Thursday, February 21, 2008

AAFS - Poster Sessions

by blogger jgl

Wha happened??? Didn't the poster sessions used to go from 11-3? And by 1 o'clock all the presenters were exhausted and left?

Well, this year they shortened it. 11:30 - 1pm. That's it! Luckily some of the presenters didn't pack up at 1 and stuck around for a while.

Some interesting stuff. I liked the one using Repairosome... no wait, that's Restorase DNA Polymerase (Sigma-Aldrich)... to repair damaged DNA.

There were lots of odor detection posters. Hmm....

AAFS Vendors!

by blogger jgl

Like any convention, there are always vendors around demonstrating their latest products. At AAFS, there's always something interesting... until this year. Nothing very exciting, although I suppose it all depends on your specialty. In the DNA world, nothing really grabbed me. Applied Biosystems big thing was Quantifiler Duo which combines two old kits into one new kit... wow! (i'm sure it is a little more advanced than that, but still). Qiagen seemed to be more robot heavy than in years past. Maybe the most exciting thing I saw were microfuge tubes that opened from the back. Wait 'til Grandma hears about this!

No bikini models at the convention (yet), but the displays are getting more elaborate. The award for most HDTVs used goes to Promega...

Most elaborate display (most floor space)? QIAGEN!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More on Keynote Session

by blogger jgl

Following Sen. Biden was the US Senate Sgt. at Arms Terrance Gainer. He was a lively fellow, even volunteering to entertain the crowd during some technical difficulties. Sgt. at Arms Gainer is an experienced law man; it was interesting to hear his take on what was currently important in forensic science.

He began by talking about low copy number (or touch) DNA analysis. He was very impressed with the potential for recovering DNA from triggers, steering wheels, etc. I'm still wondering how well this works in the real world. It looks like most researchers get mixed results.

He also mentioned the DNA initiative and the DNA backlog that needs to be resolved.

He mentioned the need for proper training of law enforcement personnel, especially in rural areas. This was good to hear since communication between the evidence collectors and lab scientists is needed in the field. It's probably a surprise to much of the outside world that it is not one person taking samples from the cradle to the grave (like on CSI). As a lab scientist, I know very little about the training and thought processes of officers in the field and I'm sure the officers have a limited knowledge of the scientists as well.

Mr. Gainer also touched on some new methods, like familial searches, and it was good to hear the necessary caution against rights to privacy of citizens.

He capped it off by repeating Sen. Biden's comment that it is now time to expand funding of forensics beyond DNA to other areas of the lab (applause).

AAFS Annual Meeting

by blogger jgl

Although the annual American Academy of FOrensic Sciences conference has had various meetings/workshops going on since saturday, today is the day the vendors roll in and scientific poster sessions begin.

The day kicked off with the Keynote Session at 9am. First up, a video pep talk from Sen. Joe Biden.

Although overall the talk was a typical pat on the back, the high-ranking Senator did have some interesting things to say. He specifically mentioned the CSI effect, sympathizing with the often unreasonable expectations forensic scientists must face. He mentioned the DNA initiative (didn't it used to be the "President's" DNA Initiative?). He also started a trend of specifically stating that although past funding for DNA has been great, it is now time to expand that funding to other non-DNA areas of forensic science. He also specifically mentioned the accreditation of forensic science programs, perhaps indicating that some forensic science programs need to tweak their goals. FInally, he recognized the fact that forensic science continues to grow (need for continued funding).

more news and corrected pics to come...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Amelia Earhart Search - Close?

by blogger jgl

I recently received an email from David Billings. He believes his group has a good chance of recovering the remains of Amelia Earhart( His website does a good job of explaining his reasoning and back story. As with most research, he is short on funding. Also, once his group relocates the aircraft that may be Earhart's, they will likely need the help of an anthropologist to help recover the remains. If you, or any anthropologist you know might be interesting in donating your services, i'd encourage you to contact David. Below is an excerpt from his email.

We are pretty sure from the evidence that we have that we are after the Electra which should contain the remains of Earhart and Noonan.

It looks very promising right now as of today that shortly we will obtain the funding required to have another crack at finding this aircraft which was seen in 1945 by Australian Soldiers on New Britain Island. Even if we do not recieve funding for a Magnetometer Survey we will be going in again for a ground search in mid-year...

...I will require forensic assistance to a high standard and on a voluntary basis and possibly self-funded. In saying this, I realise that after the find there will be enough funding sent my way to cater for this, but at the moment self-funding has to be said...