Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists
Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists

Archives - 2010



SWAFS 2010 Scholarship Winner

Chelsea Garrett
Chelsea Garrett
My name is Chelsea Garrett. I grew up partially in Dallas, Texas and currently reside in Houston, Texas. I am a senior at Baylor University where I am soon to graduate with a Bachelors of Science degree in anthropology with an emphasis in forensic anthropology, and a minor in forensic science. Everyone has always asked me how I got interested in forensic science, particularly forensic anthropology. The first question I get is always, “Do you watch a lot of CSI?” In fact, I somehow managed to get interested in the field before I ever heard of the show. Growing up, I wanted to be a doctor but at a strange young age my ambitions switched to becoming a homicide detective – probably because I love asking questions and am naturally inquisitive. I did not want to give up my dream of becoming a doctor so for a while I intended to mesh the two fields and become a forensic pathologist. However, after seeing Skeleton Stories on television, I swiftly fell in love with skeletons, and the idea of piecing together the biography of a human being through their bones. I view bones as the material in which one can figure out so much about a person. Being able to aid law enforcement in identifying an unknown individual and ultimately bringing the family of a lost loved one closure is what draws me to this field. I have interned at two different police departments where I have observed forensic science in action in the lab and in the field. I have only become more interested in forensic science through these experiences yet watch fewer and fewer episodes of CSI. I plan to attend graduate school in the fall in order to hone my knowledge and skills in skeletal analysis. Ultimately, I would love to be a forensic anthropologist in the state of Texas, or wherever my travels might take me.
November 4, 2010

SWAFS Officers 2009-2010

President Photo
Brandy Reese
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
President-Elect Photo
Brandon Conrad
Texas DPS - Amarillo, TX
Chairman of the Board Photo
Chairman of the Board
Michelle O'Neal
Tarrant Co M.E. Ft Worth, TX
Secretary Photo
Kay McClain
Harris County ME's Office - Houston, TX
Treasurer Photo
Steve Valdez
Scottsdale PD - Scottsdale, AZ
Board Member - 1st Year
Board Member - 1st Year
Dan Hedges
Arkansas State Crime Lab
Board Member - 1st Year
Board Member - 1st Year
Sarah Skiles
Tarrant Co M.E. Ft Worth, TX
Board Member - 2nd Year
Board Member - 2nd Year
James Jackson
Harris County ME's Office - Houston, TX
Board Member - 2nd Year
Board Member - 2nd Year
Tamara Keller
DEA - Dallas

SWAFS 2010 Annual Meeting and Training Conference

September 20-24th, 2010

Grapevine, Texas
Great Wolf Lodge


We owe much of our success to You!!!

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SWAFS 2010 Vendors

 February 5, 2010

SWAFS Board of Directors has the distinct pleasure of announcing the 2009-2010 SWAFS Journal Editor, Richele Theodore Howelton. The Journal is a huge undertaking, as any former Journal editor can attest, so please do all you can to make her job easier...send in those articles! Don’t have time to pen an entire article? Write up an interesting testimony, unusual case or ingenious technique. All of you that have posted questions on the Yahoo! Groups site, consider sending Ms. Howelton your question posed and the answers you received. Have you done a poster or technical presentation at a recent conference? You are more than halfway to a Journal publishing! Write it up and send it in! Be proud of your work and share it with your peers.

Deadline for submissions to be included in this edition of the Journal is March 1st, 2010. Remember, submissions to the Journal earn points toward membership promotion. You could be a Distinguished member before you know it!

You may send submissions to Richele at: image of email address

Photo of Richele Theodore Howelton, SWAFS Journal Editor

December 17, 2009

Please join the SWAFS Board of Directors in congratulating James Garcia as the recent Zotter Award winner.

Photo of James Garcia, Zotter Award Winner

Letter from the president

Fresh from a SWAFS conference, I am renewed for another year. The sense of camaraderie is so present when SWAFS members gather, it is like coming home. Though this year other Associations participated as well, the tight-knit group of SWAFS was easy to spot. It is from these connections and interactions that we grow as people as well as scientists.

