Loyola University Chicago

Forensic Science Program

Archived Seminars

The field of Forensic Science faces continual challenges and responds by developing new investigative techniques. Our Forensic Science Program at Loyola University Chicago strives to meet this rapidly changing environment by educating our students in innovative ways. To this end, we present our Forensic Experts Seminar Series featuring professionals who will present their work on current topics, ranging from DNA and drug analysis to the investigation of digital evidence.

Here is a sampling of seminars that have been held at Loyola University Chicago in previous semesters.‚Äč

To request further information please contact Dr. James DeFrancesco, jdefrancesco@luc.edu.

John T. Dziedzic
Director - Federal Bureau of Investigation Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory (Chicago, IL)
Topic: "Digital Evidence Forensics and the Chicago Regional Computer Forensics Program"

Mr. Dzeidzic will be discussing law enforcement challenges in handling digital evidence, providing real-life experiences, and an overview of collecting evidence in the field to processing in the laboratory.
Mr. Dziedzic is a 19 year veteran of the Cook County Sheriff's Police Department. In 2006, he was detailed to the FBI's computer forensics laboratory, the Chicago Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory (CGRCFL). He attained his FBI CART (Computer Analysis Response Team) certification in 2007 and has since analyzed over 1000 pieces of digital media in support of hundreds of criminal investigations. He has testified in both state and federal court as an expert witness in the field of digital forensics. In February 2009, he was appointed Laboratory Director of the CGRCFL, a position he currently holds.

Date/Time: March 18, 2016, at 3:45PM
Location: Quinlan Life Science Center, Rm 142


Patrick J. O’Dea
Field Intelligence Manager – US Drug Enforcement Administration (Chicago, IL)
Topic: "DEA Analysis Punching Above Our Weight: Managing Increased Responsibilities with Diminishing Resources"

Mr. O’Dea will be discussing the challenges facing DEA Intelligence Analysts in the investigation of increasingly sophisticated drug trafficking operations.
Mr. O’Dea joined DEA in 1992 as an intelligence analyst assigned to the Strategic Domestic Unit at DEA Headquarters. During the six years he worked in this unit, Mr. O’Dea monitored and analyzed nationwide drug trafficking and abuse trends, and he produced numerous intelligence publications covering a wide array of drugs, including crack cocaine, heroin, LSD, and PCP. In 1998, Mr. O’Dea was transferred to the DEA Chicago Division Office and was assigned to support the Heroin Investigations Group. In this capacity, Mr. O’Dea supported the group’s numerous investigations of Colombian and West African heroin traffickers. In 2000, Mr. O’Dea became the first Intelligence Group Supervisor in the DEA Chicago Field Division (CFD) and was given the responsibility for managing the CFD’s Strategic Intelligence Group and serving as the Federal co-manager of the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Investigative Support Center. In 2008, Mr. O’Dea was promoted to be the CFD’s first Field Intelligence Manager, and now is responsible for overall management of the Intelligence Program in the CFD, which covers the states of Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Mr. O’Dea holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland.

Date/Time: April 1, 2016, at 3:45 pm
Location: Quinlan Life Science Center (Rm 142)



Laura A. Ciolino, Ph.D.
Forensic Chemist – US Food and Drug Administration Forensic Chemistry Center (Cincinnati, OH)
Topic: "Marijuana Substitutes: Plant Materials Laced with Synthetic Cannabinoids"

Dr. Ciolino will discuss her current work involving plant products laced with synthetic cannabinoids. Synthetic cannabinoids are a diverse group of compounds which may mimic the effects of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive constituent in the marijuana plant. The laced products are sold over the internet, in specialty stores, or on the street and frequently consist of foil packs containing loosely packed plant materials. Quantitative analysis of the synthetic cannabinoid content in these products is necessary to address questions of exposure and toxicity when the products are smoked or consumed. Our laboratory developed a broadly applicable HPLC-UV method for the determination of synthetic cannabinoids in plant materials. The method was validated for several structural classes of synthetic cannabinoids including dibenzopyrans, cyclohexylphenols, naphthoylindoles, benzoylindoles, phenylacetylindoles, and tetramethylcyclopropyl-indoles. The presentation will highlight aspects of analytical method development in a forensic laboratory.
Dr. Ciolino has been a research chemist with the Food and Drug Administration’s Forensic Chemistry Center for the past 22 years. Prior to FDA, her chemistry career included product development/analytical positions with both the Drackett Company and Procter and Gamble. She earned her B.S. in Chemistry from Xavier University in 1983, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati in 1989 and 1992. Her work with the Forensic Chemistry Center involves the design, development, validation, and application of analytical/forensic GC-MS and HPLC-UV methods for drugs, controlled substances, active constituents, phytochemicals, and poisons in drug, pharmaceutical, plant, dietary supplement, and food-related products. She has developed and validated analytical methods for nicotine and related alkaloids in tobacco products (1994-1999), GHB and GBL in clandestine drug products (2001 – 2006, collaboration with DEA), PAHs in seafood (2010 BP oil spill), and synthetic cannabinoids in plant based materials (2012 – 2015). Dr. Ciolino is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, has 16 publications in peer-reviewed journals, and holds three US patents.

