2014 Department Updates

2014 Forensic Sciences Department NewsletterTo view the full Fall 2014 Forensic Sciences Department Newsletter, click on the thumbnail to the right. For a sampling of individual feature stories and department updates, click on the links below.

Welcome to Four New Faculty
Mehdi Moini
Ioan (Nelu) Marginean
Ira Lurie
Edward Bartick

PhD Candidate Mike Hitchcock

Class Notes


Welcome to Four New Faculty

We are happy to welcome four new faculty to the department during the past year: Dr. Mehdi Moini, Ioan (Nelu) Marginean, Ira Lurie and Edward Bartick.

Mehdi Moini

Mehdi Moini

Dr. Mehdi Moini has joined the Department of Forensic Sciences at George Washington University as an associate professor. Dr. Moini obtained his PhD from the Department of Chemistry at Michigan State University. His dissertation was on the application of photoionization mass spectrometry to isomeric identification of organic compounds.

As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Florida, he continued this work utilizing lasers and FTICR MS. He then joined the Medical Center of GW as a research scientist and worked on the development of new techniques for identification of drugs and their metabolites using GC-MS and LC-MS in conjunction with microwave induced plasma. Later he worked at the University of Texas and Texas State University as the director of the mass spectrometry and proteomics facility, and as a research professor, respectively.

In addition to directing students towards their BS, MS and PhD degrees, in Texas Dr. Moini developed several high throughput micro and nano-scale separation techniques for identification of organic and biological compounds and their structural and optical isomers at attomole levels using state-of-the-art mass spectrometry. Dr. Moini’s research was funded by both industry and federal institutions including Texas Instrument, Beckman-Coulter and the National Institute of Health.

In 2010, Dr. Moini joined the Smithsonian Institution as a research scientist. With support from the National Science Foundation, Dr. Moini studied the mechanism of deterioration and aging of proteinaceous specimens. He also developed several techniques for dating proteinaceous specimens using microgram quantities. Dr. Moini’s research at GW involves nano scale separation in conjunction with mass spectrometry to solve problems related to forensic chemistry and toxicology. His current NSF funded projects involve quantitation of amino acid racemization for the purposes of dating proteinaceous specimens (bone, silk, parchment, wool, etc.); mechanisms of aging and biological clocks; and the use of proteomics for species identification and for linking the presence of microbes to a disease in forensic and historical specimens.

He is also interested in the development of portable instruments for confirmatory, on-site and real-time analysis of emerging drugs, their metabolites and their positional and optical isomers. Dr. Moini has published more than 60 papers and book chapters, and has several patents. His most recent patent which is licensed by Beckman-Coulter and involves interfacing nano-scale separations to mass spectrometry was recently commercialized.

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Ioan (Nelu) Marginean

Ioan (Nelu) Marginean

Dr. Ioan (Nelu) Marginean obtained his PhD from the group led by Dr. Akos Vertes in the Department of Chemistry at George Washington University, where he focused on fundamental understanding of the two most successful ionization methods for mass spectrometry (matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization and electrospray ionization).

His thesis describes a consistent classification of axial electrospray operating regimes based on non-linear liquid dynamics. His research improved the description of the burst and pulsating regimes and unraveled the astable regime, which is an alternative chaotic route between the pulsating and the cone-jet regimes. He tackled the controversial ion formation mechanism during electrospray ionization using molecular dynamics simulations. He also contributed to research revealing the energy transfer during laser-solid interactions.

After post-doctoral training in the Biological Separations and Mass Spectrometry Division at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Dr. Marginean was hired as senior research scientist in the group led by Dr. Richard Smith. The research in the group uses high resolution separations coupled to mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS) to answer relevant biological questions. His focus shifted to analytical applications of low-flow and sub-ambient pressure electrosprays and worked on development and characterization of new technologies (electrospray-based ion sources). He is interested in applications of mass spectrometry in forensic sciences.