The talent and knowledge pool that we represent is tremendous. It is imperative that we share that talent and knowledge. As luck would have it, there are so many exciting opportunities to serve. Whether that is submitting an article or technical note for the Journal, assisting with website updates, reviewing membership applications or serving in some other capacity, find your passion and let it shine. Service is the truest form of leadership and SWAFS is a leader among forensic Associations. I challenge you to find your niche.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Brad Rogers, Lee Garrett and Jill Dupre for their service and leadership on the Board this past year. I also warmly welcome Brandon Conrad to the office of President-Elect, Sarah Skiles and Dan Hedges to the Board of Directors, and Steve Valdez to the office of Treasurer. I’m inspired to see the new faces of SWAFS and excited about the new ideas that will be offered.

I garner a great deal of professional and personal satisfaction from SWAFS and my peers within the Association. I am humbled and honored to serve this Association that has given me so much.

I look forward to seeing you next September at conference in Grapevine, Texas!


Brandy Reese

Election 2010

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BOD Photo
Marie Chance
Senior Criminalist
LAPD-SID Crime Lab
Los Angeles, California
I have been a member of SWAFS since 1993 and have enjoyed attending every meeting since then. I was especially impressed with the friendly atmosphere of the meetings and the willingness of the more experienced members in sharing their expertise with me since I was a newcomer to the field, only discovering forensics in June 1991. Previously I had used my Chemistry degree from Washington University in St Louis in the bio-medical research fields. At LAPD/SID I have been in Tox, Field, and currently Narco. I have been fortunate to unofficially help on the audits and as liaison to AAFS, have served on the Long Range Planning committee, and was co-chair and chair of the Membership Committee for the three years during the transition from paper to the fully computerized and split committees. I would welcome the opportunity to serve on the Board, to continue the fine programs in addition to promoting new ideas.
BOD Photo
Chris Boydstun  [Elected]
Senior Criminalist

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
Tahlequah, Oklahoma
I received my Bachelor of Science in Chemistry in December, 2000. I have been employed by the OSBI in the Northeast Regional Lab in Tahlequah since July, 2001. My area of expertise is in drug identification, analysis, and clandestine laboratory processing. I have been a regular member of SWAFS since January, 2004. It is a great organization, fostering networking with others in the forensic field. All of the members of SWAFS are so willing to share their knowledge and answer any questions or tackle any problems other members have. It seems that whatever question anyone may have, someone jumps right in with the answer. I really enjoy the fact that the workshops given during the annual conference are not limited to people working in that discipline. I think this encourages people to become more diverse, gaining knowledge from other areas of the forensic science field.

I am honored to be nominated for the Board of Directors. If elected, I plan to serve with the dedication and integrity that I have witnessed from prior board members. I look forward to the challenge and privilege of serving SWAFS.  
BOD Photo
Benny Lum  [Elected]
Broward Sheriff’s Office Crime Laboratory
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
My name is Benny J. Lum and I am currently working as a Criminalist in the drug section at the Broward Sheriff’s Office Crime Laboratory in Fort Lauderdale, Florida since February 1999. I have been a member of SWAFS since 1986.

I have a B.S. in Biology from Eastern Michigan University in 1973 and a Master’s in Forensic Science Administration from Oklahoma State University in 2009. I am a Fellow with the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) in chemistry and a Certified ISO ASCLD/LAB inspector. I am also a registered chemist and Medical Technologist through the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

I worked as a Criminalist in Chemistry, Serology/DNA, and Clandestine Labs with the Arizona Department of Public Safety in Tucson from November 1987 to January 1999 and prior to that I worked as a Criminalist in Serology, Chemistry and Breath Alcohols with the Tucson Police Department Crime Laboratory from September 1985 to November 1987.

