Category Archives: Laboratory

Crime scenes, field forensics, tools and training

Come see us at the IACP Conference in Chicago!

Stop by the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) booth (#2131) at the IACP exhibit hall:

  • Check out crime scene scenario and virtual reality crime scene training
  • Get the latest on digital evidence training
  • Learn about the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (
  • Get an inside look at body armor
  • Register to win an iPad from NFSTC!

NFSTC and colleagues from around the forensic science community look forward to sharing the latest ways to help your agency gain expertise and stretch your training dollars during these tight budget times. We’ll see you in Chicago!

Twitter: @nfstc

GSA Contract Holder: GS-02F-0081U

What’s the smartest DNA decontamination solution? New study puts them to the test.

The findings of a comparison study conducted at NFSTC’s laboratory have just been released. The DNA decontamination study compares the industry mainstay, 10% bleach solution, to two specialized decontaminants, STERIPLEX SD and Pure Blu. The findings have been compiled into a technology evaluation report. (Note: This report was revised on Oct. 13 to correct information sent from one of the manufacturers; if you downloaded the earlier version, please download this updated report.)

It is imperative for laboratories to decontaminate equipment and surfaces to avoid cross-contamination when working with DNA. Typically laboratories use 10% bleach solution to clean and decontaminate, but bleach comes with a host of drawbacks: It’s caustic and corrosive, and it loses effectiveness after 24 hours, so fresh batches have to be mixed every day. The specialized alternatives last longer, but how well do they decontaminate? Are they safer? And are they worth the extra money?

To download other reports, visit NFSTC’s Technology Evaluations main page, or jump directly to the Biology & DNA, Chemistry and Crime Scene Investigation pages.

Mixture Interpretation Workshop videos now available online

Instructor lecturing at the DNA Mixture Interpretation Workshop

The workshop everyone’s talking about, the DNA Mixture Interpretation Workshop presented in March 2011, is now available for general viewing online.

This workshop convened internationally renowned experts for three days of in-depth training covering the new SWGDAM Guidelines, modified sensitivity procedures and other must-have knowledge. If you missed it, don’t worry. You can view it in its entirety online for free! And best of all, this workshop fulfills an analyst’s eight-hour continuing education requirement.

“Excellent … extremely beneficial. I have been able to clarify mixture interpretation at our lab.” – Margaret Sanger, Kentucky State Police Forensic Lab

“One of the most useful training events I have attended.” – Steve LaBonne, Lake County (OH) Crime Lab

Fantastic workshop, very informative and a great lineup of instructors and presenters.” – Claire Guidry, Acadiana (LA) Criminalistics Laboratory


  • The evolution of  DNA mixture interpretation
  • SWGDAM Guidelines, past and current
  • The design and execution of validation studies for establishing DNA mixture interpretation procedures
  • How modified procedures used to increase the sensitivity of DNA analyses impact DNA mixture interpretation procedures
  • Reporting of DNA mixtures and CODIS entry
  • Overview of statistical applications for DNA mixture interpretation
  • Practical exercises
  • Data analysis
  • Final Panel discussion

Watch and learn:

Experience level recommended: DNA Analysts/Technical Leaders

Sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, Award # 2008-DN-BX-K073

Web-based Workshop Registration: Rapid Biological Screening & Analysis

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), through the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC), is offering a Technology Transition Workshop on Rapid Biological Screening & Analysis Methodologies for Improving Throughput. This free workshop, which will be held daily from 1-3:15 PM (Eastern) on October 24-26, 2011, will be available via Internet WebEx-based broadcast sessions on a secure website.

This workshop format will enable attendees to participate from their home laboratory. All selected attendees will be required to review introductory microfluidic lectures and to read selected journal articles prior to the first WebEx installment of this workshop on October 24, 2011. Each day of the workshop, a live question-and-answer period with the session’s instructor or instructors will be held in real time immediately following broadcast of the pre-recorded lecture(s)/instrument demonstration.

To Apply:

Register online at
Invitation Code (case sensitive):
Application deadline:  Friday, September 2, 2011
Cost:  This workshop is offered by NFSTC, and there is no cost to local and state participants or their agencies.
Eligible Participants: This workshop is open to forensic biologists affiliated with state or locally funded crime laboratories.

Applicants will be notified regarding selection status by Friday, September 16, 2011.

The instructors for this workshop will be:

  • Dr. Christopher T. Culbertson (Kansas State University)
  • Dr. Eugene Tan (NetBio)
  • Dr. Jack Ballantyne (University of Central Florida)
  • Mr. Micah Halpern (GenSol Diagnostics)
  • Dr. Eric Buel (formerly from the State of Vermont Forensic Laboratory).

The purpose of this workshop is to provide forensic biology professionals with information regarding various NIJ-funded research projects that have the capability to increase the throughput of biological samples in one of two ways: through a screening process that serves to enable selection of critical samples requiring a more complete analysis either at the scene or in the laboratory, or via a fully integrated rapid DNA analysis platform system.

Lectures include:

  • Microfluidics: Introduction and Overview
  • Integrated Microfluidic Devices for Forensic Analysis
  • The Field-deployable Accelerated Nuclear DNA Equipment (ANDE) Program: Rapid, Fully-integrated Human Forensic Identification (an instrument demonstration will also be included)
  • Time Since Deposition (TSD) of Dried Bloodstains Using UV-VIS Spectrometric Analysis of Hemoglobin
  • ID of Fetal Blood Using Developmentally Regulated Gamma Hemoglobin mRNA Isoforms
  • Rapid Melt-Based STR Prescreening of Forensic Samples at the Crime Scene
  • A Real-Time Multiplex SNP Melting Assay to Discriminate Individuals

For more information, please refer to the workshop curriculum:

  Rapid Biological Screening and Analysys Methodologies TTW curriculum

If you have any questions or difficulty registering online, contact Jennie Travers at

Live streaming begins Tuesday for Trace Evidence Symposium

The Trace Evidence Symposium is underway in Kansas City, Missouri.  Want to see how it’s going but can’t jump on a plane?  Major portions of this event will be available at no charge via online streaming; no registration is required.  Streaming sessions and breakouts can be viewed here beginning at 1:00 p.m. (CDT) on Tuesday, August 9 and run through Thursday, August 11.  This site also contains the agenda and other event information.

The symposium, Science, Significance, and Impact, is co-sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Laboratory Division.  The symposium is specifically designed to bring together practitioners and researchers to enhance information-sharing and promote collaboration among the trace evidence, law enforcement, and legal communities.  Many of the unique educational sessions will be included in the web event.