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NIST is closely monitoring guidance from Federal, State, and local health authorities on the outbreak of COVID-19. To protect the health and safety of NIST employees and the American public they continue to serve, NIST has decided to make the Forensics@ NIST 2020 virtual only. 
For more information on COVID-19, please visit:

Join us virtually on Thursday November 5th and Friday November 6th, 2020 to learn how NIST scientists are using advanced methods in metrology, computer science and statistics to strengthen forensic science.

Topic Areas to be covered:

  • Drugs/Toxins
  • Statistical Methods in Forensic Science
  • Firearms and Tool Marks
  • Forensic Genetics
  • Trace    
  • Digital and Multimedia 

Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions during a virtual Q&A.

Optional Workshops: November 09-10, 2020

**Please note each workshop is limited to 125 attendees. Registrations will be approved on a first-come, first-serve basis. Attendees must register to attend the main session on November 05-06th in order to register for a workshop**

Workshop 1: Applications, Considerations, and Strategies for Implementation of DART-MS in Forensic Laboratories

Date: November 09, 2020

Times: 10:00AM - 3:10PM ET

Hosts: Edward Sisco, Elizabeth L. Robinson, Luther Schaeffer (NIJ-OIFS)

Agenda (PDF)

Description: As analytical instrumentation advances, forensic laboratories are constantly looking to implement new techniques that can provide faster, more sensitive, and more information-rich analyses.  However, when laboratories decide to move forward with implementation of these techniques it can be difficult to rapidly and fully integrate them into casework due to a lack of training, funding, and time.  This can lead to the procurement of a technique that is either underutilized or not utilized.  

One emerging technology that has begun to gain acceptance within the community and is being employed throughout the country is direct analysis in real time mass spectrometry (DART-MS).  DART-MS is one of many ambient ionization mass spectrometry (AI-MS) tools that allow for the near-instantaneous analysis of a range of samples with little-to-no sample preparation.  It has been applied to forensic samples ranging from drugs and explosives to lubricants and inks, with more applications actively being researched. 

This workshop aims to provide forensic practitioners, laboratory managers, and legal personnel with the information to understand what DART-MS is, identify whether it would be beneficial for their laboratories, and learn about how other laboratories are utilizing the technique.  Topics that will be covered in the workshop include:

  • Fundamentals of DART-MS
  • Current applications in forensic laboratories with a focus on drug analysis
  • Strategies for validation of the technology
  • Practical and legal considerations for implementation
  • Novel sampling protocols and casework approaches.


Workshop 2: DNA Workshop

Date: November 09, 2020

Times: TBD

Host: Peter Vallone 

Description: The NIST 2020 Forensic Genetics Workshop focuses on a series of 30 minute seminars given by members of the NIST Applied Genetics group that relate to the field of forensic DNA typing. Topics to be covered include: the use of NIST Standard Reference Materials, updates to, DNA extraction and quantitation, DNA mixture interpretation and next generation sequencing.  The workshop will include a round table discussion for the presenters to answer questions and exchange ideas with the audience.


Workshop 3: NIST 2020 Forensic Cannabis Workshop

Date: November 10, 2020

Times: TBD

Host: Walter Brent Wilson and Melissa M. Phillips

Description: NIST is developing an integrated measurement services program for Cannabis to ensure the quality of routine analysis in forensic laboratories, third party testing companies, and throughout the Cannabis industry. The tools developed by NIST will ensure the quality assurance of routine analysis for confiscated Cannabis (hemp and marijuana) samples and confirm the confidence in sample type differentiation. This program will include the development of fit-for-purpose analytical methodologies, standard operating procedures, administration of a series of interlaboratory studies for direct stakeholder engagement, and development of Reference Materials (RMs) for routine analysis in forensic laboratories. This workshop will include presentations from NIST researchers and outside collaborators from County and State laboratories in the United States. NIST presenters will provide an overview of the newly developed sample preparation protocols, qualitative colorimetric test, quantitative analytical methods (i.e. LC-UV, LC-MS/MS, GC-MS, and portable IR detectors), interlaboratory study results, and updates on a Cannabis RMs. NIST collaborators will present on their in-house Cannabis protocols, analytical methods, validation schemes, and involvements with NIST through interlaboratory studies. The workshop will include a round table discussion for the presenters to answer questions and exchange ideas with the audience.


