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All workshops are being held on Tuesday, October 22nd. Workshops are filled on a first-come-first-served basis. A spot will be considered reserved once payment is received. Workshops are subject to cancellation. If you register for a full-day workshop, you cannot register for any of the half-day workshops and vice versa. 

All workshop attendees are required to register for Full Meeting Registration or for Tuesday's Daily Registration (at the least).

Full-Day Workshops 9 am - 5 pm

ASTEE Trace Evidence Workshop: Practical ID of Environmental Particles Similar to Gunshot Residue & Unusual Elemental Profiles
MassHunter Unknowns and Qualitative Workflows for Forensic Data Analysis

Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG) Workshop
Trace Evidence on Bullets


Cost for Full-Day Workshops
Member/Member of Another Regional Organization: $65 Non-Member: $110 Student Member: $43 Student Non-Member: $65

Half-Day Workshops 9 am - 12:30 pm

ASTEE Trace Evidence Workshop: Hair Root Staining: How Trace Evidence and DNA can Collaborate for Efficient Casework
The Basics of Agilent ChemStation Macros
Understanding FIGG: A deep dive into how FIGG works and how you can implement FIGG into your workflow


Half-Day Workshops 1:30 pm - 5 pm
ASTEE Trace Evidence Workshop: Elemental analysis of glass: comparing interpretation paradigms and practicing with likelihood ratios
The Fundamentals of Counting and Detecting DNA

Cost for Half-Day Workshops
Member/Member of Another Regional Organization: $33 Non-Member: $55 Student Member: $23 Student Non-Member: $33

There is NO CHARGE associated with the Educators' or Student Forums. However, if you are attending, you must register for the forum. The Student Forum is scheduled to run 6pm - 8:30pm and the Educators' Forum is scheduled to run 6pm - 8pm.

ASTEE Trace Evidence Workshop: Practical ID of Environmental Particles Similar to Gunshot Residue & Unusual Elemental Profiles
Mary Keehan and Nicole Palmer

The recognition and identification of environmental particles similar to gunshot residue (GSR) has long been the goal of every GSR examiner. In this workshop we will give a brief overview of GSR analysis and identification by SEM/EDS, an overview of environmental sources of particles similar to GSR and provide tools and practical exercises to assist GSR examiners in distinguishing environmental particles from gunshot residue. We will also go over various types of ammunition and the elemental profiles they produce, including some nontoxic or “green” ammunition, as well as, ammunition produced in Europe and Eastern bloc countries. The workshop will consist of short lecture portions followed by practical exercises involving data interpretation. The goal of the workshop is to provide both new and seasoned GSR examiners with practical tools to assist them in casework.

MassHunter Unknowns and Qualitative Workflows for Forensic Data Analysis
Kirk E. Lokits, Ph.D.
Agilent Technologies

The full day workshop is designed to introduce the audience to the workflows involved when using Unknowns Analysis in the MassHunter software. The workshop begins with an ~20-minute explanation of the deconvolution process, differences between deconvolution and peak integration, and some of the variables involved when using this powerful data analysis tool. Running through workflows, utilizing forensic data, the session will illustrate how to translate established workflows within MSD ChemStation Data Analysis to MassHunter Unknowns Analysis. The workshop will include how to generate an in-house library in Unknowns Analysis, how to link retention time and or retention indices to each library entry and apply these entries to increase your Library Match Score (LMS) confidence level. Examples of Unknowns Analysis reporting templates will be demonstrated from the workshop exercises. Qualitative Analysis software will also be introduced. Laptops with MassHunter software and forensic data will be provided through this full day of hands-on learning. 
 

The course is limited to the first 16 registrants due to the number of laptops available. However, additional students (~10) may join the course if they can provide their own laptop with MassHunter Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis software pre-loaded (rev 12.0 is preferred but not required) on the laptop. The forensic data files can be loaded in the morning prior to the start of the course. Please contact the course instructor at Kirk.Lokits@Agilent.com if you have additional questions.

Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG) Workshop
Professor David Gurney, JD/PhD and Cairenn Binder, MS
Ramapo College of New Jersey Investigative Genetic Genealogy Center

Investigative genetic genealogy (IGG) has recently emerged as a leading method for human identification in unidentified human remains cases as well as violent crimes. In this all-day workshop, students will be introduced to the investigative genetic genealogy from case selection through lead confirmation.

