Elemental and Isotopic Analysis of Forensic Evidence “Hands-on” Workshop – Feb. 14-18, 2005

Florida International University   Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry and International Forensic Research Institute

Partly sponsored by the Natural Isotopes and Trace Elements in CRIMinalistics and Environmental forensics (NITECRIME) network



The aim is to train the participants to use trace elements and isotopes to analyze forensic samples and to interpret and present the data produced.


There will be a workshop during the week of Feb. 14-18, 2005 in Miami, Florida on the campus of the Florida International University. A maximum of 10 students will be permitted to register. The cost of the workshop will be $ 750./student for tuition. Accommodation costs are expected to be ~ $ 89./night per person. These workshops are partly sponsored by the EU funded NITECRIME network.


The workshops will include theory and practice lectures and laboratory exercises. The instrumentation available includes three (3) ICP-MS systems (Agilent 4500+, PE SCIEX DRCII and a Thermo Element 2 High Resolution). There will also be two different laser ablation systems (CETAC 266 and a New Wave 213) available for solid sampling. Additionally demonstrations will be given on the use of IRMS for the analysis of forensic samples.


The target audience are practicing forensic scientists and researchers in forensic applications that either currently have access to IRMS, ICP-AES, ICP-MS and/or LA-ICP-MS or are in the process of obtaining access to any of these instruments. Participants will also be able to get involved with IRMS techniques. Laboratory scientists that supervise trace evidence sections that will consider the use of these methods in the future are also invited to apply for registration.


NOTE. It is requested that all participants bring along a laptop computer for data analysis!


Program description

The requirement to uniquely characterise and compare physical evidence from fraud and environmental casework and crime scenes is a major task in forensic science. Trace element and natural isotope profiles can assist in this process. New developments in instrumentation have created exciting possibilities for the routine "non-destructive" isotope and trace-element analysis of small and valuable specimens. Specialists from the NITECRIME Network (www.nitecrime.eu.com) will give an introduction on how to use trace elements and natural isotopic profiles to verify the authenticity and/or origin of raw materials, industrial products and materials, illegal drugs, foodstuffs, and human remains. Special attention will be given to the origin of trace element and isotopic variations in nature, the pro and cons of analytical systems and data presentation and interpretation.


NITECRIME is an acronym for “Natural Isotopes and Trace Elements in CRIMinalistics and Environmental forensics”. It is an EU funded global network for developing and validating state of the art analytical methods and for disseminating these methods and practices to relevant users.  Member organizations consist of forensic laboratories (FBI, BKA, NFI, US Customs, FSS,  and others) and academic institutions (Institute of Food Research UK, Florida International University, ETHZ, Curtin Univ., Utah Univ., Otago Univ. and others) from around the world.


The methods developed in the network are used to identify characteristic inorganic fingerprints not only from classical forensic materials like glass and bullets but also from food products, precious metals and human remains. Additionally the network is developing guidelines on how to interpret the multivariate data and how to present the results to a legal audience.


Educational objectives  (upon completion of this workshop, the participant should be able to): understand the basic principles of trace elemental and isotopic analysis, become aware of how these methods can be applied to forensic science and learn how to access these methods for their own work.


Impact on the Forensic Community and/or Humanity: The overall impact of the workshop is expected to result from a better understanding of the application of these sophisticated methods to evidence analyses. Workshop participants will be exposed to a number of techniques and methods that can be immediately applied to improve the value of scientific evidence.


Topics and Instructors


9.00 am – 9.15 am      Welcome and Introduction to the Workshop and NITECRIME   network,  Jose Almirall, Ph.D.


9.15 am – 10.00 am    Variation of trace elements and isotopes in nature

                                     Jurian Hoogewerff, Ph.D.


10.00 am - 10.45 am   Instrumentation

Christopher Latkoczy, Ph.D.


10.45 am-11.00 am     Coffee/Tea Break


11.00 am-11.40 pm     Trace Elemental Analysis of Glass

                                    Jose R. Almirall, Ph.D.


11.40 am-12.15 pm     Trace Elemental Analysis of Paint

                                    Tatiana Trejos, M.S.


12.15 pm-1.15 pm      Lunch Break


1.15 pm -2.00 pm       Trace Elemental Analysis of Precious Metals and

Gemstones  John Watling, Ph.D.


2.00 pm- 2.45 pm       Isotopes and Trace Elements in Food Authentication

Simon Kelly, Ph.D.


2.45 pm- 3.20 pm       Environmental Forensic Analysis

                                    Stewart Walker, Ph.D.


3.20 pm-3.35 pm        Coffee/Tea Break


3.35 pm-4.20 pm        Elemental and Isotope Ratio Analysis in Human

                                    Authentication  Ken Pye, Ph.D.


4.20 pm – 5.00 pm      Chemometrics and Data Presentation 

                                    Shirly Montero, Ph.D.




Monday, Feb. 14 (Introduction to theory and forensic applications) Overview of Instrumentation and group formation (4-5 groups of 2 students will be formed)


Tuesday, Feb. 15 (Demonstration of instrument operation and measurements of standards) (Glass, metals and paint analysis)


Wednesday, Feb. 16 (Sample measurements and data analysis)


Thursday, Feb. 17 (Sample measurements, data analysis and interpretation)


Friday, Feb. 18 (1/2 day) (data analysis, interpretation and presentation)


Note: Registration Deadline is Jan. 7, 2005.