CSI Reality: Chemistry in the Crime Labs

CSI Reality: Chemistry in the Crime Labs

ACS Webinars: Career Channel

“CSI Reality: Chemistry in the Crime Labs.” A short presentation followed by Q&A with speaker Jason Schaff, forensic toxicologist with the Chemistry Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory. Event moderated by Melissa Smrz, (Ret.) Deputy Director of FBI Laboratory.



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What do a mysterious white powder, a blood smear, and a moldy ham sandwich have in common? To the average person, probably not much, but to a forensic chemist, these items might tell quite a bit about what happened when, where, and why. Despite the mystical cachet of popular TV shows, forensic chemists usually need to be well-versed in the widest possible array of analytical technologies, and must be able to quickly adapt proven methods to new types of samples. Join us to learn the different disciplines within forensic chemistry, and get an in-depth perspective of day-to-day life in a forensic laboratory.  Join live and you may also uncover a new secret…
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What You Will Learn

  • What forensic chemists really do in the lab
  • How forensics differs from and relates to other chemical disciplines
  • For better or for worse, CSI in real life vs. television!
  • Career paths and educational expectations in forensic chemistry
  • And much more…


Webinar Details

Date: Thursday, March 17, 2011

Time: 2:00-3:00 pm ET

Fee: Free


Meet Your Expert


Dr. Jason Schaff has worked for the last eleven years as a forensic toxicologist with the Chemistry Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory. There he analyzes a wide variety of specimens submitted by various federal, state, and local agencies, supporting investigations of product tampering, drug-facilitated sexual assaults, public corruption, suspicious deaths of U.S. citizens overseas, and various other crimes. Dr. Schaff received a B.S. in chemistry in 1991 from Yale University and a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry in 1997 from the University of Minnesota. After completing his doctorate, he spent two years on a fellowship at the Indiana University Medical Center developing methods of analysis for anabolic steroids in an International Olympic Committee-accredited drug testing laboratory.


Meet the Moderator


Ms. Melissa Smrz served as the Deputy Director of the FBI Laboratory from July 2004 until January 2011, where she oversaw the daily operations of two forensic science sections, one operational response section responsible for FBI crime scene and WMD crime scene response, and the section responsible for staffing, budget formulation, research, evidence control and quality assurance and training. She oversaw a staff of nearly 800 employees in 27 units. Ms. Smrz retired from the FBI on January 31, 2011, and is now employed as a Staff Inspector for the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB). Ms. Smrz is a single mother, having adopted her daughter, now 12, from a Russian orphanage in 2000. They enjoy traveling, soccer, basketball, playing with their pet cats and dog, and following Iowa Hawkeye football. 


Additional Resources:

  • Criminalistics: An Introduction to Forensic Science” by Richard Saferstein (This is a broad overview of all forensic sciences, not just chemistry, that would probably be appropriate for a freshman undergraduate audience.)
  • Forensic Chemistry” by Suzanne Bell (Written at a level that is probably appropriate for middle-level undergraduates.)


The Fine Print
ACS Webinars™ does not endorse any products or services. The views expressed in this presentation are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the American Chemical Society.

12 Responses to “CSI Reality: Chemistry in the Crime Labs”

  1. Christina Beatty says:

    Will the presentation be viewable online after that day?

  2. Carrie Lopez says:

    Is there a possibility that this same seminar could be done during the summer? I teach a summer class called Criminalistics: An Introduction to Forensic Science and I would love to integrate a session like this. If not, could this session at least happen at a later time in the day. I teach until 3:15 each day and would love to be a part of this.

  3. admin says:

    Dear Carrie: Thank you for your interest. We are sorry you can not join live and the Q&A. However, the webinar will be recorded and posted on this site. You are most welcome to check back and watch at your convenience.

  4. Carrie Lopez says:

    Thx so much! I will for sure watch the webinar after.

  5. Reese says:

    As with Carrie, I will not be able to join live. Will the recorded webinar require an ACS membership or some type of password? I am an undergrad and would love to watch the seminar as a way of researching future career options. Thanks!

  6. James says:

    Do I have to register if I’m just going to watch the recorded video of it?

  7. Delilah A. Narvaez says:

    Will the CSI Webinar be offered after 5 PM in the future? I teach during the times above.

    Thank you.
    Delilah Narvaze

  8. Krystal says:

    I’m glad this will be recorded and I will be able to watch at a later time since I have class when this is going on. Is there a specific date when it will no longer be available or am I able to access it whenever?

  9. admin says:

    If you access the recorded version by clicking on a link on our webpage, you will be prompted to register. However, if you scroll down, you will see the video clip from YouTube already loaded. Just click and watch and enjoy!

  10. admin says:

    All ACS Webinars are available in a recorded format one week after the live presentation. Please visit us at http://www.acswebinars.org and choose the webinar of your choice under Webinars on Demand. Webinars are also available on YouTube.

  11. admin says:

    If you click on the link on our page, you will be asked to register, however if you scroll down a bit further you will see the YouTube recording. The webinar recordings are posted one week after the live presentation and can be found on our website at http://www.acswebinars.org.

  12. Larry Adams says:

    I watched the webinar with great interestm as I do forensic work.

    Fome reason I have been unable to download and print the speakers’slides.

    Please help me!

    Larry Adams
    Foensic Consultant
    Boone, Iowa
    ACS Member

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