Past Seasons

Just Science Podcast Seasons


2021 NIJ R&D and Beyond

Despite being virtual, NIJ’s 2021 R&D Symposium was one of the most successful iterations of this meeting to date. With over 600 attendees across the globe, the audience was exceptionally diverse in terms of location and forensic discipline. In this Just Science mini-series, we sat down with the program managers of the four NIJ forensic portfolios to discuss the symposium and the future of their respective research areas. Listen along as our guests discuss research and emerging topics in various forensic disciplines, including seized drugs and toxicology; impression, pattern, and trace evidence; anthropology and forensic pathology; and DNA and biology!


Sexual Assault Awareness Month  - 2021

As national efforts to address sexual assault response reform continue to grow, more and more jurisdictions are resolving their sexual assault kit backlog and identifying causes associated with the accumulation of sexual assault kits. In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Just Science sat down with leaders in the field of sexual assault response reform to talk about current issues in this arena, including the impact of COVID-19. Listen along as our guests discuss methods for supporting victims of sexual assault while presenting considerations and resources for improving sexual assault response reform in this special release season of Just Science.  

Illicit Substance Use Response

Despite national efforts to reduce the impact, illicit substance abuse continues to rise in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that there were an average of 128 opioid related deaths per day in 2018. These numbers continue to rise. In order to meet the challenge head on, scientists, community leaders, justice professionals, and everyday citizens are working tirelessly to slow the abuse of opioids and reduce the impact that they have on our communities. In this season of Just Science, we’re sitting down with experts in the field to discuss topics like stigma, recovery, policy solutions, public safety systems, identifying drug trends, and much more.


2020 Case Studies

Description: Criminal investigations often necessitate the application of a multitude of forensic disciplines. While some cases can be solved by a single piece of evidence, most have a myriad of evidence types to forward and investigation. Bloodstains, DNA analysis, latent prints, digital evidence, and reliable police work lead to arrests and can stop a criminal before any more damage is done.  

In our latest season, Case Studies, we sat down with a variety of experts and talked about their most interesting cases. Join us as we discuss bloodstain pattern analysis, photography, serial killers, and much more in this dynamic season of Just Science! 

Episodes Include:

Just Off The Shelf Forensics
Just Erroneous Identification
Just Identifying Fingerprints Through Photographs
Just the Grim Sleeper Serial Killer
Just Fingerprints And Lasers
Just the Jodi Arias Case
Just the Story Behind Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
Just Psychopathy and Criminal Behavior


Description: In this Forensic Science Week special episode, Just Science interviews Brett Williams, the CEO of Verogen, about the GEDmatch database, how it can be used by law enforcement to perform forensic genealogy searches for investigative leads, and the short- and long-term plans Verogen has for the widely used database and related services.

Verogen is a spin-off of the Illumina corporation and has grown to be an innovator in the realm of forensic genomic technologies. Since their inception, Verogen has evolved from forensic applications to focus on biometrics-based human identification, as a whole. Following this vision, in December of 2019 Verogen  acquired GEDmatch, a crowd-sourced database used by millions of genealogy enthusiasts to trace their family trees, but more recently it has been adopted by law enforcement to aid in cold case investigations. Listen along with our guest host, Donia Slack, as she and Brett Williams discuss the impact that genetic genealogy and GEDmatch have had on the criminal justice system in this episode of Just Science.

Episode Link:

Just Forensic Genetic Genealogy and GEDmatch:  Verogen’s Approach


Description: While the realm of digital evidence is still relatively new, it requires validation and testing like all forensic disciplines. Digital evidence is a dynamic discipline that can often provide greater insight into the investigation of a crime or the defense of the alleged perpetrator. In this season of Just Science, we will be covering the history and interpretation of digital evidence, emerging technologies used in investigation and as evidence, and the validation of digital forensic tools. 

Episodes Include:

Just the Impact of Disturbing Media
Just Deepfakes
Just NIST’s Digital Forensics Black Box Study
Just Digital Evidence 101
Just Data Stories
Just Digital Evidence in the Courts of Appeals
Just A Public Defender’s Perspective
Just the Evolution of Digital Evidence


Description: In this special release episode of Just Science, we sat down with Ashley Church and Erin West, founders of Gap Science, to discuss stress and resiliency in crime scene investigators. Traumatic death investigation can have adverse, long-term effects on crime scene analysts.  As Ashley Church and Erin West moved through their respective careers, they noticed a lack of training around protecting the psychological well-being of forensic scientists. Gap Forensics is working to fill this void in knowledge and address the challenges that investigators are experiencing every day. Listen along as our guests discuss compassion fatiguethe supervisor’s role in protecting their people, and the impact of violent crime scenes on forensic scientists in this episode of Just Science.

