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Crime and Science Radio: Research, Education, and the Future of Forensic Science: an Interview with Dr. Katherine A. Roberts, Director of the CSULA Graduate Program in Criminalistics

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Research, Education, and the Future of Forensic Science: an Interview with Dr. Katherine A. Roberts, Director of the CSULA Graduate Program in Criminalistics

 

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BIO: Dr. Roberts is the Director of the California State University, Los Angeles Graduate Program in Criminalistics. She has served as the Director of the Master of Science degree program there since 2002,and played a leading role in the university’s FEPAC accreditation. Her research interests cover a wide array of forensic disciplines, but focus primarily of trace evidence analysis, sexual assault evidence, and mitochondrial DNA analysis. Dr. Roberts was the PI of a National Institute of Justice-funded study to investigate the use of samplematrix™ to stabilize crime scene biological samples for optimized analysis and room temperature storage from 2009-2011. She is the PI for a National Science Foundation grant that was awarded to CSULA in 2015 to establish the Center for Interdisciplinary Forensic Science Research as a research site within the NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) program. The Center will enhance research training and education in multiple forensic science disciplines, including Forensic Microscopy, Trace Evidence Analysis, Forensic Science Research Methods, Forensic Chemistry, and Applications of Forensic Science.

Dr. Roberts is currently collaborating with a consortium of European universities to develop a portable, inexpensive, and rapid method of dating latent fingerprints. Her publications are on topics related to trace evidence analysis, forensic examination of sexual assault evidence, and mitochondrial DNA analysis.

She was an elected member of the Technical Working Group for Education and Training in Forensic Science (TWGED) that was convened by the National Institute of Justice. The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) uses the report issued by TWGED in order to evaluate the academic standards of undergraduate and graduate forensic science programs.

Dr. Roberts is currently serving as the  Interim Executive Director of the California Forensic Science Institute.

Education

PhD     Forensic Science, Graduate School & University

Center, City University New York

M.Phil  Criminal Justice, Graduate School & University

Center, City University New York

MSc     Forensic Science, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

BSc     Chemistry, King’s College, University of London

 

LISTEN: Link Goes Live Saturday 3-26-16 10 a.m. Pacific http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2016/02/23/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-dr-katherine-roberts

 

LINKS: California Forensic Science Institute http://www.calstatela.edu/hhs/cfsi

CSULA School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics http://www.calstatela.edu/hhs/crim

LA Times article, “Cal State L.A. graduate students hone crime scene expertise,” http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jul/27/local/la-me-cal-state-criminalists-20130728

Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) http://www.fepac-edu.org

 

ThrillerFest/CraftFest/Master CraftFest are coming July 5-9, 2016

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ThrillerFest is the premiere conference for thriller enthusiasts, bringing together fans, famous authors and new ones, industry professionals and agents. It’s a vibrant hub of literary networking and social interaction offering an opportunity for thriller lovers to meet and mingle with their favorite authors at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City every July. When we say mingle, we mean it. An array of impressive names, including Clive Cussler, Lee Child, James Patterson, Sandra Brown, Harlan Coben, David Baldacci, David Morrell, Ken Follett, R.L. Stine, and many more have been known to linger in the conference rooms and halls, accessible to attendees.

The ThrillerFest team is busy preparing for a memorable 2016 conference, hoping to make it the best yet. The conference consists of several events, priced separately and in money-saving packages. Those events are:

Today’s FBI: Crime Essentials For Writers

In this full day workshop held at FBI Headquarters, you’ll hear from FBI experts in Cybercrime, International Terrorism, Criminal Investigations, and more. Lunch, drinks, and snacks served. Class size is limited by the FBI and fills up quickly.

Master CraftFest

Don’t miss this opportunity to study with the Masters of the genre in a one-day intensive workshop to take your writing to the next level. Everyone is welcome, from beginning writers to well-established authors. The instructors this year will be Steve Berry, Grant Blackwood, David Corbett, Meg Gardiner, Heather Graham, Andrew Gross, Richard Krevolin, and Gayle Lynds. Class sizes are limited to provide a personal experience.

CraftFest

As always we have a group of talented teachers to broaden your knowledge about the craft of writing as well as experts in many fields like forensics and firearms so you can get the facts right in your novel.

PitchFest

Be sure to sign up for the incredible opportunity to further your writing career, as we’ll have over 50 agents, editors, and producers ready to hear your pitch at our annual PitchFest event. Visit www.thrillerfest.com and read the Success Stories from past years.

ThrillerFest

We’re planning some phenomenal panels, always trying to innovate and entertain. Join us for the spotlight interviews, cocktail parties, workshops, and fabulous networking opportunities. Please check the volunteer box during registration, as it’s a great way to make new friends.

Thriller Awards Banquet
A gala banquet and celebration tops off everything, with 2016 ThrillerMaster Heather Graham receiving her award, and the exciting announcement of the winners of the Thriller Awards!

Exhibitor/Vendor Tables
We’re offering exhibitor/vendor tables during the ThrillerFest event for non-bookselling vendors. If you’d like to promote your goods, services, or brand, it’s an excellent opportunity to reach many thriller enthusiasts.

Enter the Best First Sentence Contest for a chance to win a critique of 10 manuscript pages from one of our phenomenal Master CraftFest teachers.

More Info and Registration: http://thrillerfest.com

Follow us:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/International-Thriller-Writers-Organization-59208702261/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thrillerwriters

Hope to see you all in New York

DP Lyle
ITW VP for Education
CraftFest/Master CraftFest/Thriller School Director

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2016 in Writing

 

Diatoms: Microscopic Clues of Death By Drowning?

Light micrograph of radial and pennate diatoms under darkfield illumination

DIATOMS

What are diatoms? How do they help the Medical Examiner determine that a death was from drowning?

