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AFMES participates in AAFS

Personnel from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System pose for a photo Feb. 14, 2017, at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences’69th Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. More than 12 personnel from AFMES participated in the AAFS meeting. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashlin Federick) Personnel from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System pose for a photo Feb. 14, 2017, at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences’69th Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. More than 12 personnel from AFMES participated in the AAFS meeting. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashlin Federick)

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NEW ORLEANS, La. – More than 12 personnel from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, participated in the American Academy of Forensic Sciences’ 69th Annual Scientific Meeting February 13-18 here. 

The AAFS meeting, founded in 1948, is held every year in February for more than 4,000 professionals from all over the world to come and discuss issues facing the profession and attend scientific sessions. This year’s meeting featured 11 disciplines including anthropology, criminalistics, pathology and toxicology just to name a few. 

Air Force Lt. Col. Alice Briones, AFMES Department of Defense DNA Registry director, said the AAFS meeting was not only a great place to network but also to learn new scientific techniques and do cross-disciplinary training for continuing medical education she might not otherwise be able to do.

“There may be medical examiners from other areas that may have a certain type of case that we haven’t seen as much,” said Briones. “There may also be areas that are having the same trend in toxicology and to be able to see their approach and share challenges they are having and how they present them.” 

Suni Edson, AFMES DOD DNA Registry assistant technical leader for the past accounting section, said she attends AAFS because it provides an excellent opportunity to network with other scientists from across the country and around the world. 

“The connections you can make at the Academy meetings are invaluable,” said Edson. “Someone you are randomly introduced to may be able to provide insight into a project or a case you are working on, and perhaps provide solutions or an innovative approach. It is a great source for scientific exchange and well worth the time for AFMES scientists to participate.” 

Each division at AFMES had the opportunity to be represented whether through a poster session, oral presentation or a workshop. Overall there were 970 scientific presentations given during the AAFS meeting. 

Dr. Jeff Walterscheid, AFMES Forensic Toxicology chief toxicologist, said it is important for everyone to know about AFMES and what its mission is. He said he had a really good feeling about this meeting and is so proud of how the toxicology personnel came out and represented. 

“This is the first year I have actually seen AFMES being represented here at the conference,” said Walterscheid. “I had the opportunity to see the toxicology group go one after the other and really execute and show the audience what we can do. I got some really great feedback and can’t wait to get back and start drafting what we are going to do next year.” 

Briones said she thinks it is important for AFMES to be represented at AAFS because they are the only federal medical examiner system. 

“The biggest thing is making sure they know who we are, that we exist, what we cover and how we can help them in collaborations if needed,” said Briones. “I also think it is important for trainees, whether its fellows or individuals who are doing internships, to get the opportunity to go to one of these conferences, because the biggest part of science is networking.” 

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