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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Director of R.I. crime lab at URI elected president-elect of regional forensic association

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

KINGSTON, R.I. -- February 28, 2005 -- The director of the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory at the University of Rhode Island has been elected president-elect of the Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists.

Wakefield resident Dennis Hilliard, who is also a founding coordinator of the University of Rhode Islandís interdisciplinary Forensic Science Partnership, is the associationís first president-elect from Rhode Island. Hilliard began his duties in early January.

The organization has 550 members from throughout New England, New York, New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.

Hilliardís primary duty as president-elect is to plan and coordinate the associationís 31st annual meeting, which will be held Nov. 8 through Nov. 13 at the Hyatt Regency in Newport. More than 200 forensic scientists are expected to attend the program, which includes workshops, research presentations and the groupís annual business meeting. In January 2006, Hilliard will be installed as the associationís president for 2006.

Two of the highlights of the weeklong program will be an educatorsí forum for high school teachers and a young scientists forum for high school and college students. The goal with both forums is to expose teachers and students to the many aspects of science that relate to forensic investigations.

Among the research and workshop topics will be drug chemistry, toxicology, trace evidence, forensic biology and document examination.

ďThe association, through its annual meeting, provides an educational forum for forensic scientists throughout New England,Ē Hilliard said.

Appointed the interim director of the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory in 1992, he was named permanent director in 1995. He has been active with the regional organization since the late 1980s.

When Hilliard took over the crime lab in 1992, he was the administrator and lone scientist. During his tenure, Hilliard has been awarded numerous federal grants for major equipment upgrades and he has been the driving force behind filling two vacant positions in the laboratory and the addition of four new forensic scientist positions.

Hilliard also played a major role in the founding of the URI Forensic Science Partnership, which has brought together such URI disciplines as chemistry, computer science, engineering and textiles to conduct research on the state, national and international levels. The partnership has done research projects for the FBI, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, as well as local police agencies.

The Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists is based in Connecticut and its purposes include the exchange of ideas and information within the field of forensic science, and the fostering of friendship and cooperation among laboratory personnel.

The association also encourages a high level of competency among professionals in the field of forensic science, and it promotes recognition of forensic science as an important component of the criminal justice system. More information on the Association can be found at: www.neafs.org.