Workshops Announced for ISHI 34 – ISHI News

Feb 06 2023

Workshops Announced for ISHI 34

Meeting Update

Registration is now open for the world’s biggest symposium focused on DNA typing for human identification.


You can also participate in one of 13 workshops offered before and after the ISHI general session. Workshops will appeal to both newly minted DNA analysts and seasoned forensic professionals.



On Sunday, two full-day workshops will be offered. In the first, A Summary of the Recommendations Made by the NIST/NIJ Expert Working Group on Human Factors in Forensic DNA Interpretation, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)/National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Expert Working Group (EWG) on Human Factors in Forensic DNA Interpretation will present, from a human factors perspective, their research and recommendations specific to the following key topic areas of interest:

  • Management and leadership in a forensic DNA laboratory.
  • Quality Assurance (QA)/Quality Control (QC) in a forensic DNA laboratory.
  • The current and ideal future state of education, training, and professional credentialing opportunities for DNA analysts.
  • The role of technology in DNA interpretation and the transition from manual to probabilistic methods of DNA interpretation in a forensic DNA laboratory.
  • Specific interpretation tasks or decisions that DNA analysts may need to make throughout the course of an analysis from sample receipt through the pre-comparison, comparison, and post-comparison phases of interpretation.
  • Written and verbal quantitative and qualitative communication of forensic DNA results.
  • Interpretations of DNA results considering alleged activities that aim to contribute to questions about how or when the DNA may have been deposited, including consideration of the transfer, persistence, prevalence, and recovery of DNA.


The second, Courtroom Comms: Testifying about Forensic Science with Communication Best Practices, will address challenges faced by forensic practitioners when communicating science to a layperson, such as the interrogative structure, varied audiences, specialized language and adversarial narratives. Using research-driven communication principles to help scientists convey complexity while preserving accuracy, The Alda Method is a unique communication training technique blending improvisational theater with audience-focused design strategies. Driven by the adaptability and active listening central to improvisation and the empathy and connection prescribed by social science research, the Alda Method helps scientists effectively engage with non-expert audiences. Participants should expect active involvement and iterative moot testimony practice.


Also being held on Sunday is a free of charge workshop hosted by AABB, addressing AABB accreditation related topics such as Relationship Testing Standards, proficiency testing, validations, and calculations and Beyond The STRs: Effectively Using Forensic DNA Technology to Solve Current and Prevent Future Crime. In Beyond the STRs… attendees will learn how additional DNA analyses can be leveraged cost-effectively to solve current investigations and prevent future crime. Attendees will be introduced to the various methods of indirect DNA matching, including the use of X-STRs, Y-STRs, mitochondrial DNA, familial searching, and forensic investigative genetic genealogy (FIGG). Presenters will explore how these techniques can be used in combination for routine casework, and how it can be done cost-effectively.


This year we’ll have two workshops presented entirely in Spanish. The first offering is Technical Challenges and Analysis of the Results in Kinship Cases that Appear to Comply with Murphy’s Law held on Sunday afternoon. Murphy’s Law says: “Everything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Using standard STR markers sets to establish biological relationships analysis complex can generate ambiguous data. Presenters will try to reverse the “bad luck” with different technical strategies and statistical analysis.


Are you in a supervisory position?  You’ll want to check out the workshops focused on best practices for bringing new hires into the lab and a second workshop on effectively dealing with challenging people and situations.


Also on Monday, is the Advanced Workshop on the Reporting of Likelihood Ratios. This workshop will provide attendees guidance for the reporting of likelihood ratios (LRs) for DNA profiling evidence. Topics include: an introduction to Bayes’ Theorem and the assignment of LRs, setting propositions for complex scenarios with examples, approaches when relatives are a consideration (including mixtures of relatives and propositions considering relatives either as co-contributors or alternate contributors), and reporting LRs. Presenters will provide analogies for the layperson, discuss pros and cons of verbal scales, and reporting LRs with an emphasis on avoiding fallacies.


Those interested in FIGG should check out the Practical Application of FIGG in a Case of Unknown Identity: A Guided Interactive Approach Workshop. The purpose and goal of this workshop is to provide a basic understanding of the steps involved in using FIGG to identify an unknown individual. Speakers have prepared a case that will allow attendees to watch or participate depending upon their level of FIGG experience. Each module will include a presentation followed by a period of directed collaborative research. Solutions will be given at the end of each module enabling attendees to assess their skill level.


Being in a leadership position can always be tough, but leading in the forensic DNA field has a unique set of challenges. Workshop chair, John Collins, a high-stakes leadership consultant and executive coach at Critical Victories has recruited some fabulous speakers to present “The New Superior – A Better Way to Be in the One in Charge Workshop”.  In this workshop, facilitators will challenge what it means to be a superior and encourage participants to develop new attitudes and strategies for being more effective and trustworthy in how they lead and manage their people. Participants will undergo a Gallup Global Strengths assessment and learn how their individual strengths create both advantages and disadvantages in how they interact with a wide variety of people, including scientists, criminal justice professionals, and police commanders. Through expanded self-self awareness, our attendees will grow their effectiveness as leaders working in the complex arena where science meets the arbiters and enforcers of law.


Those interested in IGG will be pleased to see another full-day workshop offering on Monday. “Investigative Genetic Genealogy: A Comprehensive Review” is led by Danny Hellwig of Intermountain Forensics Laboratory and features several presenters who are experts in the field. The purpose of this workshop is to provide a comprehensive overview of the process of investigative genetic genealogy from lab to investigation. This will entail a deep dive into the instrumentation used (microarray, next gen sequencing, whole genome sequencing), bioinformatics used to transform that data, the databases utilized and the process of investigation that genetic genealogists use. The forensic community is new to this process and this workshop is intended to provide clarity to the community.


There will be four workshop offerings on Thursday afternoon after the conclusion of the General Session presentations, including a workshop designed for and led by Technical Leaders. Those interested in Rapid DNA should attend Preparing for Crime Scene Rapid DNA and CODIS. The primary goal of this workshop is to begin preparing CODIS laboratories for the FBI’s future vision and implementation of crime scene Rapid DNA for CODIS enrollment. It is estimated that national crime scene Rapid DNA Quality Assurance Standards may be available as early as the first quarter of 2025. Presentation topics include progress on the FBI’s vision, expanding a CODIS Laboratory’s scope of accreditation to locations outside the laboratory to include partner agencies, lessons learned from non-CODIS crime scene applications, and important concepts regarding future national crime scene Rapid DNA Standards and Procedures.


Also on Thursday is Silent Mass Disasters: Evidence Based Strategies for Implementing New DNA Technologies for Missing Persons Programs. This workshop, consisting of academic experts, forensic practitioners and medical examiners, will review established and emerging methods to associate UHRs to families, discuss considerations and practices for expanding database utility for underserved populations and strategies for operationalizing an end-to-end small, large-scale or national programs for the identification of unidentified human remains.


Costs and specifics for each workshop (including which workshops are offered virtually) can be found on our agenda page. Workshop space is limited, so don’t procrastinate if you hope to secure a place.