Forensic Technology Center of Excellence

Crime Scene Investigation

US and forensic science disciplines

2021 Forensic Science Research Federal Stakeholders Public Meeting

Overview The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in partnership with the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE), will hold a Forensic Science Research Federal Stakeholders meeting on November 8, 2021 from…
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2021 National Forensic Science Week Practitioner Interviews

← Back to Main Page Overview The FTCoE has conducted a variety of written interviews with forensic professionals in various stages of their careers. From recent graduates to retired professionals, the FTCoE showcases real-world perspectives on the current state of…

2021 National Forensic Science Week FTCoE Student Research Poster Session

Overview  As fall semesters are getting back into session and in honor of the upcoming National Forensic Science Week (September 19-25, 2021), the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) would like to highlight student research in the forensic sciences! The…
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Just a Cost Benefit Analysis of Sexual Assault Investigation

In episode four of our Research and Considerations for Sexual Assault Cases season, Just Science sat down with Dr. Rachel Lovell, Research Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University, and Mary Weston, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney at the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s…
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Just Trauma-Informed Victim-centered Interviewing

In episode three of our Research and Considerations for Sexual Assault Cases season, Just Science sat down with Natasha Alexenko, Jordan Satinsky, and Marya Simmons to discuss trauma informed, victim-centered interviewing for sexual assault cases.    A sexual assault victim’s experiences with law enforcement and advocates…
arrows pointing to circle with footwear tread

Image Quality and Clarity: The Keys to Forensic Digital Image Processing

This webinar originally occurred on August 3rd, 2021 Duration: 1 hour The ability to accurately and reliably analyze and compare forensic digital images relies on two key elements: image quality and image clarity.  Most forensic examiners understand that resolution plays…
hand touching hexagons

Working Group on Data Exchange in Medicolegal Death Investigation

Working Group on Data Exchange in Medicolegal Death Investigation The National Institute of Justice and its Forensic Technology Center of Excellence convene the Working Group on Data Exchange in Medicolegal Death Investigation in collaboration with and supported by the Centers…
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Just Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Pathology Portfolio

In episode three of our 2021 NIJ R&D and Beyond mini season, Just Science sat down with Danielle McLeod-Henning, a physical scientist and program manager in the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences at NIJ, to discuss Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Pathology.   Danielle McLeod-Henning has been the physical scientist in charge of the forensic…
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 Just the Impression and Pattern/Trace Evidence Portfolio

In episode two of our 2021 NIJ R&D and Beyond mini season, Just Science sat down with Dr. Gregory Dutton, a physical scientist in the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences at the National Institute of Justice, to discuss NIJ’s Impression, Pattern, and Trace Evidence research portfolio.    Between latent fingerprints,…

Evidence Collection and Analysis for Touch Deoxyribonucleic Acid in Groping and Sexual Assault Cases

Report Publication Journal of Forensic Nursing, April 2021 Introduction Historically, evidence collection in sexual assault cases focused on obtaining foreign contributor bodily fluids through swab collection. With improvements in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis methods, DNA profiles can be developed from touch…

Introduction to Touch DNA Evidence for Sexual Assault Groping Cases Video Series

Overview: The Importance of Touch DNA Evidence in Sexual Assault Groping Cases video series is presented by Dr. Julie Valentine and Heather Mills as a companion to the Journal of Forensic Nursing article entitled “Evidence Collection and Analysis for Touch…
Burning building/scientist collecting evidence

Advancing Fire Scene Investigations with Field Portable Technologies

This webinar originally occurred on April 6th, 2021 Duration: 1.5 hours This multi-year effort evaluated the application and limitations of field portable Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) systems.  The testing included three bench-top burns, nine flashover burns and 139 fire scenes with hundreds of samples…
Bloodstain pattern and a ruler

Lessons Learned from Proficiency Test Results in Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

This webinar originally occurred on April 15th, 2021 Duration: 1 hour The Daubert ruling by the Supreme Court established “the known or potential rate of error” as one of several factors to be used when assessing the scientific reliability or…
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Just Off The Shelf Forensics