After attending this workshop, students will be able to:

  • Identify elements influencing the likelihood of success of investigative genetic genealogy including demographic factors, DNA quality/quantity, and other characteristics.

  • Understand the IGG laboratory process and compare and contrast public and private lab options for IGG.

  • Review mitochondrial, X-, and Y-DNA inheritance patterns.

  • Understand the IGG research process including identification and analysis of genetic matches, ascendancy research, identification of common ancestors, and descendancy research.

  • Perform documentation in IGG research including communication with partner agencies, progress reports, and final reports.

  • Articulate ethical and legal issues in IGG.


Case studies and active learning activities will be utilized to help attendees understand the IGG process and prepare to work their own IGG cases.

Trace Evidence on Bullets
Peter Diaczuk, Ph.D., John Jay College, Department of Sciences, NY

This workshop will cover some of the phenomena that must be taken into consideration when assessing a shooting scene. Several different types of ammunition will be discussed, along with their interactions with several different substrates commonly encountered. Attendees will also become familiar with evidence recognition, documentation, and recovery for laboratory analysis.

The complex nature of a shooting incident may generate a variety of firearm-related evidence, such as the firearm itself, cycled or discharged ammunition components, gunshot residue, trace evidence on a bullet, or impact sites with traces of the bullet’s prior presence. Whether considered firearm evidence or trace evidence, this information may have to be integrated by the scientist to be most beneficial.

When a shooting incident takes place and firearm evidence is recovered at the scene, whether in the form of cartridge cases or bullets, it is likely that an examination of these ammunition components will ensue, using the well-established and proven methods of comparison microscopy. Recently, use of comparison microscopy has become the focus of criticism, but it nevertheless provides valuable information for both opaque samples using reflected light and for transparent samples using transmitted light. There are some occasions, however, where the question of which firearm was involved, or which bullet came from what firearm is not in dispute; but instead, questions arise about the specific path of a bullet, the relative positions of the shooter and the victim, the presence of an intervening object, or the sequence of the shots that were fired.
Pulling the trigger of a firearm initiates a series of events that culminates with the discharge of a bullet with considerable energy, along with primer and propellant resides as secondary ejecta. The bullet may not only impact its intended target; it may perforate an intermediate object or objects on its way to the target or it may pass completely through the target and retain sufficient energy to continue downrange and impact an unintended object.

These types of interactions and impacts invariably impart information about the event onto the bullet and onto the impacted substrates. If information from the inadvertent or intended impact is recognized, examined, and deciphered, it can be helpful in developing a more accurate shooting scene reconstruction. This workshop will consider the transfer of material from the substrate to the bullet, per the Locard Exchange Principle, the overall change to both the bullet and substrate from the energy exchange, the potential path the bullet followed, and the possibility of ricochet.

Determining the angle at which a bullet will successfully ricochet is essential information when a shooting investigation involves indirect fire. This information provides the forensic scientist with fundamental data required for the scientific reconstruction and assessment of a shooting scene. Depending upon the substrate, the bullet’s design, velocity, construction, and its angle of impact, a bullet may fail to ricochet upon impact, or the bullet will successfully ricochet. Knowledge of bullet behavior with common substrates provides valuable information for scientific investigation of shooting scenes where bullets have impacted intermediate surfaces. A timely and accurate scene reconstruction is imperative in both the investigative and the adjudicative stages of a shooting incident.

ASTEE Trace Evidence Workshop: Hair Root Staining: How Trace Evidence and DNA can Collaborate for Efficient Casework

Lindsey Admire and  Evie Nguyen

North Carolina State Crime Laboratory

Hair evidence collected as part of a forensic investigation has the potential to provide valuable sourcing information through DNA analysis of its root. However, what can be done when traditional hair root suitability determinations for DNA analysis aren’t yielding results as expected? At the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory, hair examiners noticed in years prior to 2019 that hair roots being sent for DNA analysis were not yielding DNA profiles as expected.  To combat this problem, it was decided through research and community outreach that hair roots should be stained prior to sending them for in house DNA analysis for most efficient evidence processing.  At the NCSCL, hematoxylin was chosen as the preferred staining method.   

