Chemistry Professor Michael Sigman is the director of UCF’s National Center for Forensic Science.

UCF Chemistry Professor Leads Discussion at Chemical Weapon Forensics Symposium in Helsinki, Finland

By: Kissimmee Crum on

Chemistry Professor Michael Sigman, director of UCF’s National Center for Forensic Science (NCFS), will be presenting and leading a discussion at an international conference sponsored and hosted by VERIFIN, the Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention, this week.

The symposium is a continuation of a series of meetings held worldwide over the past five years. VERIFIN supports the disarmament of chemical weapons by developing methods to identify chemical warfare agents. Experts in the field from around the world participate in these seminars and workshops focusing on chemical weapons forensics.

The conference is also a culmination of an international round-robin study. The purpose is to examine the level of analytical reproducibility and consistency between labs around the world. NCFS is the only university research laboratory participating in the study. Sigman will be contributing experience and knowledge of how to design databases of analytical results that will be needed to assess the evidential value of chemical weapons samples that are analyzed in different labs. NCFS is home to various databases used by national agencies in their investigations of various crimes. The NCFS analysis for the study was performed by postdoctoral associate Anuradha Akmeemana and research specialist Mary Williams.

“Over the years, I have had incredible students, postdoctoral associates, and colleagues,” Sigman says. “Our participation in the round-robin has been a team effort.”

As an experienced forensic science researcher, Sigman will be leading a tabletop discussion during the workshop to help researchers identify their reporting needs and consider how their forensic reports will be used. It is focused on the statistical basis for setting decision thresholds in reference to the forensic analysis of chemical weapons samples. Sigman will also present “Statistical Forensic Comparison of Chemical Samples for Source Attribution,” during the symposium. The talk covers the application of statistics and subjective logic to understand uncertainty associated with computational models of evidential value.

Sigman will be attending the conference Nov. 30 to Dec. 1 virtually because of the current level three travel advisories for Finland by the Centers for Disease Control and US Department of State.

Sigman’s group at NCFS is currently researching forensic fire debris analysis. The team builds databases of chemicals present in commercial ignitable liquids as well as chemicals formed from partial burning of household furnishings and building material to assist in forensic casework.

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