My goals for SWAFS are to maintain focus on the enrichment of the knowledge base within the organization. I would like to give back some of my time to the field that allow me to gain so many colleagues and friends. I think my experience in the various laboratory systems and insight as an inspector would allow me to contribute to the board. I want to help the newer members in view of all the problems that the Crime Laboratories are facing. I think as a board member we can strive to keep SWAFS as a strong organization.
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President Elect Photo
Pamela J. McInnis  [Elected]
Lab Director
Pasadena Police Department Crime Lab
Pasadena, Texas
• Laboratory Director – 13 years
• Active Serologist, Crime Scene Investigator, Instructor
• Co-Author of Ethanol Fluorescein Procedure
• 27 years forensic experience

SWAFS ACTIVITIES: Distinguished member, By-Laws 1993-94,  Asst. Journal Editor 1992-94, Membership Committee 1994-96,  Membership Chair 1996-98, Workshop Instructor 1995, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2009, Scholarship Committee 2010

OBJECTIVE: Forensic Science has become very challenging in the past few years. SWAFS must provide leadership on what path we, as forensic scientists, should follow. This organization must take a stand and become the leading professional organization refocusing on morals, ethics, and integrity. This is accomplished through training and communication.

It is imperative that SWAFS continues to provide updated training. It is, however, just as important to provide the “basics”. It is vital that beginning forensic scientists know and understand the evolution of forensic science. Understanding the science can eliminate mistakes and help solve many of the problems that exist today.

SWAFS should also provide a forum in which open debates on accreditation, methodology, and DNA issues, just to name a few, may be heard. More round table discussions should be available for laboratories to share successes, failures, and problems, as well as, information and procedures.

SWAFS is a very prestigious professional organization. It can and should take a more active role in the development of forensic science and scientists. Training and communication will not only enhance each member, but also, enhance the organization.

President Elect Photo
Scott Vajdos
Forensic Chemist II

Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences
Houston, Texas
Mr. Scott Vajdos received his B.S. degree in chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin in 2000, followed by a M.S. degree in Pharmacy in 2007 from the University of Florida. Mr. Vajdos worked with the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab in Waco, Texas for three years as a controlled substance and clandestine laboratory analyst. He joined the HCIFS in June 2007. Mr. Vajdos is certified as a Fellow in Drug Analysis by the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC), and as a clandestine laboratory responder by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Mr. Vajdos is a member of the Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists (SWAFS) and the Clandestine Laboratory Investigating Chemists Association (CLIC). Mr. Vajdos was also selected to join the Scientific Working Group for the Analysis of Seized Drugs (SWGDRUG) in 2010, where he serves on the education and training subcommittee.

Ethical violations are far too common in the forensic science field. Over the next few years, I'd love to see SWAFS take a more active role in addressing this problem.
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Secretary Photo
Kay McClain  [Re-Elected]
Forensic Chemist I
Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences
Houston, Texas
Kay McClain is a Forensic Chemist I in the Controlled Substance Laboratory at the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences in Houston, Texas. She has been employed with the HCIFS since 2001. Kay worked in the Toxicology department for 1 year and then she transferred to the Controlled Substance Laboratory where she has been for the past 8 years. She serves as the Quality Control Liaison for the CSL as well as a senior chemist and assistant to the CSL manager. Kay received a Bachelor of Science from Sam Houston State University in 1996. She is certified as a Fellow in Drug Analysis with the American Board of Criminalistics. Kay has been a member of SWAFS since 2005 and serves as the current Secretary of SWAFS.

My name is Kay McClain and I am running for a second term as Secretary of SWAFS. The past two years as Secretary have gone by so fast and there is still so much more I would like to accomplish. One of the main goals I have been working on as Secretary is organizing all of the past meeting minutes and documents to be compiled electronically for easier storage. I have also enjoyed working with the other board members to make sure our members are recognized for all that they do to contribute to our organization. As an 8 year forensic chemist and a member of SWAFS since 2005, it would be an honor to serve you again and the organization. Please take the opportunity to cast your vote and include me on your ballot.