 

This workshop will discuss the process of utilizing Hematoxylin staining in forensic casework as an indicator of hair root DNA suitability. The instructors will walk participants through the entirety of the NCSCL’s journey with Hematoxylin staining – from the process of background research, to data-gathering, our in-house validation process, results since implementation into casework, to training new analysts in the staining procedure. The process of staining hair roots with Hematoxylin will be demonstrated, and visual examples of stained hair roots will be provided. Participants will also get the opportunity for hands-on root staining experience as well as live “nuclei counting” practice with the instructors as we discuss the different staining categories we set for our laboratory’s validation purposes. We also plan to discuss any root staining anomalies that may arise through true casework samples. This workshop will highlight the benefits of implementation of hair root staining into casework in terms of increased DNA yields, improved casework efficiency, and preservation of non-viable hair root evidence. 

 

Our aim is to be as transparent about our experience as possible to allow you to decide how hair root staining may best fit your laboratory’s goals – whether your laboratory is DNA only or functions as the NCSCL with collaborative Trace and DNA sections. Please come prepared to discuss your laboratory’s current approach to DNA analysis of hair roots, as well as any hair root staining procedures you may already be utilizing. We hope to run this workshop more as a breakout session, with informal discussion encouraged so that we may all learn together.

The Basics of Agilent ChemStation Macros
Eugene Zegocki, Monroe County Crime Lab

Agilent GC/MS instruments are the core instrumentation for the majority of laboratories performing fire debris and controlled substances analyses. Many analysts use the simple and reliable Agilent ChemStation software for data analysis. Agilent’s newer software, MassHunter instrument control, uses ChemStation macros as well.

Macros are blocks of code that make ChemStation software work. Therefore, even basic knowledge about ChemStation macros is beneficial. It allows one to customize existing macros, design and modify reports, automate tasks, and search for data, ultimately saving time and reducing manual repetitive routine tasks. 

The workshop covers the following topics:

  • General ChemStation software info

  • ChemStation variables

  • ChemStation commands and functions

  • Control statements

  • Working with files

  • Working with windows

  • Printing

  • Integration and library searches

  • Some other often used commands

  • Explanation of two commonly used macros

It is expected that as a result of the workshop attendees will understand the basics of Agilent ChemStation software programming. 

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own laptop with installed Agilent ChemStation, however, this is not required.

Understanding FIGG: A deep dive into how FIGG works and how you can implement FIGG into your workflow
Jade Gibbons, PhD and Amber McManus, MS
QIAGEN

Over the past few years, advancements in Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy (FIGG) have made headlines with successes associated with cases where traditional STR workflows have provided little insight. Examples are instances where perpetrators are not entered into the CODIS database system and missing persons cases. In the majority of those cases, GEDmatch and its law enforcement-only side GEDmatch Pro are often used as the database for FIGG kinship analysis. The parent company of GEDmatch and GEDmatch Pro, QIAGEN, would like to invite you to a workshop in order to answer your questions and leave you with a better understanding of the mechanisms by which long-range FIGG kinship analysis is done in our databases. This workshop will include everything from the basics of how FIGG profiles are generated, to more advanced topics such as how kinship analysis is calculated. At the end of this workshop you should not only have a better understanding of how current FIGG workflows operate, but also the ease in which it could be implemented in your laboratory.

ASTEE Trace Evidence Workshop: Elemental analysis of glass: comparing interpretation paradigms and practicing with likelihood ratios
Shirly Montero
Arizona State University

The use of glass microtraces as forensic evidence is a recognized practice in forensic casework. During this workshop, we will briefly review the chemical and optical properties traditionally used for sourcing glass, the methods available for their analysis, and the paradigms used in interpreting those features. We will also review the use of likelihood ratios for interpretations at activity level and exemplify the value of microtraces for this level of interpretation during forensic investigations. There will be space to share and discuss your extraordinary encounters with glass evidence.

The goal of this workshop is to provide you with hands on experience on the interpretation of glass evidence, particularly the use of likelihood ratios for the interpretation of elemental profiles of glass. Bringing a laptop for the complete experience is strongly recommended but you are encouraged to participate even without one.  

