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Advance Your Research Skills

CSAFE, a NIST Center of Excellence, values talented young scientists interested in partnering with us to improve the United States criminal justice system. Our team is increasing the scientific foundations of pattern and digital evidence through innovative research and training opportunities. Alongside contributing to the fair administration of justice, our dynamic community is passionate about mentoring the next generation of leading researchers. 

With CSAFE, students gain valuable professional experience and prepare for a career in the criminal justice, forensic science, judicial and related fields. We invite students committed to innovation and excellence to inquire about our available opportunities.

Upcoming Events

Registration is now open for these available events.

Webinar: Ensemble SLRs for Forensic Evidence Comparison

Thursday, August 25 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm CDT

Summer Opportunities

Are you looking for an internship this summer? Here are four programs accepting applications now! 

CSAFE REU at Iowa State University

DSPG Young Scholars Program

CSAFE REU AT IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY

REU, or Research Experience for Undergraduates, is CSAFE’s ten-week, immersive summer internship program where students discover how statistical and computational concepts apply to CSAFE’s key research areas in pattern or digital evidence. REU students work toward achieving CSAFE’s core mission of building a statistically sound and scientifically solid foundation for the analysis and interpretation of forensic evidence.

NIST SUMMER UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP (SURF)

CSAFE partner, NIST, operates A summer program called SURF. The SURF program is designed to inspire undergraduate students to pursue careers in STEM through a unique research experience that supports the NIST mission. For 11 weeks, SURF students contribute to the ongoing research of one of the six NIST facilities. Students work under the mentorship of a NIST scientist or engineer.

DATA SCIENCE FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD YOUNG SCHOLARS PROGRAM

The Data Science for the Public Good (DSPG) Young Scholars program is an immersive summer program that engages students from across Iowa to work together on projects that address local and state government challenges around critical social issues relevant in the world today. DSPG resident scholars conduct research at the intersection of statistics, computation and the social sciences to determine how information generated within every community can be leveraged to improve quality of life and inform public policy.

RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES AT CSAFE

CSAFE undergraduate research positions will advance your problem solving, professional communication and research skills. You will work alongside our team of statisticians, scientists, post-doctoral scholars and graduate students on complex and challenging projects in areas such as firearms, handwriting, bloodspatter and shoeprint analysis. These academic initiatives provide future forensic science professionals with hands-on opportunities to learn about the roles statistics and computational analysis play in both research and the field.

Available Resources
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Authors’ Response to Commentary on: Liu Y, Attinger D, De Brabanter K. Automatic classification of bloodstain patterns caused by gunshot and blunt impact at various distances

Type: Research Area(s):

Published: 2020 | By: Daniel Attinger

The Commentary by A. Keten makes the case for considering evaporation and coagulation in research and applications of the forensic discipline of bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA). The author also mentions two important facts: first, blood stains are often present in…

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Does Image Editing Improve the Quality of Latent Prints? An Analysis of Image‐Enhancement Techniques in One Crime Laboratory

Type: Research Area(s): ,

Published: 2022 | By: Brett Gardner

The following was presented at the 74th Annual Scientific Conference of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), Seattle, Washington, February 21-25, 2022

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What types of information can and do latent print examiners review? A survey of practicing examiners

Type: Research Area(s): ,

Published: 2022 | By: Brett Gardner

The following was presented at the 74th Annual Scientific Conference of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), Seattle, Washington, February 21-25, 2022.

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Investigative Leads in Latent Prints: A Comparison of Laboratory Procedures

Type: Research Area(s): ,

Published: 2022 | By: Amanda Wilson

The following was presented at the 74th Annual Scientific Conference of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), Seattle, Washington, February 21-25, 2022.

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Characterizing verification and blind proficiency testing at forensic laboratories

Type: Research Area(s): ,

Published: 2022 | By: Maddisen Neuman

The 2014 Bureau of Justice survey of publicly funded forensic crime laboratories found that while 97% of the country’s 409 public forensic labs reported using some kind of proficiency testing, only 10% reported using blind tests (Burch et al, 2016).…

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Likelihood Ratios for Categorical Evidence With Applications in Digital Evidence

Type: Research Area(s): ,

Published: 2022 | By: Rachel Longjohn

The following poster was presented at the 74th Annual Scientific Conference of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), Seattle, Washington, February 21-25, 2022.

