<<< back to all episodes

In episode seven of the 2020 R&D Season, Just Science interviews Kimberly Sturk-Andreaggi, a Research Scientist at the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, about the development of entire mitogenome reference data using an automated high-throughput sequencing workflow.  

Disaster victim identification comes with a unique set of hurdles. Poor-quality DNA, decades-old samples, and a lack of relative referential data can make the identification of victims from current and past conflicts challenging. This is the reason that the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory uses mitochondrial DNA as their primary testing method. Stay tuned as our guest discusses the utility of mitochondrial DNA and a method for developing entire mitogenome reference data 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/Download at:
Listen on Google Play Music

 

You can also find us on Stitcher or Soundcloud


Kimberly Sturk-Andreaggi is a Research Scientist in the Emerging Technologies (formerly Research) Section at the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System’s Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFMES-AFDIL). She received her undergraduate degree in Bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003, and her Master of Forensic Sciences from the George Washington University in 2005. She is currently working on her doctoral degree in Medical Genetics at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. Over her 15+ year tenure at the AFMES-AFDIL, Ms. Sturk-Andreaggi has contributed to and managed various projects including mitochondrial DNA coding region SNP panels, species identification, low template techniques, automated processing and the development of population databases. For the last several years, her primary focus has been on the use of next-generation, or massively parallel, sequencing for human identification.

 


Additional Resources:

View the 2020 NIJ R&D Symposium Archived Presentation
FTCoE Biology and DNA Resources (webinars, reports, events)
 

<<< back to all episodes

In episode six of the 2020 R&D Season, Just Science interviews Dr. José Almirall, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida International University, about a statistical approach for the interpretation of glass evidence.

One criticism levied against trace evidence examinations is that the interpretation can sometimes be too subjective. Interpretation sometimes plays a large role in the evaluation of trace evidence. Dr. Almirall and his team at FIU are trying to fix that. They have been working on an implementation package, including instrument specification, procedures, and validation assistance, that can be transferred to any forensic laboratory to help standardize trace evidence evaluation. Listen along as he discusses the implementation package, the value of trace evidence, and the analysis of glass 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].

 

Just Science · Just a Statistical Approach to Glass Evidence_2020NIJRandD_130

 

Listen/Download at:
Listen on Google Play Music

 

You can also find us on Stitcher or Soundcloud


José R. Almirall is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Director of the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Advanced Research in Forensic Science (CARFS). Professor Almirall has authored one book and ~ 145 peer-reviewed scientific publications in the fields of analytical and forensic chemistry (h-index ~ 40). Prof. Almirall and his research group have authored and co-authored 5 ASTM standards within the fields of forensic chemistry. His group has been awarded 5 patents related to VOC sampling and analysis using capillary microextration. The primary applications developed in the Almirall laboratory for CMV have been the sampling, preconcentration and analysis of explosives and of VOCs associated with explosives and drugs. He has also served as a consultant to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Government of Spain and the U.S. Government, most recently serving as a judge of a DHS Challenge to detect opioids in parcels at mail facilities. Dr. Almirall is also interested in the standardization of analytical methods used by forensic scientists and currently chairs the Chemistry Scientific Area Committee (SAC) of the NIST-funded Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC). He currently serves as consultant to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the forensic analysis of materials and has served as chair of the Fire Scene Investigation working group of the AAAS. Dr. Almirall is also interested in commercializing technology and has started Air Chemistry, Inc. to commercialize CMV. Prof. Almirall is also the Editor-in-Chief of Forensic Chemistry, an Elsevier journal

 


Additional Resources:

View the 2020 NIJ R&D Symposium Archived Presentation

<<< back to all episodes

In episode five of the 2020 R&D Season, Just Science interviews Dr. Travis Rusch, a postdoctoral research associate at Texas A&M University, about fluctuating temperatures in forensically important blowflies. Forensic entomologists use predictable developmental rates of certain necrophagus insects to estimate time of colonization, postmortem interval, and time of death.  However, extreme fluctuations in temperature can affect these development rates in unknown ways. Dr. Rusch hopes to shed light on this issue and advance the field of forensic entomology through his grant work. Listen along as he discusses the utility of forensic entomology, the life cycle of blowflies, and the next phase of his research 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/Download at:
Listen on Google Play Music