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Ira Lurie

Ira Lurie

Dr. Ira S. Lurie is a research professor of forensic sciences. Professor Lurie has a BA in chemistry from Queens College, a MS in chemistry from Rutgers University and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

He recently retired from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) where he served for almost 40 years as a forensic chemist. During his tenure with the DEA, where he served as the agency’s expert in liquid phase separations, Dr. Lurie has co-edited a book, and authored or co-authored seven book chapters and over 60 peer reviewed articles. Professor Lurie has testified more than 40 times in state courts, federal courts and in Singapore. He is fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) and a member of the editorial board of the Open Forensic Science Journal. Dr. Lurie is the winner of the 2015 Paul L Kirk award, the highest form of recognition one can receive from the Criminalistics Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

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Edward Bartick

Edward Bartick

Dr. Edward Bartick is a research professor involved in the development of analytical methods for materials. He completed a PhD in Materials Science-Polymers in 1978 at the University of Connecticut.

He has worked for Perkin-Elmer Corp. and Spectra/Tech, Inc. as a senior infrared spectroscopy applications chemist and has supervised an analytical, materials research group for Raymark Corporation. In 1986, he joined the FBI Laboratory as a research chemist in forensic methods development. In 1991 he started the one-week class, “Infrared Spectrometry for Trace Analysis” for forensic examiners. He acted as research advisor for graduate students from the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and the George Washington University while they worked on forensic vibrational spectroscopy thesis projects at the FBI Academy. In January 2007, Dr. Bartick retired from the FBI to direct the Forensic Science Program at Suffolk University in Boston. He returned to the Washington, D.C. area to join GW in the fall of 2013.

Dr. Bartick has authored 60 technical publications, including 11 book chapters. He was awarded the FBI Director's Incentive Award in 1994 and 1996. In 1994 he founded the Scientific Working Group for Materials Examination (SWGMAT). He chaired the group through 1997 and continued to play an active role as chair of the Database Subgroup until spring of 2014. Dr. Bartick is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, is a member of the American Chemical Society, the Society for Applied Spectroscopy and the American Society of Trace Evidence Examiners (ASTEE). Dr. Bartick’s current research involves the development of statistical significance of class evidence and the development of the use of hand-held optical spectrometers for field applications.

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PhD Candidate Mike Hitchcock

Mike HitchcockMike Hitchcock is from Pickens, S.C., and received a BS in biology from The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. in 1991. He earned his MS in chemistry from the University of Alabama-Birmingham in 1994. Mike then began working with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Montgomery, Ala., where he served as a forensic biologist for six years. Mike then transferred to the forensic drug chemistry section where he served for 12 years in various capacities such as the statewide training coordinator, technical leader and section chief.

In 2012, Mike began working at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service National Forensic Laboratory in Dulles, Va., where he currently serves as a senior forensic chemist. He has been certified by the American Board of Criminalistics as a fellow in drug analysis since 2003. Mike has processed dozens of crime scenes, thousands of cases and has testified over 80 times as an expert in crime scene investigation, forensic biology/DNA, clandestine laboratories and drug analysis. He enrolled in the PhD program at the George Washington University in the spring of 2014 through the chemistry department with an emphasis in forensic drug chemistry. He plans to conduct research in the area of cocaine and heroin impurity profiling by GC/MS under the leadership of his advisor, Dr. Marginean.

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Class Notes

Alan Boehm, MS ’88:
I retired from the U.S. Army CID in 1994 after 22 years in the army and entered federal civil service. Initially I started my federal civil service by setting up an investigative unit in the Office of General Counsel at the U.S. Federal Election Commission. In 1996, I moved to the Office of Inspector General, Corporation for National and Community Service, also known as AmeriCorps, and was the assistant inspector general for investigation when I left for the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Interior in 2004. I held several positions including the director of program integrity and the assistant director of accountability, recovery accountability and transparency board until I left Interior. In 2012, I became the assistant inspector general, Office of Inspector General, National Science Foundation. I am also in my last year as the chair of the General Section, American Academy of Forensic Science.

Adrienne (Desnoyers) Borges, MS ’06:
I started my forensic career at the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory because of the connections I made at GW. I am now working for the Bode Technology Group in the Human Identification Section, helping reunite missing people with their families.

Sergeant Erik Branson, MS ’98:
Currently in his 16th year as a sworn police sergeant with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. and an associate professor at a university in China.

