Trace Evidence

All of our webinars, reports, podcast episodes, and other educational resources are available to the public at no cost.

Funding for the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence has been provided by the National Institute of Justice.

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2024 NIJ Forensic Science R&D Symposium

Overview The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE) will assist the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in hosting the annual NIJ Forensic Science Research and Development (R&D) Symposium on Tuesday, February 20, 2024, from 8:30am – 5:00pm Mountain Standard Time (10:30am – 7:00pm EST) at the…

What FSSP Leaders Should Know about Artificial Intelligence and its Application to Forensic Science In-Brief

Date December 2023 Overview Artificial intelligence (AI), which leverages computers to perform tasks that enhance decision-making, problem-solving capabilities, and technology-driven innovativeness,” is a rapidly growing area of interest for both industry and the federal research and development (R&D) community.1 For forensic science service…

Validation of a Confirmatory Proteomic Mass Spectrometry Body Fluid Assay

← Back to Webinar Series Page This webinar originally occurred on December 7, 2023Duration: 1 hour Overview With increasingly sensitive forensic methods for DNA detection, the source from which a DNA profile is obtained becomes increasingly important. Was an individual’s…

FLN-TWG: A Roadmap to Improve Research and Technology Transition in Forensic Science

← Back to FLN-TWG Main Page  Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group (FLN-TWG) The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), in partnership with the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE) at RTI International, formed the Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group…

2023 National Forensic Science Week Puzzle Fingerprint Examination Wordsearch

← Back to Main Page ← Back to All Puzzles Page Puzzle Instruction To view and complete the puzzle in a separate window, click the expanding arrows in the tool bar above the puzzle title. To input your answers click…

2023 National Forensic Science Week Interview Montage

← Back to Main Page Overview In the past, the FTCOE has released written interviews with forensic practitioners in various stages of their career and working in various forensic disciplines. This year, we created a video comprised of multiple interviews with forensic practitioners from seasoned subject matter experts to young professionals early…

2023 National Forensic Science Week

Overview National Forensic Science Week (September 18-22, 2023) recognizes the contribution that forensic science makes to the criminal justice system. It is an opportunity to celebrate academic programs, forensic professionals, and scientific research in the various forensic disciplines.   Throughout the…

2022 National Forensic Science Week FTCOE Student Research Poster Session

← Back to Main Page Overview Thursday, September 22, 2022 | Posters will be available at 1:00 PM Eastern Welcome to our virtual poster session! As fall semester begins and in honor of National Forensic Science Week (September 18-24, 2022),…

Hair Root Staining – What Can Hematoxylin Do for Your Laboratory?

This webinar originally occurred on August 16, 2022 Duration: 1 hour Overview Hair evidence collected as part of a forensic investigation has the potential to provide valuable source information through DNA analysis of its root. In the years prior to…
brain, DNA, bloodstain

Human Factors in Forensic Science Practice Sourcebook

Publication Forensic Science International: Synergy, March 2022 Editors Heidi Eldridge, PhD | RTI International Barbara A. Spellman, JD, PhD | University of Virginia School of Law Thomas Busey, PhD | Indiana University, Psychological and Brain Sciences Working Group Members Paul…
fire and cogwheels

Development of an Extraction Technique for Ignitable Liquid Residues (ILR) in the Field using Capillary Microextraction of Volatiles (CMV) and Person-Portable GC-MS

← Additional Portable Instrumentation for On-Scene Fire Debris Analysis Resources Date February 2022 Overview The work in this report is an extension of the capillary microextraction of volatiles (CMV) application (M. Torres et al., 2020) by Florida International University, reported…
fire, smoke, gas

Evaluation of Capillary Microextraction of Volatiles (CMV) Coupled to a Person-Portable Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GC–MS) for the Analysis of Gasoline Residues

← Additional Portable Instrumentation for On-Scene Fire Debris Analysis Resources Publication Forensic Chemistry, March 2022 Authors Michelle N. Torres | Florida International University José R. Almirall | Florida International University Abstract A novel dynamic headspace extraction device, the capillary microextraction of…
video screen

Capturing Key Research Outcomes Using Short Video Vignettes: A Guidance Document

Date February 2022 Author David Matthew | David Matthew LLC, Wichita, Kansas Overview This document outlines the process of designing engaging video vignettes to disseminate results from complex research projects in a manner that is easily digestible by practitioners. More…
fire & testing

The Field Application of GC/MS For Fire & Arson Investigations Video Series

← Additional Portable Instrumentation for On-Scene Fire Debris Analysis Resources Overview The purpose of this project was to design engaging video vignettes to disseminate results from a complex research project. The project team developed a guidance document that specifically describes…

Portable Instrumentation for On-Scene Fire Debris Analysis

Overview The use of field portable instrumentation, including portable gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS) and photoionization detection, for on-scene fire debris analysis can allow for more efficient scene processing and a reduction in the amount of evidence sent for confirmatory…
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), held a Forensic Science Research Federal Stakeholders meeting on November 8, 2021 from 9:00AM…
question marks and silhouettes