Episode Link:

Just Applied Leadership for Resiliency in CSIs

Just COVID-19: The Impact to Supporting Victims of Sexual Assault

Description: This week on Just Science, we are publishing a special release episode in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Social distancing, shelter in place, and other responses to COVID-19 can create a stressful environment for survivors of sexual assault especially if they feel they cannot access resources or are physically unable to seek help. In addition, highly stressful situations that result from significant amounts of change, such as unemployment, disruption in ‘normal’ activities, and social isolation may increase the risk of domestic violence and sexual assault. In this podcast, we will discuss what services are available to survivors of sexual assault, including leveraging on-line platforms and modified strategies for first responders, rape crisis centers, and victim advocates. We will also discuss how we as a friend, family member, and community can be prepared to respond to a victim of sexual assault in this challenging time.

Episode Link:

Just COVID-19: The Impact to Supporting Victims of Sexual Assault

2020 NIJ R&D

Description: The 2020 NIJ R&D Season of Just Science features some of the research presented at the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Science Research and Development Symposium. Some of the interviews in this season were recorded at the 2020 AAFS 72nd Annual Scientific Meeting in Anaheim, CA, a professional meeting where attendees work to advance science, foster research, and promote collaboration within the various forensic science disciplines. This season’s topics include the analysis of fentanyl compounds in emerging drugs, a tool for species identification of skeletal remains, methods for analyzing beverages for cannabinoids, the detection of firearm discharge via electrochemical sensors, and more. Tune in this spring to learn more about NIJ’s diverse research portfolio!

Episodes Include:

Just Mitochondrial DNA
Just a Statistical Approach to Glass Evidence
Just Blowflies and Extreme Temperatures
Just Quick Screening Methods for Firearm Discharge Residues
Just Analyzing Beverages for Cannabinoids
Just Skeletal Remains Identification
Just Another Method for Detecting Fentanyl


Description: The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) Humanitarian and Human Rights Resource Center (HHRRC) seeks to promote humanitarian and human rights action in the field of forensic sciences. This effort would not be possible without the support provided by NIJ’s FTCoE and AAFS. The HHRRC improves the practice of forensic science and strengthens its impact on humanitarian and human rights issues through education and dissemination of best practices and guidelines. In this Just So You Know episode, Just Science sat down with Dr. Duarte Nuno Vieira and Dr. Cláudia Plens for a look at how NIJ’s support of the HHRRC aids their mission. Tune in as we gain a broader understanding of humanitarian forensic action and how the HHRRC impacts forensic research around the world.

Episode Link:

Just So You Know: The HHRRC's Impact


Description: Researchers, academics, and forensic scientists are constantly striving to make improvements to existing processes within the criminal justice system. While many advancements have been made in recent years, there will always be room for growth and change. To begin 2020, Just Science will be meeting with leaders in the field to discuss the current state of the criminal justice system and the advancements they anticipate in the coming years. Listen along as we talk to representative from the National Institute of Justice, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Innocence Project about their efforts to support and improve the criminal justice system.

Episodes Include:

Just the Innocence Project
Just the Organization of Scientific Area Committees
Just a Profile in Forensic R&D Innovations
Just the NIJ Needs Assessment of Forensic Laboratories and Medical Examiner/Coroner Offices



DNA evidence has had a significant impact on the criminal justice system. Since the National Commission on the Future of DNA evidence in the 1990s, DNA has evolved into one of the most respected disciplines in forensic science. The DNA season of Just Science focuses on DNA evidence and its use in forensic investigation. Topics include the impact of DNA evidence, the use of familial DNA in investigations, databases, case studies, and strategies to improve workflow efficiencies.


Special Release: Just CMEC

The last Census of Medical Examiners and Coroners was conducted in 2004 and stands as one of the most important resources for budget makers and policy changers. Since then, the realm of MDI has changed dramatically. With that in mind, BJS and RTI International are working tirelessly to create a useful tool that captures all the nuances of this field. Listen in as our guests discuss the development of the survey, the types of data being collected, and the impact that the survey will have on the MDI community. Unchanged: The last Census of Medical Examiners and Coroners was conducted in 2004 and stands as one of the most important resources for budget makers and policy changers. Since then, the realm of MDI has changed dramatically. With that in mind, BJS and RTI International are working tirelessly to create a useful tool that captures all the nuances of this field. Listen in as our guests discuss the development of the survey, the types of data being collected, and the impact that the survey will have on the MDI community.


