A Local Organizing Committee including the following industry experts has been assembled.
Christian Westring, PhD
Dr. Westring is the Director for the Center for Crime, Forensics, and Security Analysis at Purdue University Northwest. Through his passion for molecular biology and complex problem solving, he applies new innovations in the field of forensic science to advance public health and safety. His professional experience includes leading multisite laboratory systems in forensic Biology, Chemistry, Toxicology, Firearms and Tool marks, Latent Prints, and Crime Scene Investigation.
In addition to his duties at Purdue University Northwest, he has also held several academic positions in forensic genetics, including – Arcadia University, and the University of Copenhagen – teaching formal course work in forensic genetics, molecular biology, serology and proteomics. He received research training in molecular biology at Penn State University’s Department of Natural Sciences (BS), the University of Denver department of Biological Sciences (PhD), and the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Forensic Medicine, Section of Forensic Genetics. He currently has an active research and development program and is a contributing member to several professional organizations in forensic science including OSAC, ISFG, and ASCLD.
Heather McKiernan, PhD
Congress Vice President
Heather E. McKiernan is an experienced forensic researcher, academic, and practitioner. She has a BS in Biology from Bucknell University, an MS in forensic science from Arcadia University, and a PhD in cell and molecular biology from the University of Denver. She has worked in academia, serving as the Interim/Assistant Director for the master’s program in forensic science at Arcadia University and Director for the master’s program in forensic biology at Thomas Jefferson University.
Dr. McKiernan also worked for over 10 years at the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education, where she served as Director. In this role, she worked to optimize laboratory processes involving development and evaluation of new analytical testing, oversaw biological research initiatives and product evaluations, developed business relationships with external vendors and academic institutions, developed organizational strategic plans and managed the development of on-site and distance learning courses. In addition to these appointments, Dr. McKiernan serves as a private forensic biology consultant and is currently an NIJ funded research scientist working in the area of forensic proteomics and genetic proﬁling of challenging sample types. Dr. McKiernan is a member of many professional organizations in forensic science including the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), the International Society of Forensic Genetics (ISFG) the Biology Data Reporting and Interpretation DNA subcommittee of the Organization of Scientific Area Committee (OSAC) formed by the US National Institute of Standards, and the Council of Forensic Science Educators (COFSE). In recognition of her contributions to the ﬁeld, she was elected President of COFSE in 2012.
Toni Diegoli, PhD
Toni Marie Diegoli is currently a Forensic Biologist with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Forensic Science Laboratory, where she performs forensic casework and conducts various research projects. Toni began her tenure as a forensic practitioner after having spent much of her career as a research scientist focusing on novel assay development and the application of new technologies to challenging sample types. From 2015 until 2017, Toni worked with the Office of the Chief Scientist at the Defense Forensic Science Center, focusing on efforts to advance next generation sequencing for forensic use and emerging methods for body fluid identification. Before that, Toni was part of the Emerging Technologies Section at the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory for 10 years. During that time, she supported several mitochondrial DNA databasing projects funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and later received an NIJ grant award to characterize short tandem repeats on the X chromosome for forensic use. Toni holds a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University, a Master of Forensic Science from George Washington University, and a Ph.D. in Forensic Genetics from Flinders University. She has been a member of the International Society for Forensic Genetics since 2011, and has participated in four previous World Congress meetings.
Mechthild Prinz, PhD
Mechthild Prinz is professor and the director of the Master in Forensic Science Program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. She earned a MS in Biology from the University of Cologne and a PhD in Human Biology from the University of Ulm, both in Germany. Prior to joining John Jay, Dr. Prinz worked as a forensic geneticist and laboratory director performing, and later supervising, paternity and criminal casework for the Institute of Legal Medicine of the University of Cologne and the Oﬃce of Chief Medical Examiner in New York City. She has more than 30 years of casework and research experience in forensic DNA analysis including Y-STR typing and mass disaster victim identiﬁcation. Dr. Prinz is a former board member of the International Society for Forensic Genetics and has served on the FBI Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis methods and the Biology Data Reporting and Interpretation DNA subcommittee of the NIST OSAC. Her current research at John Jay College deals with optimization of analysis and interpretation for DNA contact traces.
John Butler, PhD
John M. Butler is an internationally recognized expert in forensic DNA analysis and holds a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of Virginia. He has written ﬁve textbooks on Forensic DNA Typing (2001, 2005, 2010, 2012, and 2015) and given hundreds of invited talks to scientists, lawyers, and members of the general public throughout the US and in 25 other countries. Dr. Butler’s research, ﬁrst conducted at the FBI Laboratory and now at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), pioneered the methods used today worldwide for DNA testing in criminal casework, paternity investigations, and many DNA ancestry procedures. He has been honored in multiple White House ceremonies for his work in advancing DNA testing. In 2011, ScienceWatch.com named him the world-wide high-impact author in legal medicine and forensic science over the previous decade. He has received the Gold Medal (2008) and Silver Medal (2002) from the US Department of Commerce, the Scientiﬁc Prize of the ISFG (2003), and the Paul L. Kirk Award from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (2017). Dr. Butler is a NIST Fellow (high scientiﬁc rank at NIST) and Special Assistant to the Director for Forensic Science and serves as the Vice-Chair of the National Commission on Forensic Science.
Nikki brings a lifetime of hospitality passion to her role with ISFG. At a young age when others were playing sports or dolls with the neighborhood kids, Nikki was playing waitress, taking orders and serving her family meals in her restaurant The Scented Candle, which had locations in her mom’s Colorado backyard and Grandma’s Pennsylvania kitchen. Since then, she began college pursuing a degree in Criminology and Forensic Science but ultimately graduated with a degree in Hospitality, Tourism, and Events from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Nikki began her adult career with Marriott International, before moving to the planner side and opening her own company, Bibbero Meetings and Events. Nikki is currently on the Meeting Professionals International Rocky Mountain Chapter Board of Directors as the President-Elect. She holds certificates as a Certified Meeting Professional and Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate. She has been honored as one of Smart Meeting Magazine’s 2021 Smart Women in Meetings Industry Leader and Colorado Meetings + Events 2019 Up-And-Coming Meeting Professional. Outside of work, she loves to enjoy all of the outdoor activities Colorado has to offer, travel often, and drink great wine.