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

← Back to Main Page 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…
microphone and headphones

 Just the Impression and Pattern/Trace Evidence Portfolio

Original Release Date: June 11, 2021 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…
Burning building/scientist collecting evidence

Advancing Fire Scene Investigations with Field Portable Technologies

← Additional Portable Instrumentation for On-Scene Fire Debris Analysis Resources This webinar originally occurred on April 6, 2021. Duration: 1.5 hours Overview 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,…
various explosives, including fireworks

Intact Low Explosives Analysis with an Emphasis on Microscopical Methods

This webinar originally occurred on July 16, 2020 Duration: 1.5 hours Overview The presenters in this webinar will discuss intact low explosives analysis with an emphasis on microscopical methods. They will cover basic terminology for explosives, the rationale of low…
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

← Additional Portable Instrumentation for On-Scene Fire Debris Analysis Resources Publication Forensic Chemistry, June 2020 Authors Michelle N. Torres | Florida International University Nicole B. Valdes | Florida International University José R. Almirall | Florida International University Abstract A novel…
microphone and headphones

Just Quick Screening Methods for Firearm Discharge Residues

Original Release Date: April 10, 2020 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…
Silhouette of two people beside building on fire

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

← Additional Portable Instrumentation for On-Scene Fire Debris Analysis Resources Date March 2020 Overview 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…

2019 National Institute of Justice Forensic Science Research and Development Symposium

Date February 2019 Overview The 2019 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Forensic Science Research and Development (R&D) Symposium is intended to promote collaboration and enhance knowledge transfer of NIJ-funded research. The NIJ Forensic Science R&D Program funds both basic or…
a bullet being fired from a revolver

Rapid and Effective Identification of Organic and Inorganic Gunshot Residues

This webinar originally occurred on November 20, 2019 Duration: 1.5 hours Overview 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 scientific validity…

Success Story: Enabling Forensic Field Testing with Paper Microfluidic Devices

National Institute of Justice and Florida International University Date April 2019 Overview Forensic investigators, law enforcement, and military personnel are often placed in potentially dangerous situations when they come across suspected drugs, explosives, and bodily fluids while in the field.…
microphone & headset

Identification: Just the Sole of Impression Pattern Evidence

← Back to Just Science Podcast Original Release Date: February 4, 2019 In episode one of our Identification season, Just Science interviews Lesley Hammer, former president of the International Association for Identification and the current Chair of the Education Committee…

ASCLD Train the Director – Trace Evidence for the Crime Laboratory

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

Conference Proceedings: 2018 Impression Pattern and Trace Evidence Symposium

Date May 2018 Overview From January 22 to 25, 2018, RTI International, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE) held the 2018 Impression, Pattern and Trace Evidence Symposium (IPTES) in Arlington, VA, to…

Conference Proceedings: 2018 Research and Development Symposium

Date April 2018 Overview The 2018 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Forensic Science Research and Development (R&D) Symposium is intended to promote collaboration and enhance knowledge transfer of NIJ-funded research. The NIJ Forensic Science R&D Program funds both basic or…

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

National Institute of Justice and Multi-Institute Academic Team Date April 2018 Overview The postmortem interval (PMI) is the time that has elapsed since a person’s death. Determining the PMI at a crime scene may help to recreate the victim’s timeline…

Applied Polarized Light Microscopy for Trace Evidence Examiners

Date April 2018 Overview Polarized light microscopy (PLM) is a technique commonly used in the field of forensic science. PLM characterizes and identifies trace evidence found at crime scenes, such as fibers, hairs, paints, and glass fragments. This workshop introduced…
wood burning

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

National Institute of Justice and JENSEN HUGHES Date February 2018 Overview Investigating fires with “liquid fuel” is particularly challenging, as the combustion of building materials often conceals the presence of the fuel. JENSEN HUGHES, led by Dr. Daniel Gottuk, evaluated…

2018 IPTES Plenary – Closing Keynote Speaker Adam Benforado

Overview IPTES was designed to bring together practitioners and researchers to enhance information-sharing and promote collaboration among the impression, pattern, and trace evidence analysts, law enforcement, and legal communities. This original Live Webinar took place on 01/25/2018. The National Institute…

2018 IPTES – Trace Evidence Breakout Day 2 PM

Overview IPTES was designed to bring together practitioners and researchers to enhance information-sharing and promote collaboration among the impression, pattern, and trace evidence analysts, law enforcement, and legal communities. This original Live Webinar took place on 01/25/2018. The National Institute…

2018 IPTES – Trace Evidence Breakout Day 2 AM – Part 2

Overview IPTES was designed to bring together practitioners and researchers to enhance information-sharing and promote collaboration among the impression, pattern, and trace evidence analysts, law enforcement, and legal communities. This original Live Webinar took place on 01/25/2018. The National Institute…

2018 IPTES – Trace Evidence Breakout Day 2 AM – Part 1

Overview IPTES was designed to bring together practitioners and researchers to enhance information-sharing and promote collaboration among the impression, pattern, and trace evidence analysts, law enforcement, and legal communities. This original Live Webinar took place on 01/25/2018. The National Institute…