2019 NIJ R&D

The 2019 NIJ R&D Season of Just Science will focus on the research featured at the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Science Research and Development Symposium. Some of these interviews were recorded at the 2019 AAFS 71st Annual Scientific Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. This conference, held by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, is a multidisciplinary professional meeting that provides leadership and opportunities to advance science, foster research, and promote collaboration within the various forensic science disciplines. Some of the episode topics include research with alternative light sources and bruising, infant abuse, age estimations of bloodstains, image cloud platform use, raman microspectroscopy, and much more.

Just Imaging Flow Cytometry
Release Date: July 22, 2019
Guest: Dr. Christopher Ehrhardt 

Just Flies and Their Artifacts
Release Date: July 12, 2019
Guest: Dr. David Rivers

 Just Raman Spectroscopy and GSR
Release Date: July 4, 2019
Guest: Dr. Igor Lednev

Just Putrid Databases
Release Date: June 25, 2019
Guest: Dr. Audris Mockus

Just Headspace Solid Phase Microextraction
Release Date: June 20, 2019
Guest: Dr. Jorn Yu

Just Screening Blood and Urine
Release Date: June 13, 2019
Guest: Dr. Rebecca Wagner

Just Detecting Gunshot Residue
Release Date: June 6, 2019
Guest: Dr. Suzanne Bell

Just RNA and Bloodstains
Release Date: May 29, 2019
Guest: Dr. Robert W. Allen

Just Fundamental Mechanics and Infant Skull Fractures
Release Date: May 21, 2019
Guest: Dr. Brittany Coats

Just Skin Deep
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Guests: Dr. Katherine Scafide and Dr. Daniel Sheridan

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a campaign designed to raise awareness about sexual violence and provide methods to prevent it. In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Just Science interviewed Pat Speck, a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and professor at the University of Alabama – Birmingham School of Nursing, about sexual assault testing and victim-centered care.

Just the Evolution of Sexual Assault Evidence Collection
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Guest: Dr. Patricia M. Speck


The Identification season of Just Science will focus on many of the different aspects of identification in forensic investigations. A majority of these interviews were recorded at the 2018 International Forensic Educational Conference in San Antonio, Texas. This conference, held by the International Association for Identification, represents a diverse and knowledgeable membership that meets annually to educate and share techniques, methods, and research into the various forensic science disciplines. The conference features lectures, poster presentations, and workshops dedicated to sharing knowledge and enhancing the forensic sciences. This season will include episodes covering sexual assault kit processing, psychological survival in violent careers, latent print examination, forensic art, microanthropology, and more.

Forensic Advancement

Unchanged: The Forensic Advancement season of Just Science will focus on many areas that challenge forensic leadership within the community. A majority of these interviews were recorded at the 2018 American Society of Crime Lab Directors (ASCLD) Annual Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia. The ASCLD Symposium is an industry-leading conference designed for leaders and managers in the forensic laboratory space. The symposium boasts workshops and plenary talks designed around all aspects of forensic science, but particularly focuses on enhancing leadership and management in a forensic laboratory. This season will include episodes covering performance tools, ASCLD efforts in rapid DNA, return on investment for DNA databases, witness testimony, millennial personnel, laboratory public relations, and more.

Just ASCLD Rapid DNA Committee
Release Date: December 3, 2018
Guests: Katie Featherston, Brian Hoey, and Jeremy Triplett

Just Psychological Resiliency
Release Date: November 26, 2018
Guest: Dr. David Christiansen

Just FORESIGHT on Sexual Assault Kits
Release Date: November 19, 2018
Guest: Dr. Paul Speaker

Just Cognitive Bias Awareness
Release Date: November 12, 2018
Guest: Dr. Cecilia Crouse

Just the Soul of the Profession
Release Date: November 5, 2018
Guests: John Collins and Jay Henry






Special Release: Medicolegal Death Investigation

Just So You Know: FTCoE Team

Just Science is releasing a special Just So You Know series in celebration of National Forensic Science Week. Get to know the leadership, scientific, and technical staff that help keep the center running smoothly year round. Guests include Dr. John Morgan, Dr. Jeri Ropero-Miller, Donia Slack, Nicole Jones, Heidi Eldridge, Dr. Megan Grabenauer, Sarah Norsworthy, Nichole Bynum, Katherine Moore, Erica Fornaro, Molly Dix, and Dr. Kelle Barrick.