In the final episode of the Case Studies season, Just Science sat down with Tim Schade and Brian Cochran to discuss off-the-shelf crime scene processing products.  Budgetary concerns often plague smaller forensic labs and law enforcement agencies. Scene investigators might realize that some of those expensive forensic tools might not be viable or…
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Just Identifying Fingerprints Through Photographs

In episode six of the Case Studies season, Just Science sat down with Karen Oswald, Senior Evidence Specialist with the Suffolk County Police Department in New York, to discuss methods for identifying fingers and hands captured in evidentiary photos. As cellphone and camera technologies continue…
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Just the Impact of Disturbing Media

In episode eight, Just Science interviews Dr. Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar from Purdue University about the impact of disturbing media on forensic professionals. Repeated exposure to violent and graphic media can have long-term negative effects on digital forensic examiners. Dr. Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar is researching the connection between disturbing media and the examiners who analyze it every…

Terrestrial LiDAR Scanning Working Group for Criminal Justice Applications, First Meeting Report

Report Date July 2020 Introduction On February 27 and 28 of 2020, The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), in partnership with the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) at RTI International, convened the first meeting of the Terrestrial LiDAR Scanning…
fire and hexagon tiles

Comparison of Portable and Benchtop GC–MS Coupled to Capillary Microextraction of Volatiles for the Extraction and Analysis of Ignitable Liquid Residues

Report Publication Forensic Chemistry, June 2020 Abstract A novel extraction device, capillary microextraction of volatiles (CMV) was coupled to a TRIDION-9 GC-MS with a needle trap (NTD) and evaluated for the analysis of ignitable liquids fire debris. The performance of…
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Just Applied Leadership for Resiliency in CSIs

 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…
fire burning on second floor of building

Ventilation Limited Fires: Considerations for Fire Pattern Analysis

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020 1:00:00 PM ET – 2:00:00 PM ET Duration: 1 hour(s) During the past decade, the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute has conducted research examining fire-fighting tactics.  This research found that factors such as construction materials, contents,…
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Just Skeletal Remains Identification

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…
Silhouette of two people beside building on fire

Modifications to Capillary Microextraction in Volatiles for the Extraction of Ignitable Liquid Residues

Report Date April 2020 Description This report summarizes the development and implementation of a novel sampling device (capillary microextraction of volatiles ) invented in the Almirall research group at Florida International University for ILR extraction as an alternative to current…

2019 National Institute of Justice Forensic Science Research and Development Symposium

This report was published in RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications on a broad range of topics. The areas of focus reflect RTI’s multidisciplinary research, our expertise in social and laboratory sciences, and our extensive international activities. Since…
Blood spatter on a white wall

Communicating Conclusions in Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019 1:00:00 PM ET – 2:30:00 PM ET Duration: 1.5 hour(s) The results of a bloodstain pattern analysis are communicated through written reports and courtroom testimony.  Principles of communication science will be discussed and explained to develop…
a bullet being fired from a revolver

Rapid and Effective Identification of Organic and Inorganic Gunshot Residues

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019 1:00:00 PM ET – 2:30:00 PM ET Duration: 1.5 hour(s) Forensic laboratories and law enforcement personnel provide valuable support in the reconstruction of events and the assessment of the value of evidence in firearm-related investigations. The…
scientist measuring bruises under blue and green lights

Detection and Visibility of Bruises Using Alternate Light: From Science to Practice

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 1:00:00 PM ET – 2:00:00 PM ET Duration: 1 hour(s) Bruising is one of the most common types of soft tissue injury noted on victims of violence, including those suffering intimate partner violence, sexual assault, child…
five scientists having a discussion behind glass

Handling Difficult and Disturbing Forensic Cases for Coroners and Medical Examiners

This webinar originally occurred on October 17th, 2019 Duration: 1 hour There are over 2000 medical examiner and coroner offices throughout the United States. All are involved in determining the cause and manner of death and communicating this information to…
tire treads and shoe print

