Kelly Brinsko Beckert Presents at Joint SAFS/ASTEE Conference

This week (April 30- May 3, 2019), the Southern Association of Forensic Scientists (SAFS) and the American Society of Trace Evidence Examiners (ASTEE) are holding their joint meeting in Ashville, NC. The event will also mark ASTEE’s 10 year anniversary celebration.

On Friday, May 3rd, Microtrace’s Kelly Brinsko Beckert will present a paper entitled, “Nanoparticles as Trace Evidence.” The paper, co-authored with Skip and Chris Palenik, uses case studies to demonstrate the often overlooked utility of sub-micron and nanoparticles in forensic science. She will then discuss a protocol developed at Microtrace, which allows forensic laboratories to utilize familiar equipment and instrumentation for the isolation and analysis of nanoparticles in trace evidence.

Ms. Beckert also serves ASTEE’s Trace Evidence Section Chair.

More information on the conference can be found here.


Nanoparticles as Trace Evidence

Kelly Brinsko Beckert, Skip Palenik, and Christopher Palenik

Sub-micron and nanoparticles comprise a new subcategory of trace evidence that is often easily overlooked and thus underutilized in forensic science.  Despite the fact that these sub-microscopic particles are nearly ubiquitous in the environment and are found in a number of widely available and commonly used consumer products, from cosmetics to paint and food, they are rarely exploited in casework.  This may be due in part to a general lack of awareness regarding the existence of these particles, as well as the fact that no methods for their detection, isolation, and analysis are rarely published in the context of forensic science.  A protocol based on a published soil separation procedure has been developed which allows forensic laboratories to utilize familiar equipment and instrumentation for the isolation and analysis of nanoparticles in trace evidence.  Special attention is given to background contamination and its larger implications on the interpretation of results.  This research demonstrates the efficacy of this technique, and shows how nanoparticles or collections of nanoparticles may be used to help characterize a soil, dust, or other unknown residues for identifications, comparisons, or the development of investigative leads.

A recent case study illustrates the value of such evidence, examples of some of the techniques that can be used to analyze them, the necessity for caution in interpretation, and the precautions that must be taken and considered in any such investigation.

Southern Association of Forensic Scientists

For over 50 years, the Southern Association of Forensic Scientists has served a distinguished group of professional members in a variety of different forensic disciplines. SAFS counts over 300 members in its ranks and continues to provide support to the forensic community through its offerings in continuing education, peer guidance and professional networking opportunities.

The American Society of Trace Evidence Examiners

ASTEE consists of 400 forensic practitioners, professors, students, and researchers from around the world, who share a common goal of advancing the various disciplines in the field of trace evidence analyses. Founded in 2009, the organization aims to:

  • Encourage the exchange and dissemination of ideas and information within the fields of trace evidence through improving contacts between persons and laboratories engaged in trace evidence analysis
  • Stimulate research and the development of new and/or improved scientific techniques for forensic trace applications.
  • Promote high standards of performance and professional ethics and acknowledge persons working in the recognized forensic science field of trace evidence.

In 2013, ASTEE awarded the Edmond Locard Award for Excellence in Trace Evidence to Microtrace founder Skip Palenik. This award is presented annually to acknowledge deserving individuals who have made significant contributions to the field.

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