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UAlbany Professor Lednev Appointed to White House Subcommittee on Forensic Science

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ALBANY, N.Y. (January 18, 2011) -- Associate Professor of Chemistry Igor Lednev was recently selected as an advisory member to the White House Subcommittee on Forensic Science's (SoFS) Inter-agency Working Group on Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation. Spurred by a National Academy of Sciences report which found a convoluted forensic science system in need of revision, Lednev is among a select group of scientists and policymakers who have been tasked with shaping the course of research in the field for the next 15-20 years.

Lednev is joined on the working group by colleagues from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), National Science Foundation (NSF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), scientists from some of the top Universities, and high-level practitioners of forensic science from across the nation. Their task is to plot the long-term trajectory of forensic science by identifying and prioritizing current and future research, and bridging the gap between discovery and implementation.

The Subcommittee examines policies, procedures and plans related to forensic science and the implications for national security, criminal justice, and medical examiner/coroner systems at the local, state and federal levels.

Associate Professor of Chemistry Igor Lednev and former student Kelly Virkler

Through his appointment to the national working group, Professor Lednev (with Ph.D. grad Kelly Virkler, '09) will help shape the course of forensic research and development for the next 20 years.

In recent years, developments in forensic science have helped exonerate the wrongfully convicted, shed new light on so-called "cold cases," and strengthen homeland security through precision technologies. As these advances continue to occur at a lightning pace, the imperative for the working group is to guide future research toward practical application. "To put it simply, our goal is to advise on the way forward," said Lednev.

Lednev has already received national recognition for his cutting-edge research, recently earning $375,000 grant from DOJ for his development of a novel, easy-to-use approach for crime scene investigators (CSIs) to identify body fluid traces at crime scenes. Utilizing Raman spectroscopy, Lednev's approach will allow investigators to quickly make on-field, confirmatory identifications of body fluids. The portable spectrometers -- devices used to measure properties of light over a specific portion of the electromagnetic spectrum -- will be capable of differentiating between human and animal species, and in determining the age of a biological stain. Recently, an article he co-wrote with UAlbany Ph.D. graduate Kelly Virkler made the No. 1 spot on the list of the "Most Downloaded Papers" from Forensic Science International, the top journal in the field.

The SoFS advises and assists the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) and other coordination bodies of the Executive Office of the President on policies, procedures and plans. In support of the Subcommittee's efforts, the working group convenes once a month in Washington, D.C., with the purpose of exchanging views, information, and advice relating to the management and implementation of Federal programs relating to forensic science.

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