2018 NIJ R&D

Just Science is releasing a season for the 2018 NIJ funded Research and Development. These guests were NIJ awardees that traveled to the annual AAFS Symposium this year in Seattle, Washington. Dive into the community's efforts to forward science and create a stronger justice system through knowledge. Some of the episode topics include research with skin microbiomes, SNP genotypes, implementing portable mass spec, and CT image databases.




In this season, Drugs, topics will range from legalization of marijuana in relation to police officers, the opioid epidemic, Electronic Dance Music Festivals, how witnesses’ and victims’ memory of events can be affected by alcohol, current vaping research, drug courts, and much more.




2018 Impression, Pattern and Trace Evidence Symposium

In this season we will cover content given at the NIJ Forensic Technology Center of Excellence’s Impression Pattern and Trace Evidence Symposium.  The symposium was held January 22nd -25th 2018 in Arlington, Virginia, it had over 200 onsite attendees and over 400 online attendees. This season will include episodes discussing nature's patterns, fracture mechanics, juror's interpretations of testimony, toolmarks, and footwear with each topic discussing real-world examples. If you missed the symposium and wish to watch the archives, please click here.

Just Talking Testimony
Release Date: April 9, 2018
Guest: Xiaoyu Alan Zheng, Henry Swofford, Mr. Chris Fabricant, Dr. Steven Lund, Dr. Hari Iyer, and Dr. Alicia Wilcox

Just Bayesian Brawl
Release Date: April 2, 2018
Guests: Dr. Jose Almirall, Dr. Steven Lund, Dr. Hari Iyer, Dr. Cedric Neumann, Dr. Daniel Ramos, and Dr. Alex Biedermann

Just Handwriting Statistics
Release Date: March 26, 2018
Guest: Cami Fuglsby

Just Consecutively Manufactured Toolmarks
Release Date: March 19, 2018
Guest: Robert Thompson

Just Footwear Size Does Matter
Release Date: March 12, 2018
Guests: Chris Hamburg and Jeff Jagmin

 Just Geeking Out on Patterns
Release Date: March 5, 2018
Guest: John Vanderkolk

 Just Shoeprint Statistics
Release Date: February 26, 2018
Guest: Andrew Kimble

Just A Juror’s Perception
Release Date: February 19, 2018
Guests: Dr. Alicia Wilcox and Heidi Eldridge

Episode Two: Just Fracture Matches
Release Date: February 12, 2018
Guest: Dr. Ashraf Bastawros

Just Nature’s Patterns
Release Date: February 7, 2018
Guest: John Vanderkolk



Special Release: Leadership

In this special release season on Leadership, you will hear interviews highlighting different areas where guests have excelled, along with some of their lessons learned. The season will highlight forensic professionals and teachers of leadership including Ben Swanholm, Jody Wolf, Martina Bison-Huckaby, and Jeremy Triplett. We will discuss their personal philosophies on leadership, how they came to be leaders in their own lives, and what their affiliations have added to the conversation. Stay tuned as Just Science helps to shed light on the complex issues of leadership.

Just So You Know: Leadership Series
Release Date: December 21, 2017

 Just Guidance Leadership
Release Date: December 18, 2017
Guest: Jeremy Triplett

Just Motivational Leadership
Release Date: December 11, 2017 
Guest: Martina Bison-Huckaby

Just Strategic Leadership
Release Date: December 4, 2017
Guest: Jody Wolf 

Just Servant Leadership
Release Date: November 27, 2017
Guest: Ben Swanholm



Case Studies

In the second season, Case Studies, Just Science interviews the prosecutors, investigators, victims, and crime lab directors that were involved with high profile cases. This season will highlight cases that seemed unsolvable at the time, but with some new technologies and innovation, these criminals were brought to justice. Topics include Munchausen syndrome by proxy, Human Trafficking, Odontology, Atlanta Olympic Bombing, International cases, Louisiana Serial Killer, and many more



R&D Symposium

Just Science released a special season for NIJ funded Research and Development. Dive into the community's efforts to forward science and create a stronger justice system through knowledge. Episode topics include research with one-pot meth, bath salts, gunshot acoustics, and postmortem interval estimation.






The first season of “Just Science,” titled Numbers will give listeners content focusing on issues that forensic scientists are faced with, such as error data or proof of data. We will explore new technologies and systems that provide more efficient ways of delivering quantitative results, as well as the human factors that go into producing solid data.