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How do latent print examiners perceive blind proficiency testing? A survey of practicing examiners

Type: Research Area(s): ,

Published: 2022 | By: Brett Gardner

The current study sought to explore perceptions of BPT among practicing latent print examiners and determine whether such beliefs varied between examiners who work for laboratories with and without BPT. Overall, opinions regarding the value of BPT to accurately assess…

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Statistical support for weight of evidence determinations of handwriting evidence

Type: Research Area(s): ,

Published: 2021 | By: Danica Ommen

Handwriting analysis is conducted through the expertise of Forensic Document Examiners (FDEs) by visually comparing writing samples. Through their training and years of experience, FDEs are able to recognize critical characteristics of writing to evaluate the evidence of writership. In…

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Score-Based Likelihood Ratios for Camera Device Identification Using Cameras of the Same Brand for the Alternative Device Population

Type: Research Area(s):

Published: 2022 | By: Stephanie Reinders

Score-based likelihood ratios are a statistical method for quantifying the weight of evidence and have been used in many areas of forensics, including camera device identification1,2,3. Small sensor imperfections caused during manufacturing, called photo response non-uniformity4, leave identifying features, called…

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Forensic Analysis on Cryptocurrency Wallet Apps

Type: Research Area(s):

Published: 2022 | By: Chen Shi

The following was presented at the 74th Annual Scientific Conference of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), Seattle, Washington, February 21-25, 2022.

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Mobile steganography: Looking to the future

Type: Research Area(s):

Published: 2021 | By: Jennifer Newman

Humans have sent secret messages for millennia. A cousin to cryptography, steganography is the art and science of sending a secret message in the open by camouflaging the message carefully. Steganography can take many shapes, and its digital form often…

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Ensemble of SLR Systems for Forensic Evidence

Type: Research Area(s): ,

Published: 2022 | By: Federico Veneri

Score-based likelihood ratios (SLR) have been used as an alternative to feature-based likelihood ratios when the construction of a probabilistic model becomes challenging or infeasible [1]. Although SLR has been shown to provide an alternative way to present a numeric…

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Blind Testing in Firearms Examination: Preliminary Results, Benefits, Limitations, and Future Directions

Type: Research Area(s): ,,

This CSAFE webinar was held on June 23, 2022. Presenters: Maddisen Neuman Quality / Research Associate, Houston Forensic Science Center   Presentation Description: Open proficiency tests created by external vendors are used to meet accreditation requirements and demonstrate examiner competence;…


Surveying Practicing Firearm Examiners

Type: Research Area(s): ,

Published: 2022 | By: Nicholas Scurich

A sample (n = 79) of practicing firearm and toolmark examiners was queried about casework as well as their views about the potential role that statistics might play in future firearm examinations and expert witness testimony. Principal findings include: The…

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Blind testing in firearms: Preliminary results from a blind quality control program

Type: Research Area(s): ,

Published: 2022 | By: Maddisen Neuman

Open proficiency tests meet accreditation requirements and measure examiner competence but may not represent actual casework. In December 2015, the Houston Forensic Science Center began a blind quality control program in firearms examination. Mock cases are created to mimic routine…

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Statistical Thinking for Forensic Practitioners Short Course (Summer 2022)

Type: Research Area(s):

Published: 2022 | By: Hal Stern

Presenter: Hal Stern Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, University of California, Irvine Chancellor's Professor in the Department of Statistics, University of California, Irvine Co-Director, CSAFE Presentation Description: Probability Concepts and their Relevance to Forensic Science is the first session in…


Extracting Case-Specific Data from Validation Studies

Type: Research Area(s): ,,

This CSAFE webinar was held on May 10, 2022. Presenters: Steve Lund Statistical Engineering Division, NIST Hari Iyer Statistical Engineering Division, NIST Presentation Description: The legal and scientific communities agree that any forensic method or algorithm should undergo validation testing…


Shining a Light on Black Box Studies

Type: Research Area(s): ,

This CSAFE webinar was held on April 22, 2022. Presenters: Dr. Kori Khan Iowa State University Dr. Alicia Carriquiry Iowa State University Presentation Description: The American criminal justice system heavily relies on conclusions reached by the forensic science community. In…


Sampling for Forensic Practitioners Short Course

Type: Research Area(s): ,,

This three-session short course took place on March 25, April 1, and April 8, 2022. Recordings of completed sessions and practicum materials can be found below. Presenters: Alicia Carriquiry Director of CSAFE Iowa State University Joseph Zemmels Graduate Research Assistant…


Modeling And iNventory of Tread Impression System (MANTIS): The development, deployment and application of an active footwear data collection system

Type: Research Area(s): ,,

This CSAFE webinar was held on March 24, 2022. Presenters: Dr. Richard Stone Iowa State University Dr. Susan Vanderplas University of Nebraska, Lincoln Presentation Description: This webinar details the development, capabilities and successful deployment of the Modeling And iNventory of…


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