Portable Advanced 3D Imaging for Footwear and Tire Impression Capture

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019 2:00 – 3:30 PM ET Duration: 1.5 hour(s) This webinar will explain the principles and capabilities of a fully automated portable system with an easy-to use-graphical user interface (GUI) for shoe and tire impression capture. We…

Juror comprehension of forensic expert testimony: A literature review and gap analysis

Heidi Eldridge Report Date Volume 1, 2019, Pages 24-34 Abstract Forensic scientists and commentators including academics and statisticians have been embroiled in a debate over the best way to present evidence in the courtroom. Various forms of evidence presentation, both quantitative…
old hand holding young hand

Cradle to Cane: Investigation of Crimes Against Vulnerable Victims

Overview: In 2017, the National Institute of Justice, Charleston Southern University, the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence, and the Shaken Baby Alliance worked together to create and host “From Cradle to Cane: Investigation of Crimes Against Vulnerable Victims.” This two-day conference, held in Charleston, SC, focused…

HHRRC – Building Forensic Capacity Post-Conflict: Lessons from Uganda

This webinar originally occurred on March 28th, 2019Duration: 1.5 hours This presentation introduces research conducted in Uganda at the nexus of forensic science and transitional justice, highlighting a large-scale forensic investigation and human identification capacity-building workshop for Ugandan stakeholders. Detailed…

In-Brief Report Series: Beyond DNA – Sexual Assault Investigations

Report Series Date January 2019 Introduction The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is committed in their efforts to support scientific advancement, evidence-based practices, and community awareness of our Nation’s sexual assault response. As NIJ’s Director, Dr. David B. Muhlhausen, indicated,…

ASCLD Train the Director – Trace Evidence for the Crime Laboratory

This webinar originally occurred on February 14th, 2019 Duration: 1 hour This course serves as an overview of the trace evidence discipline for the crime laboratory administration. This is the fourth webinar in the ASCLD Train the Director Webinar Series.…

ASCLD Train the Director – Fire Debris Analysis is Not Black Magic!

This webinar originally occurred on February 7th, 2019 Duration: 1 hour The webinar will introduce those laboratory managers with fire debris analysis sections to the nuances of fire debris analysis. This is part of the ASCLD Train the Director Webinar…

Success Story: Uncovering Key Details of Skeletal Remains through 3D-ID Software

NIJ and North Carolina State University Report Date January 2019 Impact “3D-ID has been an invaluable tool for us. Many of our unknown persons come from populations south of the Border. We use this program for every case with great…

Estimating Blow Fly Age and Reducing Error in Postmortem Interval Cases

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 2:00:00 PM ET – 4:00:00 PM ET Duration: 2 hour(s) Insect evidence can provide valuable information during death investigations. Forensic entomologists estimate the ages of the immature insects like blow flies, which can provide useful information…

Conference Proceedings: 2016 International Forensic Radiology Research Summit

This report was published in RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications on a broad range of topics. The areas of focus reflect RTI’s multidisciplinary research, our expertise in social and laboratory sciences, and our extensive international activities. Since…

Forensic Workforce Resiliency: Vicarious Trauma & Workplace Stress Webinar Series

Overview Professionals throughout the criminal justice system are exposed to the aftermath of violent crime and its victims. These individuals may include forensic nurses, crime scene investigators, forensic practitioners, medicolegal death investigators, and other professionals in related fields. Research has…

Conference Proceedings: 2018 Research and Development Symposium

This report was published in RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications on a broad range of topics. The areas of focus reflect RTI’s multidisciplinary research, our expertise in social and laboratory sciences, and our extensive international activities. Since…

Success Story: Establishing a “Microbial Clock” to Improve Time of Death Prediction

NIJ and Multi-Institute Academic Team Report Date April 2018 Impact “This research clearly demonstrated that there is potential to develop microbiome tools for estimating time of death. Developing connections with the right interdisciplinary collaborators was instrumental to the success of…

Success Story: NIST’s Dogs and Sensor Subcommittee Builds on Achievements by SWGDOG

