SOFT Continuing Education Workshop
SWGTOX Standard Practices for Method Validation in Forensic Toxicology/Advanced Excel Operations
June 25-26, 2015

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Click here to download the registration form.

The first part of this workshop is on method validation.  Validation is the process of performing a set of experiments that reliably estimates the efficacy, reliability, and reproducibility of an analytical method.  The goal of conducting validation experiments is to establish evidence which demonstrates that a method is capable of successfully performing at the level of its intended use and to identify the method’s limitations under normal operating conditions. 

A survey of the literature finds there are numerous approaches used to demonstrate that a method is “valid”, yet they differ in their level of thoroughness.  This suggests that some approaches are insufficient while others may be overly rigorous.  The Scientific Working Group for Forensic Toxicology (SWGTOX) has developed minimum standards of practice for the validation of analytical methods used in forensic toxicology. 

This workshop will present a review of basic statistical principles, including an in-depth look at regression analysis for quantitative analyses.  Examples and exercises will be provided to help demonstrate how to apply these practices in everyday laboratory methodologies.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Present a statistical review to help the attendee better understand how to best evaluate validation data. 
  2. Instruct attendees on the minimum standards outlined by SWGTOX.
  3. Provide the attendee with guidance on how to implement these practices into their own laboratories.


Marc A. LeBeau, PhD, D-ABFT, Senior Forensic Scientist, FBI Laboratory, Quantico, VA
Sue Pearring, BS, Senior Criminalist, LA County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, Los Angeles, CA

The second part of this workshop is designed for users of Excel.  This workshop is intended for those already proficient in Microsoft Excel software and who desire to further their application of the software in a laboratory setting. The workshop will provide hands-on training for the following applications:

Paperless transitions – forms, tracking, protection
Control charts – importing/exporting data and charts, customization with control limits
Method validation – importing/exporting data, data streams within a spreadsheet, organization and presentation of resultant data

Learning Objectives:

  • To expand on attendees’ existing knowledge in Excel to yield greater confidence, technical competence and increased efficiency.
  • To enable attendees to maximize Excel for work in the forensic laboratory using various tools, functions, formulas and add-ons.
  • To demonstrate the capability of Excel in various laboratory applications:

Transition of paper trails to paperless documentation
Creation and maintenance of control charts with useful visuals and statistics
Calculation, organization and presentation of method validation data
Statistical analysis of curve-fitting data as part of method validation

  • Work through real-world data sets using the tools learned in the workshop.
  • Work through attendee-specific questions with hands on assistance.


Sue Pearring, BS, Senior Criminalist, LA County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, Los Angeles, CA

These workshops will be co-sponsored by the Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT) and the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office. It will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 25-26, 2015.

The cost is minimal for both SOFT members ($50) and those that are not members of SOFT ($65).  To register for the workshop, please complete the registration form found at  Transportation to and from the training academy will be the responsibility of the attendee. The commute is a short cab ride.  Attendees for the Excel portion of the workshop are expected to bring their own laptop computer.   Please note, registration closes on June 5, 2015.  There will be no on-site registration for this workshop.

Training Venue:

Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Training Academy
9225 S 68th St, Franklin, WI 53132
(414) 525-5700

Suggested Lodging:

Staybridge Suites   Estimate about $80/night
9575 S 27th St, Franklin, WI 53132

La Quinta Suites   Estimated about $67.50/night
4171 S. 13th street Oak Creek

For more information, please contact Sara Schreiber, Toxicology Director, Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Forensic Science Education through RTI

The Center for Forensic Sciences at RTI International supports the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Victims of Crime and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in developing and delivering online education for forensic scientists and managers.

Although frequently unable to attend regional or national meetings, practicing forensic professionals must stay current with best practices in their fields. RTI's online courses give forensic professionals access to a wide variety of subject matters with impressive depth and applicability. Each instruction module contains approximately one hour of instructional content and is delivered on-line to facilitate course attendance and completion. The rich content courses are delivered in a live setting, in addition to on-demand, self-paced instruction. Upon completion, attendees receive a certificate of completion.  Where appropriate, RTI's courses are accredited.

For more information about course availability, visit website.

Forensic Science Continuing Education Tracks at West Virginia University

The Forensic Science Initiative program is completely online, and offers a number of courses for professionals working in forensic toxicology.  Courses include Fundamentals of Forensic Toxicology, Forensic Mass Spectrometry, Perspectives in Expert Testimony and Ethics in Forensic Science.

For more information about course availability, visit website.

International Symposium on Forensic Science Error Management – Detection, Measurement and Mitigation

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is planning to host the International Symposium on Forensic Science Error Management: Detection, Measurement and Mitigation from July 20-24, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

Organizers are planning the meeting around several tracks:

  • Criminalistics and Digital Evidence;
  • Legal and Human Factors;
  • Crime Scene and Death Investigation; and
  • Lab Management and Quality Assurance.

The symposium will consist of combined plenary sessions and breakout lectures, poster sessions and panel discussions.

For more information, visit website.