2018 IPTES – Trace Evidence Breakout Day 1 PM

Overview IPTES was designed to bring together practitioners and researchers to enhance information-sharing and promote collaboration among the impression, pattern, and trace evidence analysts, law enforcement, and legal communities. This original Live Webinar took place on 01/24/2018. The National Institute…

2018 IPTES Plenary – Statistics & Testimony From Practitioner

Overview IPTES was designed to bring together practitioners and researchers to enhance information-sharing and promote collaboration among the impression, pattern, and trace evidence analysts, law enforcement, and legal communities.This original Live Webinar took place on 01/24/2018. The National Institute of…

2018 IPTES Plenary – Opening Remarks & Statistical Approaches

Overview IPTES was designed to bring together practitioners and researchers to enhance information-sharing and promote collaboration among the impression, pattern, and trace evidence analysts, law enforcement, and legal communities. This original Live Webinar took place on 01/24/2018. The National Institute…

Detection of Organic Gunshot Residue Using Capillary Microextraction of Volatiles with Cryofocusing

Date July 2017 Overview Researchers at Florida International University’s (FIU’s) International Forensic Research Institute evaluated the capability of capillary microextraction of volatiles (CMV) to extract the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that constitute organic gunshot residue (OGSR) on the hands of…

Evaluation of Existing Technologies for Novel Analysis and Probabilistic Interpretation of Organic Gunshot Residue

Date July 2017 Overview Firearms exposure has traditionally been monitored by screening for the presence of inorganic particles prevalent in gunshot residue (GSR). These inorganic compounds are associated with the primer in ammunition. Recent research efforts have explored alternative approaches…

Webinar: Automotive Paint Binders Using Infrared Spectroscopy

Overview This lecture describes the identification of automotive paint binders using infrared spectroscopy, with an emphasis on key absorptions to seek when examining such spectra. Infrared spectroscopy is one of the main tools used by the forensic paint examiner to…

2016 National Institute of Justice Forensic Science Research and Development Symposium

Date July 2016 Overview The 2016 NIJ Research and Development Symposium is intended to promote collaboration and enhance knowledge transfer of NIJ-funded research. The NIJ Research and Development (R&D) Program funds both basic or applied R&D projects that will (1)…

Conference Proceedings: 2015 Impression, Pattern, and Trace Evidence Symposium

Date December 2015 Overview 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…

Utilization of Organic Constituents into GSR Analysis

Overview Suzanne Bell of West Virginia University (WVU, Departments of Chemistry and Forensic Science) presents on the utilization of organic constituents into gunshot residue analysis. This innovative technology involves experimental and modeling studies used to elucidate characteristics of skin permeation…

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…

Basics of Microbiology as they Apply to Forensics

Overview Dr. Bruce Budowle, of the University of North Texas Health Science Center, and Dr. Dana Kadavy, Director of Biological Sciences at Signature Science, LLC, presented on microbiology, pathogens, human microbiome, and genetic engineering/synthetic biology. Participants will gain a better…

Organic GSR Analysis for Potential Shooter Determination

Date May 2015 Overview Through the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE), West Virginia University (WVU) evaluated emerging approaches for the detection of gunshot residue (GSR) based on organic materials in the residue. One instrument was…

R&D 2014 – Fundamental Forensic Science Research – Part I

Overview This archival portion of the 2014 R&D Seminar Series covers the following presentations: Review on some Fluid Dynamics Aspects of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis – Daniel Attinger From Basic Research to Routine Use in the Courtroom: Elemental Analysis and Comparisons…

A General Framework for the Estimation of Likelihood Ratios

Overview This talk provides a very general framework for the estimation of likelihood ratios using similarity or dissimilarity scores resulting from a comparison of two patterns that overcome this deficiency for suitably chosen similarity measures. In such instances, the likelihood…

2017 NIJ R&D Series Impression, Pattern, & Trace Evidence

Overview The NIJ Forensic Science Research and Development Symposium was a free and open meeting where attendees learned about NIJ-funded research across a variety of forensic science areas. Morning Session I – Impression, Pattern & Trace Evidence Speakers & Presentations…
burned house and sofa on fire

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

National Institute of Justice and University of Central Florida Date November 2016 Overview Determining the presence of ignitable liquid residue among the fire debris in an arson investigation is a complicated forensic problem. Most ignitable liquids commonly encountered consist of…
sam quinones headshot

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

National Institute of Justice and the National Museum of Health and Medicine Date April 2015 Overview Data on the microbiome of decomposing and skeletonized remains are providing an avenue for understanding how microbial communities may be used to augment medicolegal…
outline of man with skulls and blue lines

Success Story: Improving Identification of Mexican Hispanic Remains

National Institute of Justice and Texas State University Date April 2015 Overview In the United States, the Mexican Hispanic population ranks second in total size, yet Mexican Hispanic individuals often remain unidentified in forensic anthropological cases. The reason? There has…