Before I get started, I want to give you a quick reminder that the early-bird registration ends January 28th. You don’t have to pay until March but you might want to register now while the cost is lower.

As ASCLD President, I have the distinct honor to address you in these weekly messages. In speaking to Past-Presidents early on, they encouraged me to set the tone and draw the attention of the membership to what I feel is important and want to advocate on behalf of. I have been uncertain as to whether or not there is a cause that I should champion over any other during my presidency. I was sitting on the couch last night contemplating what to include in my CLM message of the week, when my husband popped the “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” DVD into the player. We had watched the “Fellowship of the Ring” last week. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has always been a favorite of mine since I was young and read the books three times. We watch the movies each year during the winter months as a family tradition. A realization dawned on me as we neared the end of the movie with the battle at Helm’s Deep and the Elven army arrived to fight beside Men just as they had 3000 years ago. Fellowship! I finally put a word to the focus of my past messages. I have encouraged membership, highlighted some of the resources provided by members to other members, reached out for participation by members in surveys and trainings that are provided by other members, etc. and advocated for you to take care of yourself and your staff. Membership has its perks but you can’t beat the fellowship we enjoy. As nouns the difference between membership and fellowship is that membership is the state of being a member of a group or organization while fellowship is a company of people that share the same interest or aim. As a verb fellowship is to make feel welcome by showing friendship or building a cordial relationship. ASCLD is not just a membership organization. We are a fellowship. We have considerable diversity in our backgrounds. Whether public or private, large, medium, or small, local, state, or federal, chemists, biologists, doctors, comparison scientists, administrators, or lawyers… we are focused on our jobs of managing forensic science service organizations. And I call all of you my friend. So I will continue my weekly message to you with highlights of what your peers are providing you as well as what help they need from you.

Do you perform Direct to DNA analysis on your sexual assault evidence kits? The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE), led by RTI International and funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ), is conducting a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) study and developing an accompanying CBA calculator to support evidence-based decision making for the considerations of implementing a Direct-to-DNA approach for the processing of sexual assault kits and sexual assault evidence in accordance with recommendation #27 in the NIJ National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits; a Multidisciplinary Approach guidance document. If you are interested in participating, please contact Mikalaa Martin ( at RTI International and provide your name, best telephone number, and laboratory name. She will be in touch with you within two business days. Additionally, please feel free to reach out if you have questions or comments about the project. Your participation can help other laboratories who want to implement this strategy but are unsure of the cost benefits. Studies such as this provide the data and considerations to be made when deciding to implement or requesting the funding to do so. Help thy neighbor.

The Board of Directors will be gathering in Savannah, GA for a meeting on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning of the upcoming week (January 14-16) where we will review the Bylaws and the Administrative Manual, vote on our 2022 budget, and update the two year strategic plan including the National Outreach Priorities & Agenda (NOPA). All meetings of the Board of Directors are open to the general membership. Anyone on the area is welcome to pop in or you can listen in via Zoom. We meet monthly online and those are always open as well to the membership.

Please join your forensic colleagues April 24-28, 2022 in Reno, NV where we will be Facing the Challenge: Mission Possible! Build upon the fellowship and be more than just a member.