Date/Time: April 8, 2016, at 3:45 pm
Location: Quinlan Life Science Center (Rm 142)


Kara Stefanson
DNA Resource Specialist - Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (Chicago, IL)
Topic: "Forensic Biology and DNA Analysis"

Ms. Stefanson will define what is meant by Forensic Biology and DNA analysis and will discuss the goals and evaluation of crime scene evidence for testing. Types of samples in criminal cases and the basic methods for testing will be described. The use of the DNA database to provide information in unsolved cases will also be explored.
Ms. Stefanson holds degrees in Forensic Science and Criminal Justice, both from Michigan State University. After graduation in 1992, she accepted a position as staff serologist for the DuPage County Sheriff’s Department Crime Laboratory in Wheaton, Illinois where she analyzed evidence from criminal investigations for the presence of blood and other body fluids. In 1998, Ms. Stefanson accepted a management position in Forensic Biology and DNA with the Illinois State Police Forensic Science Center at Chicago where she supervised, and mentored approximately 10 forensic scientists. Throughout her forensic career, Ms. Stefanson has committed to providing training in the field of Forensic Biology and DNA Analysis to law enforcement officers, emergency room personnel and trial attorneys. She has trained over 2000 members of these target groups, and has participated in the Sexual Assault Response Teams (SART) for Kane, DuPage, and Cook counties in Illinois. In 2004, Ms. Stefanson was asked to join the team of prosecutors for Cook County where she provides assistance with DNA related issues and conducts foundational training in Forensic Biology and DNA Analysis for the criminal prosecutors assigned to the County.

Date/Time: April 22, 2016, at 3:45 pm
Location: Quinlan Life Science Center (Rm 142)

Printer-friendly poster of Forensic Experts Seminar.



Will Taylor
DEA Special Agent
Topic: "Clandestine Drug Laboratory Investigations: From Methamphetamine to Fentanyl and the Associated Challanges for Forensic Chemists and Law Enforcement"
SA Taylor will be discussing the unique circumstances associated with clandestine drug laboratory investigations and seizures, including the necessary working relationship between forensic chemists and law enforcement personnel for safe and successful investigations. SA Taylor joined the DEA as a Special Agent in 2003 and is currently assigned to the Chicago Field Division Office. SA Taylor has been assigned to enforcement groups that have focused on a variety of drug and money laundering investigations. These investigations have included heroin, cocaine, pharmaceutical drug diversion, money laundering, synthetic drugs, and clandestine drug laboratories. Specific to clandestine drug laboratory investigations and the associated chemicals hazards, SA Taylor is the office Clandestine Laboratory Coordinator and has received various training certifications to seize and process clandestine drug laboratories. SA Taylor has been involved in a variety of synthetic drug production investigations, to include methamphetamine, phencyclidine (PCP), synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones. During these investigations, SA Taylor has worked jointly with forensic chemists, both on the scene processing the lab and during the subsequent follow-up investigation. SA Taylor has provided First Responder Training and Advanced Clandestine Drug Laboratory Investigation training to over 2,000 law enforcement officers in the Chicago Field Division’s five-state area. SA Taylor has been certified and testified as an expert witness in Federal court regarding methamphetamine production. Additionally, SA Taylor is an Assistant Team Leader with the DEA Special Response Team (SRT), which is deployed for high risk arrest and search warrant executions.
Date & Time: November 16, 2016, from 7:00 - 9:00PM
Location: Cuneo Hall, Rm 003

Printer-friendly poster of the Will Taylor Seminar.

Ponni Arunkumar, MD
Interim Chief Medical Examiner—Chicago, IL
Topic: "Forensic Pathology and the Recent Rise in Opioid Overdose Deaths in Cook County"
Dr. Arunkumar has 13 years of forensic pathology experience. She has conducted close to 6,500 postmortem examinations, and testified in court and depositions more than 150 times. She was appointed to her current post in June 2016. From 2012 to 2016, she served as the Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for Cook County. Prior to that, she was an Assistant Medical Examiner in Cook County.‌‌
Dr. Arunkumar is a board certified anatomic and clinical pathologist with specialization in forensic pathology. She is on staff at RUSH university, University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University. She has presented at various national conferences and published articles in the field of forensic pathology. Dr. Arunkumar is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the National Association of Medical Examiners, the College of American Pathologists and the American Society for Clinical Pathology.
Date & Time: November 30, 2016, from 7:00PM
Location: Cuneo Hall, Rm 116


Printer-friendly poster of the Ponni Arunkumar Seminar.