 

You can also find us on Stitcher or Soundcloud


Travis Rusch obtained his BS degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and his PhD from Arizona State University. He is currently a postdoctoral research associate at Texas A&M University. Travis is a broadly trained thermal biologist investigating how animals function across landscapes. While he has examined the behavioral and physiological responses of lizards to altered thermal environments, his focus has shifted to the thermal biology of necrophagous insects. This system provides a comprehensive understanding of ecological systems while offering exciting applications in forensic entomology and disease ecology. He currently working on a project that examines how fluctuating temperatures alter the development of forensically important insects, such as blow flies. This research will improve estimates of forensically important timelines, such as time of insect colonization on dead bodies, which will help improve estimates of the postmortem interval in death investigations.

 


Additional Resources:

View the 2020 NIJ R&D Symposium Archived Presentation

<<< back to all episodes

In this episode of the 2020 R&D Season, Just Science interviews Dr. Tatiana Trejos, Assistant Professor of the Department of Forensic and Investigative Sciences at West Virginia University, about the rapid detection of organic and inorganic gunshot residue. Speed and accuracy are vital when it comes to the analysis of gunshot residue. Dr. Trejos and her team are working on a comprehensive method for studying both organic and inorganic gunshot residue utilizing laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy. This method focuses on providing accurate results, reducing wait time, and preserving the evidence. Listen along as she discusses chemometrics and a novel tool for analyzing organic and inorganic gunshot residue 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/Download at:
Listen on Google Play Music

 

You can also find us on Stitcher or Soundcloud


Dr. Tatiana Trejos is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Forensic and Investigative Sciences at West Virginia University. Dr. Trejos teaches forensic chemistry and research design courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Dr. Trejos’ primary research interest includes the application of chemometrics to evidence interpretation and the discovery of chemical signatures of forensic materials by spectroscopic methods, such as SEM-EDS, ICP-MS, Laser Ablation ICP-MS, u-XRF, and Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy. Dr. Trejos’ recent research focuses on the analysis of trace evidence materials, inks, and gunshot residues. Tatiana Trejos has authored over 35 peer-reviewed scientific publications and book chapters in the field of forensic chemistry and has presented over 140 oral presentations and posters at scientific meetings worldwide. Dr. Trejos is the recipient of the prestigious science and technology award “Clodomiro Picado Twight” from the Costa Rican National Academy of Sciences (2015). Tatiana has contributed to different scientific working groups, including the EU-funded NITECRIME group, the NIJ-funded Elemental Analysis Working Group (EAGW), and the NIJ-funded Glass Interpretation Working Group. One of the most relevant achievements of these professional groups is the development of technically sound and consensus-based standards to improve forensic practice (e.g., American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) standard methods). Tatiana was appointed by NIST to serve as a member of the Materials (Trace) Subcommittee within the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC), where she currently serves as chair of the Glass Task Group, and member of the Interpretation, Research, and Physical Fit Groups.

 


Additional Resources:

View the 2020 NIJ R&D Symposium Archived Presentation

<<< back to all episodes

In episode three of the 2020 R&D Season, Just Science interviews Dr. Carl Wolf from the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals about 40 plus ways NOT to analyze beverages for cannibinoids. From professional student, to a leading researcher in the analysis of cannabinoids, Dr. Wolf has been involved in academia for decades. In that time, he has consulted and lectured on toxicology, given expert testimony, contributed to over 100 presentations and peer-reviewed publications, and worked on multiple NIJ-funded grants. Tune in as he talks about academia, analyzing beverages for cannabinioids, and the value of failure 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/Download at:
Listen on Google Play Music

 

