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Message from the president

Dear Fellow MAFS Members,

At the recommendation of a good friend, I listened to the audio version of Alfred Lansing’s book Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage.  As you guessed, it is about a man named Sir Ernest Shackleton and his ship, the Endurance, which was to deliver Shackleton and crew to Antarctica for the first ever trans-Antarctic journey.  The ship set sail in December 1914, only to be trapped and crushed by ice in October 1915, leaving the crew stranded.  Spoiler alert…the entire crew survives and is rescued by none other than their own captain, Shackleton, in August 1916. 

As I listened to this unbelievable tale, I was in awe of Shackleton’s leadership, but even more so by the teamwork of the crew.  Their personalities did not always jive, nor did they always like the decisions their captain made; however, everyone knew their respective role, strengths, and weaknesses and trusted each other to fulfill their duties.  This was the key to enduring (pun intended) over 20 months in one of the world’s harshest environments. 

“What does this have to do with forensic science?” you ask.  Everything!  Whether you’ve been in the field for one month or thirty years, we each answered the advertisement for employment in a crime laboratory, like how Shackleton’s crew responded to his solicitation: “Men wanted for hazardous journey.  Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness.  Safe return doubtful.  Honor and recognition in event of success.”  Through the interview process, we were selected out of a field of many to fill a role which requires us to perform specific duties.  We were trained so that we would succeed in our roles.  Collectively, we operate as a team, and although our lives are not at stake, the work we do can mean the difference between life and death for others. 

Drawing a parallel between the feats of Shackleton & his crew and our work in crime laboratories is a reminder of how important leadership, teamwork, and passion is to the success of the laboratory as a whole.  Which leads me to ask, what are you doing to keep your passion for your work going?  How are you improving your skills for your role?  How are you contributing to your laboratory team?  Could you do more? 

Should you need some inspiration, consider taking advantage of these under-utilized MAFS resources which are detailed further in the following pages and/or on our website (

  •          Visiting Scientist Program – Receive instruction from a fellow forensic scientist from another laboratory on a technique/instrument you are unfamiliar with and would like to implement.
  •  Research Grant – Apply for funds to conduct forensic science related research.
  •  Ed Rhodes Scholarship – Apply to be selected for a free sitting to take the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) Certification Exam. (Applications are due by April 28th)

Not only are you a part of your organization’s team, but you are part of the MAFS’ team.  Thank you for being a member.  Please enjoy the revised Newsletter format, thanks to the vision and hard work of the Communications Committee. 

Most Sincerely,

Jillian Baker

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