2023 NIJ Forensic Science R&D Webinar Series

2023 NIJ Forensic Science R&D Webinar Series


In this webinar series, the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE) proudly collaborates with forensic science researchers whose projects receive support from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) research grant program. Presenters will highlight advancements in the forensic community by sharing progress in their respective disciplines and offering insight into their own projects. This series aims to introduce the broader forensic community to ongoing or recently completed research spanning various domains, including crime scene investigation, laboratory processes, database advancements, and novel techniques across disciplines. 


Body Fluid Identification and Classification 
This webinar occurred on November 9, 2023
Presenters: Dr. Sarah Seashols-Williams & Samriddha Dutta

In the first installment of the R&D Webinar Series, Sarah Seashols-Williams, Ph.D., from Virginia Commonwealth University, will demonstrate the ability to classify body fluids using miRNA expression from DNA extracts with 92% accuracy, eliminating the need for RNA extraction, greatly reducing evidentiary sample consumption and processing time in forensic laboratories. 

Additionally, Samriddha Dutta from the University of California, Riverside, will present her work on developing a chemiresistive nanobiosensor array with single-walled carbon nanotubes on paper, enabling on-site identification of body fluids (blood, semen, saliva, urine, sweat) via protein biomarkers. This innovative system, with its high sensitivity and minimal sample requirements, holds significant promise for advancing forensic science and investigations.  

Advances in Chemical Sorting of Commingled Remains
Thursday, November 30, 2023 | 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Presenter: Kristen Livingston

Forensic anthropologists face the challenge of sorting remains from commingled assemblages. This webinar examines how chemical signatures of bone can complement physical reassociation strategies. Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) offers rapid, visually non-destructive analysis that acquires chemical information from bone. Statistical evaluation of chemical profiles taken across 1284 bones from 45 individuals reveals that physicochemical variation exists between individuals and, consequently, can be used to classify the bones. This NIJ-funded research study highlights the efficiency of LIBS-based chemical analysis in expediting the reassociation of commingled remains and its potential for advancing forensic techniques. 

Improving Methods Using Machine Learning and Databases in Forensic Anthropology
Tuesday, December 5, 2023 | 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Presenters: Dr. Katherine Weisensee & Dr. Angela L. Harden 

Part I: GeoFOR is a free web-based collaborative forensic taphonomic application and database that utilizes geospatial technology and machine learning to deliver data-driven postmortem interval estimations to better facilitate identification and reconstruct events around the time of death. This presentation describes the geoFOR application and its potential for advancing the field of forensic science.  

Part II: The Forensic Anthropology Skeletal Trauma (FAST) database is a publicly available resource, which provides trauma analysis data for education, training, and case comparison applications. This presentation provides an introduction and overview of the FAST database. 

Validation of a Confirmatory Proteomic Mass Spectrometry Body Fluid Assay
Thursday, December 7, 2023 | 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Presenter: Dr. Donald Siegel

While forensic DNA analysis can identify an individual(s) at a crime scene, it cannot identify the biological source from which that DNA was obtained – e.g. blood, saliva, or semen. Identification of the biological source of DNA can provide important contextual information for forensic investigations as well as evidence in court. Nearly all current methods used for body fluid identification are presumptive. Here we present a new proteomic mass spectrometry method for the confirmatory identification of blood, saliva, and semen. 

Related Resources

Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence webinar series has been provided by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this webinar series are those of the presenter(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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