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Forensic Science Research and Development Technology Working Group: Operational Requirements

Date Published
April 4, 2024

The Forensic Science Research and Development Technology Working Group (TWG) is a committee of approximately 50 experienced forensic science practitioners from local, state, and federal agencies and laboratories.

Through the formation of this TWG, NIJ reaches out to the forensic science practitioner community to identify, discuss, and prioritize operational needs and requirements. These needs and requirements help inform NIJ's planned and ongoing research and development activities, and ensure that future research and development investments meet practitioner-driven needs. This is the first phase in  NIJ's research and development process.

The most recent list of needs and requirements has been partially updated based on discussions at sub-group meetings focused on forensic biology, seized drugs, and toxicology, held in 2022. NIJ plans to update of all operational needs for the other listed disciplines in early 2024.  

Disciplines represented by the Forensic Science Technology Working Group include (select a link to learn more about NIJ's work in each area):

Updated Requirements

To view requirements specific to a forensic discipline or focus area, use the search box. We encourage you to download and share printable versions of these requirements -- full list (pdf 12 pages), one-page version with QR code (pdf, 1 page).

See lists of past requirements.

Forensic Science Technology Working Group Operational Requirements (Updated February 2024)
Operational RequirementsForensic Discipline(s)Activity
Enhanced, and cost-effective, development/improvement of technologies and capabilities for visualizing and imaging evidence at the scene.Crime Scene ExaminationPolicy or Protocol Development, Dissemination or Training,
Development of novel, improved or enhanced presumptive tests (rapid, accurate and nondestructive) for evidence analysis and interpretation at the scene and in the morgue/lab. Although, presumptive tests exist, there is always an opportunity for improved, enhanced or novel tests.Crime Scene Examination; Medicolegal Death Investigations; ToxicologyScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Development of a multidisciplinary statistical model (e.g., likelihood ratios for use in personal identification) based on population frequencies of traits (anthropological, friction ridge, radiological, odontological, pathological, biological, etc) to reduce subjectivity in decedent identifications.Forensic AnthropologyScientific Research,
Further research on bone healing rates, at the macro- and micro-levels, and the quantification of healing rate differences by age of individual and by skeletal element.Forensic Anthropology; Forensic PathologyScientific Research,
Difficulty for MDI’s to locate and obtain medical and dental records to assess history and assist in identification of decedent.Forensic Anthropology; Forensic PathologyTechnology Development, Policy or Protocol Development, Database or Reference Collections
Difficulty in locating clandestine graves.Forensic Anthropology; Medicolegal Death InvestigationsScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training,
Enhancement of human identification database systems; current human identification systems could be improved to more efficiently and effectively identify potential decedents/missing persons.Forensic Anthropology; Medicolegal Death InvestigationsTechnology Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Database or Reference Collections
Difficulty in identifying geographical origin of remains. Development of novel methods for determining region of origin and estimating population affinity.Forensic Anthropology; Forensic Pathology; Medicolegal Death InvestigationsScientific Research,
There is a lack of innovation and collaboration with other communities of practice outside of the forensic arena.Forensic Anthropology; Forensic Pathology; Medicolegal Death InvestigationsScientific Research, Technology Development, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training, Database or Reference Collections
Required policies/procedures/activities and standards that do not have a supporting evidence-base to demonstrate benefit or best-practice.Forensic Anthropology; Forensic Pathology; Medicolegal Death InvestigationsScientific Research, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Lack of knowledge about cultural/religious beliefs and practices around death, and treatment and disposition of remains.Forensic Anthropology; Forensic Pathology; Medicolegal Death InvestigationsScientific Research, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training,
The lack of current research in bitemark injury analysis to differentiate human vs animal and adult vs child.Forensic OdontologyScientific Research,
Difficulty in determining the cause and manner of death of infants and children, distingushing between natural, accidental, and non-accidental, in sudden fatal events.Forensic PathologyScientific Research,
Further research studies on force measurement, fracture mechanics, modeling of injuries (to include hard tissue and soft tissue), and/or utilization of advanced imaging technologies to improve accuracy of trauma analysis and quantify error rates associated with trauma interpretation.Forensic PathologyScientific Research,
Difficulty in detecting subtle soft tissue findings of forensic significance (to include deep tissue bruising, tattoos and other soft tissue modifications) on bodies, both living and deceased.Forensic PathologyPolicy or Protocol Development, Dissemination or Training,
What are the comparative outcomes of the extent and quality of death investigation? How does the extent and quality of a death investigation affect the determination of cause and manner of death? Is there an unknown error rate in diagnosis of cause and manner of death due to the necessity to decide field investigation vs. no-field investigation, autopsy vs. not-autopsy, external exam vs. autopsy, impact of full-body imaging, ancillary tests (toxicology, histology, microbiology, genetic, metabolic, and criminalistics), and consultation of forensic experts (e.g. medicolegal death investigator, anthropologist, neuroscientist, etc).Forensic PathologyScientific Research, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training,
Inability to read through hypoxic artifacts in order to identify possible traumatic brain injury in pediatric patients who have been hypoxic for any period of time.Forensic PathologyScientific Research,
There is a lack of information regarding the intention and impact of QA/QC processes in forensic pathology.Forensic PathologyScientific Research, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Impact of death notification and viewing procedures on both MDI practitioners and loved ones is unknown. There is lack of resiliency training and support for MDI staff within this context.Forensic Pathology; Medicolegal Death InvestigationsPolicy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training,
Challenges in collection of reliable, appropriate, well-documented toxicology samples. It is unknown whether the site (e.g. femoral artery vs. femoral vein) and technique (e.g. blind stick vs. cut-down) influences toxicology interpretation based on the results obtained.Forensic Pathology; Toxicology; Medicolegal Death InvestigationsScientific Research, Policy or Protocol Development, Dissemination or Training,
