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CSAFE Announces Lineup for Spring Webinar Series

CSAFE Spring 2021 Webinar Series

The Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE) is pleased to announce the lineup for their spring 2021 webinar series. The series begins on February 10 and will continue through April 8. The webinars will give participants an in-depth look at current CSAFE research projects, including handwriting analysis, firearms studies and statistical methods.

The webinars are free and open to the public, but researchers, collaborators and members of the broader forensics and statistics communities are encouraged to attend. Each 60-minute webinar will allow for discussion and questions.

To register for any of these webinars, visit

Each webinar will be recorded and available for viewing later at For questions or more information on the series, contact

Topics and Dates

Treatment of Inconclusive Results in Error Rates of Firearm Studies
February 10, 11 a.m.-Noon CST

Heike Hofmann
Professor and Kingland Faculty Fellow, Iowa State University

Susan VanderPlas
Research Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Alicia Carriquiry
Distinguished Professor and President’s Chair in Statistics, CSAFE Director

In the past decade, and in response to the recommendations set forth by the National Research Council Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Sciences Community (2009), scientists have conducted several black-box studies that attempt to estimate the error rates of firearm examiners. What has received little attention is the actual calculation of error rates and, in particular, the effect of inconclusive findings on those error estimates. In this webinar, Hofmann will revisit several black-box studies in the area of firearms examination, investigating their treatment of inconclusive results.


Handwriting Analysis at CSAFE
March 11, 1-2 p.m. CST

Alicia Carriquiry
Director of CSAFE, Distinguished Professor and President’s Chair, Iowa State University

CSAFE researchers are working on semi-automated methods suitable for closed or open sets of reference writers, and the examination of samples at the level of words or the level of graphical structures. In this webinar, Carriquiry will describe each of the different methods and show initial but promising results. CSAFE has developed an open-source program called handwriter that outputs glyphs, or geometric representations of handwriting. The program is not yet fully functional, but an early version is available at


IRT for Forensics: A Re-analysis of the FBI “Black Box” Study
April 8, 1-2 p.m. CST

Amanda Luby
Assistant Professor of Statistics, Swarthmore College

In this webinar, learn how Item Response Theory (IRT), a class of statistical methods used prominently in educational testing, can be used to measure participant proficiency in error rate studies. Using the FBI “Black Box” data, Luby will illustrate the strengths of an IRT-based analysis over traditional “percent correct” scoring.