21 Forensic Science Students Attend Academy Meeting; 5 Present

By Purnell T. Cropper | March 9, 2012

All 21 of Arcadia’s second-year Forensic Science master’s students attended the annual American Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting last week in Atlanta, Ga., where they had an opportunity to network, attend training, learn about the latest research in the field, and prepare for applying for jobs after graduation in May. Five students presented their research at the meeting.

The AAFS meeting is the largest professional forensic science meeting in the United States, with more than 4,200 attendees. The students had an opportunity to attend multiple scientific and social sessions during the meeting, including a job fair and Arcadia’s first M.S.F.S. alumni event, held in conjunction with the AAFS Toxicology Section, which provided excellent opportunities for networking, making connections and professional development. Dr. Barry K. Logan, Adjunct Professor of Forensic Science in Arcadia University’s FEPAC-accredited Forensic Science master’s program, and Interim Program Director Heather Mazzanti accompanied the students.

Five students from Arcadia presented their research at the AAFS meeting. The presentations given were on prominent topics in forensic science by second-year students Martha Wood, Theresa Scott and Emmi Silvka; part-time student and NMS Labs employee Alex Maggitti; and first-year student Sarah Wehrhan Muller.

Wood described how analytical conditions in toxicology testing, unless carefully controlled, can result in the formation of artifacts when testing for codeine. This could cause inaccurate or misleading results and led to the recommendation of a more targeted procedure.

Scott described Kratom, which is easily purchased over the Internet and recently in retail shops and which contains both the naturally occurring drug mitragynine and the potent synthetic opioid metabolite O-desmethyltramadol. Various Kratom products were chemically characterized using SWGDRUG techniques.

Slivka presented her data on the contents of “Bath Salt” products that have recently appeared on the illicit drug market, and she characterized forensic chemistry laboratory-based approaches to their analysis.

Maggitti described his development and validation of a test for Tetrahydrocannabinol (*THC), the active drug in marijuana, in human saliva samples using a sensitive three-dimensional gas chromatography method, and he warned about the risk of false positives from toothpaste and mouthwash with older tests that lack the necessary specificity.

Muller presented data on a project she had worked on for the AAFS Board of Directors surveying attitudes in the organization regarding its diversity policies and resources. The survey has resulted in some changes to the AAFS policies and procedures.

In addition, Adjunct Professor Jill Yeakel from the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education presented papers on the effects of designer drugs on driving impairment and the analysis of Kanna, a naturally occurring plant product, that is now subject to abuse.