Forensic archaeology, bomb investigations, computer forensics among topics of URI’s fall Forensic Science Seminar Series

Series to begin with Boston Globe, WPRI Channel 12 reporters discussing investigative journalism

KINGSTON, R.I. – Sept. 8, 2022 – Experts on bomb investigations, forensic archaeology, and cold case investigations are among the speakers for the fall University of Rhode Island Forensic Science Seminar Series, which runs Friday afternoons from Sept. 16 through Dec. 9.

The fall series, which also includes lectures on recreational cannabis legalization, forensic genealogy and expert witness testimony, will be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in Room 100 of the Beaupre Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences on URI’s Kingston Campus. This is the 24th year of the free, public seminar series, which also offers lectures in the spring. See the full schedule.

Those who cannot attend in person may view the lectures live online or at a later date by going to and clicking on the link in the topic section.

“This is the Forensic Science Partnership’s 24th year of providing seminars from experts on topical subjects related to forensic science,” said Dennis Hilliard, director of the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory and co-founder of URI’s Forensic Science Partnership. “We are fortunate to have so many local presenters, especially from the University, and three renowned reporters who will discuss their work in investigative journalism. There are also three well-respected presenters, who will travel to URI to participate in our program. The Forensic Science Partnership represents a model of successful investment in the core chemistry program at URI in close partnership with the State Crime Laboratory, within the College of Pharmacy.”

Schedule of speakers and topics:

  • Sept. 16 – “Investigative Journalism,” Amanda Milkovits of The Boston Globe and Tim White and Eli Sherman of WPRI Channel 12.  Milkovits is a Globe staff writer covering Rhode Island. She has worked as a reporter at New England newspapers since 1993, including nearly 19 years at The Providence Journal covering crime and criminal justice. White is a Target 12 investigative reporter and managing editor. He joined the 12 News team in September 2006. Sherman joined Target 12 in 2019, having previously worked as an investigative reporter for GateHouse Media. He’s also covered economics for Providence Business News and worked as a metro reporter for the Waltham News Tribune.
  • Sept. 23 – “Recreational Cannabis Legalization Issues,” John Malloy, special assistant to the Rhode Island Attorney General.
  • Sept. 30 – “Archaeologist and Repatriation Specialist,” Fiona Jones, of URI’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
  • Oct. 7 – “Bomb Investigations,” Kirk Yeager, the FBI’s chief explosives scientist. He has approximately 25 years of experience with improvised explosives and IEDs, has presented over 200 talks at international meetings and conferences, has produced over 80 specialty publications in the area of explosives and IEDs, including four book chapters.
  • Oct. 14 – “Firearms and Tool Mark Examinations,” Robert Thompson. Thompson has been a senior forensic science research manager with the Special Programs Office-Forensic Sciences at the National Institute for Standards and Technology since 2008. He has more than 40 years of experience as a forensic scientist and criminalist.
  • Oct. 21 – “Investigative Genetic Genealogy,” Cairenn Binder, an investigative genetic genealogist and registered nurse living in Westchester County, New York. Binder first became interested in genetic genealogy as a means to finding biological family after learning her mother was adopted. She began working as a forensic genetic genealogist in 2018 with the DNA Doe Project, contributing to more than a dozen solved cases including victims of serial killers John Wayne Gacy, Keith Hunter Jesperson and Gary Ridgway.
  • Oct. 28 – “Crafting a Defense,” Kara Hoopis-Manosh. As a lawyer, she has dedicated her career to defending the rights of the criminally accused, handling thousands of cases and appearing in every courthouse in Rhode Island. She has been trained by The Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy, The National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, The National Criminal Defense College Trial Practice Institute, and The Defender Advocacy Institute.
  • Nov. 4 – “Computer Forensics,” Victor Fay-Wolfe, a professor of computer science at URI. Fay-Wolfe teaches in the University’s Digital Forensics and Cyber Security Center, which supports state, national, and international public welfare through education, research, training, and service in forensic investigations and securing information systems. The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have selected URI as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education and in Cybersecurity Research.
  • Nov. 9 – “Opiate Crisis and Narcan Intervention,” Anita Jacobson, a URI clinical professor of pharmacy and coordinator of the Pharmacists’ Patient Care Process Laboratories. Her scholarship focuses on pharmacist-patient communication, especially related to vulnerable patient populations and/or conditions associated with stigma, such as mental health and substance use disorders. She is the program director of the Community First Responder Program (, and her clinical practice site is Eleanor Slater Hospital, which is part of the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals.
  • Nov. 18 – “Cold Case Investigations,” Anita Cormier, retired detective of the Pawtucket Police Department. Cormier joined the department as a patrol officer in 1993, making detective in 2005 and working major crimes since 2007. She retired in June. 
  • Nov. 25 – No lecture, Thanksgiving recess
  • Dec. 2 – “Watching Paint Dry,” Otto Gregory. Gregory is a URI distinguished professor of engineering, whose research interests include forensic engineering and chemical sensors for trace detection of explosives. His work has been funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Air Force and Army and the Department of Homeland Security. He developed the “Digital Dog Nose,” a sensor-based device the size of a toolbox that could soon be placed at subway stations, train stations, airports, and ports to detect bombs. Gregory successfully mounted the device on a drone as well.
  • Dec. 9 – “Expert Witness Testimony,” Gil Sapir, a forensic science consultant and attorney in Chicago. He earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and biology from Colorado State University; his law degree from IIT/Chicago-Kent College of Law; and a master’s degree in criminalistics from the University of Illinois-Chicago.