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Source: US Government research organizations

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:

The main Event: November 05-06, 2020

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.

Please see the agenda located at the bottom of the event page. 

Optional Workshops: November 09-10, 2020

**UPDATE (10/08/20)** Registration to attend a workshop (November 09-10th) is now closed. We have reached the registration capacity for each session. Registration to attend the main event on November 05-06th is still open. 

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: 10:00AM – 4:00PM ET

Host: Peter Vallone 

Agenda: (PDF)

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: 1:00PM – 5:00PM ET

Host: Walter Brent Wilson and Melissa M. Phillips

Agenda: (PDF)

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.