Greetings from Madison, Wisconsin. We hope this edition of the ISHI Report finds you enjoying all that Spring has to offer including warmer weather and a slow return to normalcy as pandemic restrictions begin to lift.
Registration is open for ISHI 32 with options to attend either in person at the Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Florida or virtually. Attendance at the in-person meeting will be capped at 550 registrants to maintain social distancing requirements. Virtual attendees can choose to participate in the general session or select workshops for a nominal fee. Complete details can be found at www.ishinews.com.
Abstracts for oral or interesting case presentations at ISHI are due June 14. All abstracts will be reviewed by an outside panel of experts and selected based on perceived interest to the forensic community. Poster abstracts are due July 12. Abstracts not selected for oral presentation will be considered for poster presentation.
In this issue we check in on a pair of young people just embarking on careers in forensic science. Olivia McCarter and Eric Schubert are both contributing to efforts to identify unidentified remains using genetic genealogy databases. Despite their youth, both have helped solve previously intractable cases. Olivia will be attending this year’s ISHI as a member of the student ambassadors. Speaking of this year’s ambassadors, you can get to know all of them on page 9.
Our colleague Ken Doyle shares insights gained during interviews with two policy experts working on the problem of missing persons. Dr. Sara Katsanis and Dr. Jodie Ward are both working on the issue from different sides of the globe. Although the landscape is vastly different in the United States and Australia, the need to address this crisis knows no borders.
John Collins, one of the instructors at the ISHI workshop, You Deserve a Cookie! Navigating the Challenging World of Leadership in Forensic Biology pens an article advocating that leaders in forensic settings fully embrace their role. Participate in the workshop to learn from experts how to get the best from your staff and provide them with the support they need.
We are very excited to bring you the first episode of our video series The Missing Piece, created in collaboration with Othram. This episode features Carla Walker, a 17 year-old abducted from a Fort Worth, Texas parking lot and murdered after a Valentine’s Day dance in 1974. Her killer remained unidentified for nearly half a century before advanced DNA analysis and exceptional investigative work finally named him.
Michael Coble and Jessica Charak Lehrner tell us how life has changed (or not) due to the pandemic. Like many of us they have had to adjust to a new normal as they pivoted to remote work and the challenge of maintaining connections with colleagues via ZOOM.
Dr. Angie Ambers, Assistant Director of the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science and Mike Ware, Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Texas share the case of Lydell Grant, who was wrongfully convicted of a murder in Houston, Texas. The use of probabilistic genotyping helped to prove his innocence, though he is still waiting to be formally exonerated.
Finally, Lutz Roewer and Sascha Willuweit of the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences in Berlin, Germany explore the best ways to intrepret Y-STR evidence. If you’d like a copy of the YHRD Instruction Manual, please fill out the form on page 12.
We hope you enjoy the May issue. As always, we welcome your ideas and written contributions to our publication.