The Fundamentals of Counting and Detecting DNA
Catherine Grgicak, Ph.D.
Rutgers University Camden

A forensic genetics laboratory can be described as carrying two broad scientific responsibilities [1]: To produce genetic data able to maximally discriminate forensically relevant hypotheses; and to report the value of them. The branch of forensic science dedicated to improving the quantity of genetic information has supported advances in mega-plex panels that simultaneously target more than 20 forensically relevant markers, the emergence of NGS in forensics, and the development of novel collection devices that recover more biological material from a substrate. With these practical advances also came improvements to the way in which data were interpreted and included the adoption of Bayesian reasoning by forensic scientists, articulation of a hierarchy of propositions, and the implementation of probabilistic genotyping. 


With the interpretive framework being mostly constructed, attention is being paid to efforts seeking to appraise the consistency of evaluations within and across forensic science service providers (FSSPs), as was done in [2, 3]. The findings show that, in the main, mixture interpretation is subject to sometimes impactful effects originating from service provider’s policy decisions on matters pertaining to NoC and suitability [3] or the laboratory treatments and settings used to generate the data [4]. 
 

What makes forensic DNA data diverge can, arguably, be traced back to the laboratory processes used to generate it. Here, the DNA molecules carrying allele information at targeted genetic locations are extracted while cells from, potentially, a high number of donors are still mixed. What generally follows is the fractionation of the extract into at least two portions: one that is stored and one that is amplified. Being that the number of copies of a given allele within a volume fraction varies, the extract fraction carried to PCR conveys an unknown and variable number of DNA molecules of given allele type. The DNA molecules that are amplified and tagged with fluorophores are then detected. The result is a fluorescence signature that is a superposition of allele and artifact signal from numerous donors whose signal may not be fully represented and can be further obfuscated by noise. Application of signal thresholds can serve to exacerbate these divergences. 


If generating as much useful information is as valued as making the best interpretive use of that data, the question then becomes: Is it possible to uncover what laboratory treatments give maximal amounts of relevant information for a given technology? If so, can the level of useful information across laboratories be similar despite differences in platforms and assays? In this workshop we attend to these questions. 
 

The workshop is structured as follows: To begin, we review counting techniques, relevant definitions, and known distributions like the binomial distribution. Then we apply the concepts to predict the number of amplified DNA molecules of a given type. Next, we convert these numbers to a fluorescence, finally producing a distribution of peak heights for different extract fractions carrying an unknown number of target DNA molecules. We explore these distributions to examine if it is possible to uncover data generating procedures from which we receive maximal levels of genetic information across the broadest number of donors for a single amplification, regardless of platform or assay. Lastly, the group will explore the implications of the findings and discuss their impacts in light of the recent report in Forensic DNA Interpretation and Human Factors [5].


References

[1] W. Goodwin, A. Linacre, and S. Hadi, An Introduction to Forensic Genetics, 2nd ed. Wiley, 2010.

[2] L. M. Brinkac, N. Richetelli, J. M. Davoren, R. A. Bever, and R. A. Hicklin, "DNAmix 2021: Laboratory policies, procedures, and casework scenarios summary and dataset,"

Data in Brief, vol. 48, p. 109150, 2023/06/01/ 2023, doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2023.109150.

[3] R. A. Hicklin, N. Richetelli, B. L. Emerick, R. A. Bever, and J. M. Davoren, "Variation in assessments of suitability and number of contributors for DNA mixtures," Forensic Science International: Genetics, vol. 65, 2023, doi: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2023.102892.

[4] K. C. Peters, H. Swaminathan, J. Sheehan, K. R. Duffy, D. S. Lun, and C. M. Grgicak, "Production of high-fidelity electropherograms results in improved and consistent DNA interpretation: Standardizing the forensic validation process," Forensic Science International: Genetics, vol. 31, pp. 160-170, 2017, doi: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2017.09.005.

[5] Expert Working Group in Forensic DNA Interpretation, "Forensic DNA Interpretation and Human Factors: Improving Practice Through a Systems Approach," in "Human Factors in Forensic Sciences Expert Working Group Series," National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2024.

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