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President’s Message from MAFS to Forensic Scientists

The following article was published in the Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists (MAFS) Spring 2020 Newsletter. Posted here with permission from MAFS. 

Quarantine: to isolate from normal relations or communication 1

Like many of you, I am working from home today and will be returning to the laboratory next week to resume “normal relations”; but only for a few days before I am sent home to catch up on paperwork by remote access. Scientists are considered essential personnel and are expected to report for work via shift work, split schedules and/or remote access in the hope of limiting exposure and maintaining a routine workflow.

This is a big deal. Essential personnel provide services that relate directly to the health, safety, and welfare of the public, ensure continuity of key operations, and maintain and protect society. I want to commend my forensic peers for the actions and the risks you are taking as essential personnel to provide these services to your communities, law enforcement agencies, and the healthcare professions.

This unprecedented event has come with disappointments, both personal and professional. We’re working through the trials and tribulations of homeschooling, canceled sports and extracurricular activities, and the cancelation of our MAFS Spring workshops, committee meetings, and Board meeting.

The pandemic has also presented an amazing opportunity for improvement, appreciation and gratitude. More time to enjoy with our families, catching up on home improvement projects, and taking that big breath that we so often inhale with such haste that it doesn’t fulfill its purpose.

Take this time to improve your work self. Step away from the daily grind of case throughput, and look at the broad scope of the forensic field. Satisfy the need for continuing education and consider how the gaps can be filled in your discipline, your laboratory, and your best forensic scientist.

  • Is there a research project that you can develop?
  • Catch up on journal articles and advances in the forensic field.
  • Prepare a paper or poster presentation for the Annual MAFS meeting in 2021
  • Examine procedures, policies, workflows for their relevance and efficiency (dig into the “because we always have” examinations).
  • Attend on-line courses for instrumentation, techniques, trends, quality topics, bias, ethics, accreditation and auditing, or software programs.
  • Read books on management, leadership, communication, or areas of self-improvement.
  • Listen to the podcasts presented to MAFS by member, Jen Dillon. Jen’s “Ride the Waves” Bonus Podcast, is especially relevant during this time of uncertainty.

Rest assured that the MAFS Board and Committee members are still working for you. We are navigating teleconferences, virtual meetings, and sending endless emails to ensure business is conducted as usual. Stay tuned for new training opportunities, both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, a new website platform, and plans for our 50th Anniversary MAFS Fall Meeting in 2021! Further information can be found throughout our Newsletter.

So, thank you to the remarkable MAFS members out there! It has been an inspiration to see the humanity, servitude, and dedication of the individuals uniting together during this unprecedented time.

If we run out of toilet paper, it may be a different story!

Unhappiness  can  be  like  a  virus  spreading  from  one  person,  to  the  next  person,  to  the  next  one and  so  on.  When  someone  is  mean  or  rude  to  you,  do  not  let  their  unhappiness  infect  your  own life.  If  you  are  the  unhappy  one,  please  quarantine  yourself  so  you  do  not  infect  others! – Jennifer O’Neill,  Soul  DNA:  Your  Spiritual  Genetic  Code  Defines  Your  Purpose

1 Marriam-Webster on-line (2020)

About Brooke Ehlers

Brooke Ehlers is the Director of the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office and Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab. She is currently serving as President of the Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists (MAFS).

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