Agenda (PDF)


Day 1: November 05, 2020

8:00 - 8:10  Introduction Shyam Sunder
8:10 - 8:20  Forensics Overview  Robert Ramotowski 
8:20 - 9:30  Statistics 
8:20 - 8:40 Statistical Models for Similarity Score Comparisons in Firearm Evidence Identifications Nien-Fan Zhang
8:45 - 9:05 The NIST Footwear Impression Comparison System Steven Lund
9:10 - 9:30 A New Statistical Procedure to Assess Calibration Accuracy of Likelihood Ratio Systems Hari Iyer
9:30 - 9:45  Statistics Q&A
9:45 - 10:00 BREAK
10:00 -11:10 C-Safe Overview  
10:00 - 10:15 CSAFE Research Update Alicia Carriquiry
10:15 - 10:30 CSAFE Footwear Impression Analysis Charless Fowlkes
10:30 - 10:45 CSAFE Firearms and Toolmarks Heike Hofmann
10:45 - 11:00 CSAFE Implementation and Practice  Brandon Garrett
11:00 - 11:10 Closing Alicia Carriquiry
11:10 - 11:25 C-Safe Q&A
11:25 - 12:30 LUNCH BREAK
12:30 – 2:15 Forensic Genetics
12:30-1:20  Research Programs and Standards Production Peter Vallone
1:20-2:15  Next Generation Sequencing for Forensic Genetics Katherine Gettings
2:15 – 2:30 Forensics Q&A
2:30 – 2:45  BREAK
2:45 – 4:30 Firearms and Associated Toolmarks 
2:45 – 3:05 Firearms and Toolmarks Overview  Johannes Soons
3:05 – 3:30 A Metrology Foundation for Firearm and Toolmark Examination Michael Stocker
3:30 – 3:55           Reference Population Database of Firearm Toolmarks (RPDFT) Alan Zheng
3:55 – 4:30           Digital Preservation of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Ballistic Artifacts  Robert Thompson and T. Brian Renegar
4:30 – 4:45 Firearms Q&A  
4:45 – 5:00  Day 1 Wrap-Up


Day 2: November 06, 2020

8:00 - 8:15  Welcome & Recap of Previous Day  Robert Ramotowski
8:15 – 10:00 Digital and Identification Evidence 
8:15 - 8:30 Overview of the NIST Digital Evidence Program  Barbara Guttman
8:30 - 8:50 How Do I Make the NSRL Hashes fit My Needs?  Doug White
8:50 - 9:10 CFTT & String Searching  Jim Lyle
9:10 - 9:30 What’s New About CFTT & Mobile?  SQLite, SQLite Recovery and a new Federated Testing Tool  Jenise Reyes Rodriguez
9:30 - 9:50 A new CFReDS:  Sharing DE Datasets  Rick Ayers and Mehdi Shahid
9:50 - 10:00 NIST Black Box Study of DE Tools – What have we learned so far? Barbara Guttman
10:00 - 10:15  Live Q&A Digital and Identification Evidence 
10:15 - 10:30 BREAK
10:30 - 12:15 Trace
10:30 - 10:45 Development of a more comprehensive and extensible hair peptide spectral library Zheng "Jane" Zhang and Meghan Burke
10:45 - 11:00 Advances in Dynamic Vapor Sampling Towards Reliable Field Deployment Megan Harries
11:00 - 11:15 Bulk and Micro-Scale Trace Element Analysis of Glass SRMs Using Modern Nuclear Analytical Methods and LA-ICP-MS Nick Sharp
11:15 - 11:30 An Interlaboratory Study Evaluating the Interpretation of Forensic Glass Evidence Using Refractive Index Measurements and Elemental Composition Ruthie Corzo 
11:30 - 11:45 A Standard Methodology for the Analysis of Paint by FTIR  Stephanie Watson 
11:45 - 12:00 Hybrid Thermal Desorption -Ambient MS developments for the trace detection of explosives  Thomas Forbes 
12:00 - 12:15 An objective, quantitative, statistically defensible scheme based on fitted intensity ratios for GSR analysis.  Nicholas Ritchie 
12:15 - 12:30 Live Q&A Trace
12:30 - 1:30 LUNCH BREAK
1:30 - 3:15  Drugs & Toxins
1:30 - 1:50 Using Visualization Tools to Understand Drug Evidence Handling Processes Matthew Staymates
1:50 - 2:15 Development of Novel Workflows for Drug Chemistry Edward Sisco
2:15 - 2:35 Software Tools for DART-MS and GC-MS Data Arun Moorthy
2:35 - 2:55 Benchtop NMR and Raman Analysis for Seized Drug Analysis Aaron Urbas
2:55 - 3:15 An Overview of the Hemp Measurement Service Program Melissa Phillips & Brent Wilson
3:15 - 3:30 Live Q&A Drugs & Toxins
3:30 - 4:00 Biometrics Human Examiner Overview  Jonathon Phillips 
4:00 - 4:15 Final Wrap-Up TBD


Created January 23, 2020, Updated September 28, 2020