NIJ and Florida International University Report Date April 2018 Impact “SWGDOG set the stage and provided a strong foundation of canine detector best practices that the OSAC Dogs and Sensor Subcommittee is currently developing into scientifically robust standards. The Subcommittee…
wood burning

Success Story: Advancing the Forensic Analysis of Ignitable Liquid Fuel Fires

NIJ and JENSEN HUGHES Report Date February 2018 Impact “Dr. Gottuk’s work has reduced the number of inaccurate arson determinations based on low burns and holes in the floor. It has even played a role in reversing some wrongful convictions…
vehicles driving in tunnel

Success Story: Improving the Reliability of Forensic Data from Vehicle Data Records

NIJ and Synercon Technologies Report Date December 2017 Impact “The Synercon Smart Sensor Simulators are not only a forensically sound way to download digital evidence from electronic control modules, they are also a time-saving and safer way to collect this…

2015 TechBeat Articles Featuring the FTCoE

Gunshot Residue Analysis Featured in New ftcoe Report Series Issue: Sep/Oct 2015 Pages: 3-8 Click here to read the article Familial DNA Project: Engaging Stakeholders, Sharing Opinions Issue: May/Jun 2015 Pages: 13-14 Click here to read the article Cutting-Edge Vacuum Technology: Locates hard to find…

A Technical Evaluation of Crime Scene Imaging Technologies

Report Date December 2013 Purpose This report discusses the specific results of the evaluation and considerations that an agency should make when deliberating the adoption of a panoramic imaging technology. Report Summary Digital crime scene documentation has become an essential component…

Multidisciplinary Sexual Violence Glossary

About the Multidisciplinary Sexual Violence Glossary The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) in collaboration with the Center for Nursing Excellence International (CFNEI) has developed a sexual violence online glossary for medical, law enforcement, and legal professionals. Effective communication among…

Technical Advances in the Visual Documentation of Crime Scenes

Introduction: Michelle Peace, Lyndsay Durham Context of Documentation: Marilyn Miller Practitioner overviews of each scanning technology: SceneVision – Panorama: Virginia Department of Forensic Science Panoscan: Roanoke and Arlington County Police Departments Leica ScanStation C10: Virginia State Police Leica Comparison Presentation:…

Utility of 3D Scanning Technologies Workshop

This 2-day workshop focused on introducing or enhancing forensic science practitioner’s knowledge and capabilities of 3D crime scene documentation technologies. Topics discussed include: -Scope and utility of Leica ScanStation C10 and Faro Focus -Strengths and limitations of each instrument -Evaluation…

2014 TechBeat Articles Featuring the FTCoE

Short Tandem Repeat Study Released Issue: Nov/Dec 2014 Page: 27 Click here to read the article Magneto-Optical technology shows promise in “Unerasing” Serial Numbers Issue: Sep/Oct 2014 Pages: 21-24 Click here to read the article Report Provides Insight Into Mobile ID Fingerprint Technology Issue: Jul/Aug 2014…
burned house and sofa on fire

Success Story: Identifying Ignitable Liquids in Fire Debris and Providing Error Rates for Purposes of Testifying

NIJ and University of Central Florida Report Date November 2016 Impact “This technique provides an alternative objective method for classifying ignitable liquid residues, which is one of the only viable options for helping to progress fire debris analysis beyond a…
sam quinones headshot

Success Story: Understanding the Ecology of Human Decomposition Methods for Estimating Postmortem Interval

NIJ and the National Museum of Health and Medicine Report Date April 2015 Impact “In life and death the body is its own ecosystem.” – Franklin Damann, PhD National Museum of Health and Medicine Click here to read the full…
DNA strand in magnifying glass and handcuffed hands

Success Story: Bringing Short Tandem Repeat DNA Identification to Law Enforcement

NIJ, UC Berkeley, and IntegenX Report Date April 2015 Impact “Ultimately, I think the most powerful application of this technology is going to be performing immediate analysis on DNA samples that are taken when people are arrested for felonies, because…