Determining that someone has drowned is not as easy as it might seem. The finding of water in the lungs isn’t enough. Sure drowning victims most often have water-filled lungs but if a corpse is tossed into a body of water, the lungs will often passively fill as the water replaces the trapped air in the airways and lung tissue. However, if the ME finds inhaled debris such as plant and water-born insects, etc. deep in the lungs, this suggests that the victim was breathing at the time they entered the water and inhaled the debris-filled water. But this isn’t always found.

So a method for determining drowning is needed. Diatoms might help. Though controversial and definitely not universally accepted as a sign of drowning, this search for diatoms is an interesting forensic science technique. And this search is not in the lungs, but rather in the bone marrow.

From HOWDUNNIT: FORENSICS:

The ME might also find clues to indicate that the victim was conscious before drowning by examination of the bone marrow. This might sound odd at first, but the key is in finding tiny creatures called diatoms within the marrow.

Diatoms are tiny single-celled organisms that scurry around in both salt and fresh water. They have silica in their cell walls and are very resistant to degradation. If the victim’s heart is still beating when he enters the water, any diatoms in the inhaled water will pass through the lungs, enter the bloodstream, and be pumped throughout the body, where they tend to collect in the bone marrow.

If a microscopic analysis of the marrow reveals diatoms, the victim must have been alive at the time of water entry. This technique may be useful in severely degraded or skeletal remains where no lungs or sinus tissues are available for examination. Unfortunately, diatom testing is not exactly that straightforward and is controversial. Some experts feel that diatoms are an inexact tool for determining if a drowning occurred. Some bodies of water contain no diatoms.

Also, they are found in air and soil and even on the clothing of the examiner. This makes contamination of the tested sample a possibility.

 

Howdunnit Forensics Cover

 

Dirty DNA

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One truth in forensic DNA testing is that you must have a sample to test. That, of course, should be self-evident. But sometimes crime scene DNA isn’t readily available. There are no blood or semen stains on the floor or bed sheets or any location where they could be easily sampled. What’s the crime lab to do?

New methods are under development that allow for extracting useable DNA from some unusual places, even dirt. GEMBE (gradient elution moving boundary electrophoresis) grabs DNA hidden in the dirt by employing a molecular “tug-of-war.” Cool.

For more about DNA sampling and testing, grab a copy of my updated, 2nd Edition of FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES.

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INFO/PURCHASE

 

FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES Release Day

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Forensics For Dummies Updated 2nd Edition is now available.

Get it through your local Indie Bookstore or here:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Forensics-Dummies-Douglas-P-Lyle/dp/1119181658

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/forensics-for-dummies-douglas-p-lyle/1013991421

 

Crime and Science Radio: Follow the Money: Catching Cheaters, Frauds and Con Artists — An Interview with Securities Fraud Investigator Richard B. York

Join Jan Burke and me for a special 2-part interview with Richard B. York

Richard York

 

Follow the Money: Catching Cheaters, Frauds and Con Artists — An Interview with Securities Fraud Investigator Richard B. York

Part 1: 2-27-16 and Part 2: 3-12-16

BIO: Richard B York began his career in Law Enforcement over forty years ago, when he became a police officer in Arkansas City, Kansas. He holds degrees in police science, criminal investigation and police administration, and received several certifications for financial crimes investigations.

From 1984-2011, he served in the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner in Wichita, Kansas, where he became the Director of Enforcement. This is the Kansas State agency overseeing registration and enforcement of investor related laws (The Kansas Uniform Securities Act).  He personally handled over 300 investigations and supervised over 1,000 investigations.  Most involved some form of fraud and overlap of other federal or state laws. Many investigations were coordinated with outside law enforcement agencies. His activities included training and supervising other investigators; working with federal, state, and local agencies; covert investigations investigations; training banking and law enforcement in S.A.R. — Suspicious Activity Reports — and government compliance; working with victims of financial crimes; case preparation and testimony in prosecutions of financial crimes.

Mr. York has been a professional musician from childhood, when he made frequent television appearances as a guitarist. He still participates in playing finger-style guitar at the Winfield Music Festival and elsewhere.

LISTEN:

PART 1: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2016/02/17/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-richard-york

PART 2http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2016/03/02/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-richard-york-part-2

Link goes live Saturday 3-12-16 at 10 a.m. Pacific for Part 2

LINKS:

Financial Industry Regulatory authority: http://www.finra.org

(This link provides guidance to investors on securities brokers and securities transactions.  You can enter your broker’s name to determine if any disciplinary action has been taken.)

US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): http://www.sec.gov

(This link is to the U.S. Securities and Exchange. Information on actions taken against violators; educational section for investors)

North american Securities Administrators Association (NASAA): http://www.nasaa.org

(This link is to an association of State Securities Commissioner’s office. Investor education and state actions, such as criminal charges and cease and desist orders are available. It has a fraud education center and ability to check out registered brokers.)

ALSO: Every state will have a securities regulator, but sometimes that office is combined with various other state functions (eg: Secretary of State; Insurance Commissioner; Dept. of Commerce; Attorney General’s Office, etc.)

To find your own state securities commissioner’s office/website, just do a Google search:   (your state’s name) + securities

That will take you to a link that will allow you to get to your own state securities commissioner’s office and they will have postings for actions taken on suspects/companies; fraud alerts and lots of educational material.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2016 in Crime and Science Radio

 

The Mockingbird Has Passed

Harper Lee

 

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about this injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn’t have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.

When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the Summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.

 

Thus begins one of the truly iconic American stories. A story everyone should read—-many times. I know I have.

And now Harper Lee is gone. As a fellow Alabamian, it feels as though I’ve lost a family member.

So long, Harper. You will be sorely missed.

 

Mockingbird

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2016 in Writing

 
 
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