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Short Communications - Forensic Science Communications - January 2007

Short Communications - Forensic Science Communications - January 2007


January 2007 - Volume 9 - Number 1

Short Communication

Trace Evidence Symposium

Sandra Koch
Forensic Examiner
Trace Evidence Unit
FBI Laboratory
Quantico, Virginia

The nature of trace, or “transfer,” evidence is highly variable, and trace evidence can be found at nearly every crime scene. Although trace evidence is often present, its collection, preservation, analysis, and eventual use in court have declined in recent years. Identifying the origin of foreign material found at a crime scene can be powerful evidence; yet in recent years, this type of evidence has been underutilized in the United States and has led some laboratories to reduce their capability to analyze such evidence. The FBI Laboratory and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) recognize the important impact that trace evidence has on criminal investigations and, ultimately, on our system of justice.

It has been more than 10 years since the trace evidence community has had a symposium dedicated specifically to our discipline and open to the entire forensic community, both domestic and international. Accordingly, the FBI Laboratory and the National Institute of Justice are pleased to announce that a Trace Evidence Symposium will be held August 13–16, 2007, in Clearwater Beach, Florida. The purpose of the symposium is to foster increased awareness among forensic scientists, law enforcement, and the legal communities of the value of trace evidence. It will serve as an educational forum for trace evidence examiners and managers and as a forum to identify new areas of research and technological needs within the various subdisciplines of trace evidence.

Trace evidence is considered one of the most diverse of the forensic disciplines because it can include the analysis of hair, fiber, paint, glass, soil, and other particulate matter. In fact, some jurisdictions also include in their trace units the analysis of botanical material, arson/fire debris, explosives, and/or impression evidence. A trace evidence examiner is frequently involved in the analysis of a wide variety of evidence and, accordingly, is usually proficient in microscopy, spectroscopy, photography, and other analytical instrumentation.

Because of the diverse nature of trace evidence, the Trace Evidence Symposium will represent a broad range of issues, from technological foundations and research methods to applied practices and policy considerations that impact the field of trace evidence analysis. Papers presented at the symposium may include such topics as unique applications of trace evidence, research findings/results, method validation, interpretation, case studies, bench tips, and legal and/or policy implications. Workshops will also be available for continuing education on more in-depth analysis and interpretation of evidence and the use of nonroutine techniques, as well as some specifically geared for new trace evidence examiners.

Abstracts for papers for presentation at the symposium are being accepted until February 9, 2007, through the Trace Evidence Symposium website established by NIJ. All papers that meet the submission criteria will undergo a peer-review and selection process. The authors of a select number of papers will be invited to present their material orally in the context of the appropriate plenary or concurrent session, and the remaining selected papers will be presented as posters. Accepted abstracts will be included in the symposium program; full-paper submissions must be submitted 45 days prior to the conference and will be published with the proceedings after the symposium. If an abstract is accepted for presentation at the symposium, all expenses for one presenter will be paid, regardless of the number of authors contributing to a paper. For full details on abstract submission requirements and further details on the Trace Evidence Symposium, refer to the NIJ website.