Theresa Beyerle Browning, MS ’96:
In August 1996, I became employed with the Drug Enforcement Administration as a forensic chemist. Eighteen years later I am still with DEA as a senior forensic chemist and an active member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

Julie (Ott) Flanagan, MS ’11:
I am currently a criminalist with the San Diego Police Department in the Forensic Chemistry Unit.

Megan Grimes, MS ’13:
I am participating as a visiting scientist with the Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit at the FBI Laboratory performing research under the support and guidance of a research biologist mentor.

Jason Jurand, MS ’05:
I used my degree in HTCI to establish an analysis program for the DoD intelligence community and a cybersecurity organization for the DoD medical community. I am currently loving life in my hometown Charleston, S.C., and work for the U.S. Navy.

Bryan Donald Laliberte, MS ’03:
I am currently a major in the United States Army, serving at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as a pediatric anesthesiologist.

Elizabeth Lyons, MS ’10:
I am a forensic scientist in the CODIS unit, serving the great state of Michigan.

Michael S. Maloney, MS ’95:
I retired from NCIS and DHS. I am living in Independence, Mo., (just outside of Kansas City). I have authored Death Scene Investigation Procedural Guide and Crime Scene Investigation Procedural Guide with co-author Don Housman, MS ’95 (both published by CRC Press). I continue to be active in the field by consulting, training police departments internationally and holding a series of death and crime scene investigation seminars in the states.

Thomas P. Mauriello, MS ’76:
I am an adjunct professor of criminalistics at the University of Maryland at College Park. I am also the CEO of ForensIQ, Inc., a forensic sciences consultant firm, and I am the host of the webcast TV show, ForensicWeek.com.

Susanna Ringler , MS ’03:
After attending GW, I received my JD from Wake Forest University in 2006. Currently, I am working as a prosecutor for South Carolina’s Second Judicial Circuit.

Samantha Sevilla, MS ’12:
During my second year at GW, I took a position within the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Surgical Innovation as a clinical research associate at Children's National Medical Center (CNMC), focusing on the genetics of childhood obesity, while gaining adjunct positions at Marymount University and the University of Maryland University College. I left my position at CNMC after two and a half years to join Bode Technology, where I am currently employed as a research associate. I also continue to teach courses in forensic biology, genetics and anatomy and physiology to undergraduate students.

J. Stuart Showalter, Esq., MS ’77:
I spent most of my career working as a compliance officer for various healthcare organizations while teaching MHA students on the side. I am retired now, living in San Diego, Calif. I am the author of The Law of Healthcare Administration (7th ed.), and I write monthly articles for a healthcare association.

Gerard Spadaccini, MS ’94:
I am an assistant public defender in Delaware. My practice is focused on the representation of clients in the New Castle County Court of Common Pleas and consulting with my colleagues statewide on forensic science issues.

B.J. Spamer, MS ’04:
I am now a director with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), and I recently began an MBA program in strategic management at the University of North Texas.

Melissa Stangroom, MS ’95:
I was part of the original Forensic Science Student Organization (FSSO) at GW. I was a forensic scientist and then the manager of the DNA Unit at the Maryland State Police Department of Forensic Science for 11 years. I worked with Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals for eight years in cardiovascular, neuroscience and diabetes divisions. I recently joined Life Technologies (formally ABI) to get back to my science roots. I’m a genetic analysis solutions representative with them. It’s a great combination of genetics and sales.

Alberto G. Tohme, MS ’89:
I have my own consulting firm, Tohme Consulting Associates, which offers environmental, scientific and regulatory compliance services to clients in many markets, including oil and gas and petrochemicals, in Houston, Texas.

Derek M. Walley, MS ’00:
I am teaching high school math at a nationally-ranked charter school. In my “spare time,” I am working on super-critical and sub-critical CO2 botanical oil extraction methods. I live with my amazingly talented wife and beautiful daughter in Northern California.

Kathryn Iris Wilson, MS ’11:
I am currently living in Alexandria, Va., and working for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

Stacey A. Wise, MS ’09:
I am currently the latent fingerprint examiner for the United States Police, and have been since February 2010.

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