregon. He has extensive clinical experience with patients experiencing intimate partner violence, adult sexual assault, strangulation, and the abuse/neglect of older and vulnerable persons. Dr. Sheridan has performed over 500 forensic sexual assault/intimate partner evidentiary exams, most at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center Forensic Nurse Examiner Program. He used alternate light in his forensic clinical practice for many years. He created and coordinated for 12 years a forensic nursing graduate academic program at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and has chaired and co-chaired numerous violence/injury-related dissertations and thesis capstone projects. His research interests include use of alternate light to improve bruise assessments; identification of topical products that could give false positive results mimicking bruises; identification of women at risk of intimate partner homicide; primary prevention of violence with school-aged children; and increased identification of abuse/ neglect of older and vulnerable persons.

 

 


Additional Resources:

2019 NIJ R&D Symposium Archival

George Mason University Nursing

Forensic Nursing: Finding the Best Ways to Assess Bruises Video