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Forensics at NIST 2020
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 on Thursday, November 5, 2020, when you will have the opportunity to visit the NIST campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland, meet our scientists and learn how they are using advanced methods in metrology, computer science and statistics to strengthen forensic science.


This year, Forensics @ NIST will be a one-day event. The morning session will cover topics of broad interest, including statistical methods in forensic science, and will be webcast. The afternoon will be dedicated to breakout sessions covering specific topics and will not be webcast. We hope that this new, more focused format will allow participants to get the most out of their visit to NIST.

To participate in the breakout sessions, you must attend in-person. When registering for the conference, please select ONE breakout session to attend.

Breakout Topic Areas:

  • Drugs/Toxins
  • Firearms and Tool Marks
  • Forensic Genetics
  • Trace    
  • Digital and Multimedia 

WORKSHOPS  on November 6th:

Optional hands on workshops will be offered Friday November 6th. If you plan to attend, please ensure you have registered for both the conference on Thursday and your workshop selection on Friday. Additional workshops are TBD and will be announced soon!

Title: NIST 2020 Forensic Cannabis Workshop

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.

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

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

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.

Participants will also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with the DART-MS system and the corresponding software.  Presenters include researchers from NIST and NIJ, chemists from state and federal laboratories who are active users of the technology, and instrument manufacturers.

Workshop Agenda: Combination lecture, panel, and hands-on.

For more information, please visit


Draft Agenda:

Morning 9:00 am – 12:30 pm in the Green Auditorium

9:00 am - 9:30 am – Introduction / Welcome Remarks / Forensics Overview

9:30 am – 10:00 am– Plenary

10:00 am  – 10:45 am - C-Safe 5 year Overview

10:45 am - 11:00 am BREAK

11:00 am– 12:15 pm Statistics Presentation

12:15 pm - 12:30 pm Statistics Q&A

BREAK FOR LUNCH 12:30 pm – 1:30 p m

AFTERNOON 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm

  • Green Auditorium: DNA
  • Portrait: Firearms
  • Lecture Room A : DE/Identification
  • Lecture Room B: Trace
  • Lecture Room D: Toxins
Created January 23, 2020, Updated June 8, 2020