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.


Michael L. Van Linn, Ph.D.

Drug Science Specialist - Diversion Control

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington, D.C.

Topic: "DEA's Regulatory Response to the Evolving New Psychoactive Substance Market"

Dr. Van Linn will be discussing the trends and challenges of new psychoactive substances (NPS) on the illicit drug market and their impact on public health and safety and the regulatory response to protect the public.   Recent case studies and the scheduling process under the United States Controlled Substances Act will also be discussed.

Dr. Van Linn is a Drug Science Specialist in the Diversion Control Division, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). His professional responsibilities include collecting and evaluating data on newly emergent psychoactive substances and other substances of misuse and abuse.  Dr. Van Linn’s analysis and recommendations inform policy decisions and routinely Dr. Van Linn is called upon to provide expert testimony in Federal court.  Dr. Van Linn is actively monitoring the introduction of NPS with a special emphasis on synthetic opioids such as fentanyl analogues.  He routinely collects information from public health and law enforcement officials to evaluate these substances for possible control under the United States Controlled Substances Act (CSA), if warranted.  Also, in his scientific advisory capacity, Dr. Van Linn provides technical support and training to special agents, investigators, forensic scientists, and senior management on drug misuse and chemical diversion issues and provides guidance to industry regarding compliance with regulatory requirements.

Prior to employment in the Diversion Control Division at DEA headquarters, Dr. Van Linn was employed by DEA at the North Central Laboratory (Chicago, IL) as a Forensic Chemist.  Preceding employment in the Federal government, he was employed at Cambridge Major Laboratories (now Alcami Corporation) as a research scientist where he developed robust synthetic pathways for pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing.  Dr. Van Linn conducted post-doctoral research at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry (2009) from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology (2004) from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. 

Date & Time: March 23, 2017, at 5:15 p.m.
Location: Cuneo Hall, Rm 312, Lakeshore Campus


Deborah Zvosec, Ph.D.

Research Associate - Hennepin County Medical Center and Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation—Minneapolis, MN

Topic: "Drug-facilitated Sexual Assault:  A Case-based Presentation of Clinical, Toxicological and Legal Perspectives"

Dr.  Zvosec has conducted clinical research on health effects of gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and its analogs since 1999, including toxicity, lethality, addiction and withdrawal, GHB-intoxicated driving, and GHB-facilitated sexual assault.  She has provided expert testimony on clinical effects of GHB/analogs in federal and state cases, hearings and grand jury proceedings and has consulted on a wide variety of drug-facilitated sexual assault cases involving GHB/analogs, benzodiazepines, and alcohol.  Dr. Zvosec obtained her M.S. and Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology, conducting bio-behavioral research on infectious diseases.  Subsequent focus on health impacts of GHB/analogs led to integrative research with Emergency Medicine physicians, toxicologists, and Medical Examiners.  She has presented research and lectured in the US and Europe to diverse medical professionals in fields of Emergency Medicine, Addiction Medicine, Internal Medicine, Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Clinical Toxicology, and to medical and legal professionals in fields of Forensic Toxicology, Forensic Pathology, and law enforcement. Dr. Zvosec currently works with the Department of Emergency Medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she conducts and coordinates research projects on GHB/analogs, DFSA, and other clinical topics.  

Date & Time: March 30, 2017, at 5:15 p.m.
Location: Cuneo Hall, Rm 311, Lakeshore Campus

Nelson A. Santos, M.P.A.

Deputy Assistant Administrator

US Drug Enforcement Administration – Washington, DC

Topic: The DEA Laboratory System


Mr. Santos will provide an overview of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Laboratory System.  He will discuss the laboratory system’s structure and organization, areas of responsibility, analyst’s duties, and basic training for forensic drug chemists.   

Mr. Santos serves as a Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  In this capacity, he leads the largest de-centralized forensic science laboratory system in the U. S. federal government consisting of over 550 scientific, technical, and administrative personnel.  He began his career in 1987 as a Forensic Chemist in Miami, Florida and has held supervisory and managerial positions in Miami, Chicago, and Washington, DC.  He has lead significant efforts to enhance DEA laboratory system operations to include implementing a system-wide laboratory information system (LIMS), developing and implementing DEA’s first centralized training program for forensic chemists, and reorganizing drug research activities and functions.  Throughout his career, Mr. Santos has been active in the national and international forensic science community holding several key leadership positions in prominent organizations.  He served as the vice-chair for the National Commission on Forensic Science from 2013-2017. From 2010 to 2013, Mr. Santos served as the Chair of Interpol’s Forensic Science Symposium Committee.  He was the DEA member-representative to the White House Subcommittee of Forensic Science and served for five years as Chair of the Scientific Working Group for the Analysis of Seized Drugs (SWGDRUG).  Mr. Santos Chaired the Council of Federal Forensic Laboratory Directors (CFFLD) for three years, and from 2004 to 2006 he served on the Board of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD).  He remains an active member of ASCLD, American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Forensics Committee and Interpol’s Forensic Science Managers Organizing Committee.   Mr. Santos holds a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Florida International University and a Master’s in Public Administration from George Mason University. 

Date & Time: March 27, 2018, at 5:30 p.m.
Location: McCormick Lounge - Coffey Hall, Lakeshore Campus