You can also find us on Stitcher or Soundcloud


Dr. Wolf received his BS in Chemistry from Gannon University, Erie, Pennsylvania in 1986, where he received the CRC Press’ Outstanding Freshman Chemist Award.  Dr. Wolf received his MS in Criminal Justice, with a Forensic Science option from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1994, and received his Ph.D. in Pathology, with a focus on Forensic Toxicology from the Medical College of Virginia Campus at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2005.  Dr. Wolf has been employed at Medical College of Virginia Hospitals since 1987 in various roles in the Clinical and Forensic Toxicology Laboratories.  Dr. Wolf regularly consults and/or lectures on toxicology and drug testing issues.  Dr. Wolf has given expert testimony in several jurisdictions in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of North Carolina.  Dr. Wolf has contributed to over 100 presentations and peer-reviewed publications.  Dr. Wolf is a full member of the Society of Forensic Toxicologists.  Dr. Wolf is a Fellow of the American Board of Forensic Toxicologists (ABFT), and has been certified by ABFT since 2001. Dr. Wolf was a member of the group that received the 2007 Educational Innovation Award from the School of Medicine at the Medical College of Virginia Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University for their work on developing and maintaining an on-line continuing education program for chronic non-malignant pain management curriculum. In 2017, Dr. Wolf received a grant from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to study the matrix effects that liver tissue has on the analysis of opiates using ten different sample preparation techniques. 

 


Additional Resources:

View the 2020 NIJ R&D Symposium Archived Presentation
Just Liver Die

<<< back to all episodes

 In episode two of the 2020 R&D Season, Just Science interviews Dr. Heather Garvin, Associate Professor of Anatomy at Des Moines University, about her work with OSTEOID, an online resource for species identification of skeletal remains. 

Approximately 30-40% of cases involving skeletal remains received by forensic anthropologists end up being animal bones. Forensic anthropologists can use their expert knowledge to quickly determine if the remains are human. Dr. Garvin and her team are working on a free, practical, and user-friendly online tool to help forensic anthropologists, death investigators, crime scene personnel, and law enforcement identify the species of skeletal remains. Tune in as she discusses being a forensic anthropologist, the driving need behind OSTEOID, and her work cataloging bone specimens for this project. 

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/Download at:
Listen on Google Play Music

 

You can also find us on Stitcher or Soundcloud


Dr. Heather Garvin is currently an Associate Professor of Anatomy at Des Moines University, where she teaches medical students, continues her human skeletal research, and conducts forensic anthropology cases for the State of Iowa. Dr. Garvin began her journey in forensic anthropology as an undergraduate volunteer at the C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory at the University of Florida. Graduating with a B.A. in Anthropology, and B.S. in Zoology, she then earned a M.S. in Forensic and Biological Anthropology from Mercyhurst College and completed a PhD in Functional Anatomy and Evolution from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. From 2012-2017, she taught undergraduate and graduate students in Forensic Anthropology at Mercyhurst University, and was heavily involved in casework and research. Dr. Garvin became a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology in 2017 and has served on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Forensic Sciences since 2015. Her research interests include forensic anthropological methods, human skeletal variation, functional morphology, 3D scanning and geometric morphometrics. She has more than 30 publications and 50 national presentations related to this research and is a Fellow in the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and a Member of the American Association of Physical Anthropology.

 


Additional Resources:

View the 2020 NIJ R&D Symposium Archived Presentation

<<< back to all episodes

In episode one of the 2020 R&D Season, Just Science interviews Dr. Ling Wang, post-doctoral associate at Florida International University, about the detection and quantitation of fentanyl mixtures by Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy and Chemometrics.

Opioid abuse has grown considerably in the last few years. New fentanyl analogs appear in street drugs at an alarming rate. Researchers like Dr. Wang are working to create alternative screening methods to detect the ever-evolving fentanyl compounds in today’s seized drugs. Listen along as she discusses graduate programs, the nuances of analyzing fentanyl, and her work in the detection and quantitation of emerging drug compounds 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/Download at:
Listen on Google Play Music

 

You can also find us on Stitcher or Soundcloud


Dr. Ling Wang is a postdoctoral associate in Dr. Bruce McCord’s lab at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, Florida USA.  Dr. Wang obtained her Ph.D. in 2017 in Chemistry in Forensic Track and MSFS at FIU. Since her Ph.D. program, she has worked on seized drug analysis with chemosensors, biosensors, colorimetric reagents, Surface-Enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), and electrochemistry.  Presently, she is working on the development of new electrochemical sensors and platforms for opioid detection as well as a new project involving the use of microwave based extraction methods for rapid DNA analysis.  Dr. Wang has published 4 peer reviewed papers and has presented her work in a variety of national and international venues including Pittcon, AAFS, Florida ACS and nanoFlorida.   


Additional Resources:

View the 2020 NIJ R&D Symposium Archived Presentation