The lack of effective biometric capture techniques and devices for the digital acquisition of decedent data. Effective technologies do exist for biometric capture for living persons, but not decedents, including decedents exhibiting various postmortem artifacts.Medicolegal Death InvestigationsScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training, Database or Reference Collections
Difficulty in determining precise time of death. Further studies of innovative methods or technologies to determine precise time of death.Medicolegal Death InvestigationsScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Potential loss of forensic evidence due to decedent recovery, transport and handling from scene to morgue. What evidence is lost by not performing evidence recovery prior to removal from the scene?Medicolegal Death InvestigationsScientific Research, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Difficulty in recruitment and retention of MDIs.Medicolegal Death InvestigationsDissemination or Training,
There is a lack of training, educational opportunities, and resources within the MDI community.Medicolegal Death InvestigationsDissemination or Training,
Biological evidence screening tools that can address any or all of the following: identifying areas on evidence with DNA, time since sample deposition, detection of single source vs mixed samples, proportions of contributors, or sex of contributors.Forensic BiologyScientific Research, Technology Development, Policy or Protocol Development,
Methods by which to identify areas on a swab with DNA to determine how much is needed for testing prior to beginning extraction.Forensic BiologyScientific Research, Technology Development, Policy or Protocol Development,
The ability to differentiate, physically separate, and selectively analyze DNA and/or cells from multiple donors or multiple tissue/ cell types contributing to mixtures, with minimal or no sample loss. For example, alternative methods of differential extraction with limited sample manipulation (no centrifugation step) and/or automatable sperm capture that can be utilized on existing lab equipment (EZ2, Hamilton, etc.).Forensic BiologyScientific Research, Technology Development,
Improved DNA collection devices or methods for recovery and release of human DNA (e.g., from metallic items).Forensic BiologyScientific Research, Technology Development, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Research that documents the various impacts of methods, reagents, and materials on the recovery, repair, and/or preservation of low-quantity and/or low-quality DNA from various cell types.Forensic BiologyScientific Research, Technology Development, Policy or Protocol Development,
Approaches where elimination or modification to steps from typical DNA processing workflows (e.g., extraction, quantitation, amplification) improves efficiency, increases through-put, and conserves sample while maintain robustness of obtaining a full DNA profile.Forensic BiologyScientific Research, Technology Development, Policy or Protocol Development,
Research to understand the limitations and/or variability of Rapid DNA within a forensic science laboratory in order to inform best practice recommendations.Forensic BiologyPolicy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Alternative ways to enrich or target genomic areas of forensic DNA interest, especially in challenging samples (e.g. rootless hair, burned bone), as opposed to a traditional PCR-based approach.Forensic BiologyScientific Research, Technology Development, Policy or Protocol Development,
The ability to associate cell type and/or fluid with a DNA profile, to include mixed DNA profiles enabling profiles to be reported at source level within existing laboratory instrumentation.Forensic BiologyScientific Research, Technology Development, Policy or Protocol Development,
Mixture interpretation algorithms for all forensically relevant markers, including lineage markers (e.g., STRs, sequence-based STRs, X-STRs, Y-STRs, mitochondrial, microhaplotypes, SNPs).Forensic BiologyTechnology Development, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Machine Learning and/or Artificial Intelligence tools for mixed DNA profile evaluation (e.g., artifact designation, number of contributors, degradation assessment)Forensic BiologyScientific Research, Technology Development,
Improved methods and evaluation of tools for identifying the number of contributors for all marker types (e.g., STRs, sequence-based STRs, X-STRs, Y-STRs, mitochondrial, microhaplotypes, SNPs).Forensic BiologyTechnology Development, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Kinship software solutions using single or multiple marker systems (e.g., STRs, sequence-based STRs, X-STRs, Y-STRs, mitochondrial, microhaplotypes, SNPs).Forensic BiologyScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Statistical tools/methods for combining marker types for weight of evidence estimations.Forensic BiologyScientific Research, Technology Development, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Additional characterization of existing databases and further development of population data of forensically relevant genetic markers (e.g., sequence-based STRs, X-STRs, Y-STRs, mitochondrial, microhaplotypes, SNPs) to include populations that are currently underrepresented in existing databases.Forensic BiologyScientific Research, Assessment and Evaluation, Database or Reference Collections
Development and evaluation of genealogy research tools that support forensic investigative genetic genealogy (FIGG).Forensic BiologyTechnology Development, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Improved methods and tools to understand the limitations and/or variability of probabilistic genotyping software implementation and use that inform best practice development.Forensic BiologyPolicy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training,
Development of methods for database entry, search and match resolution that utilize probabilistic genotyping results.Forensic BiologyTechnology Development, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training,
Research to identify accurate and effective language to communicate likelihood ratios or other probabilistic results in laboratory reports or during testimony that inform best practice development.Forensic BiologyScientific Research, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training,
Guidelines for the formation of likelihood ratio propositions including complex conditioning in order to inform best practice development.Forensic BiologyPolicy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training,
Ground truth data sets across a range of evidence types for source and activity level inferences, and implementation guidance.Forensic BiologyScientific Research, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Database or Reference Collections
Foundational research related to the discriminatory power and sensitivity of alternate biological analyses (e.g., proteomics, microbiome, plants, animals) to associate individuals with crime scene evidence.Forensic BiologyScientific Research,
Research that supports forensic investigative genetic genealogy testing and tree building procedures, policies, and practices by criminal justice organizations to result in a roadmap for practitioners covering QA, workflow, and triage for both tree building and SNP generation.Forensic BiologyTechnology Development, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training,
Comprehensive, systematic, well-controlled studies that provide both foundational knowledge and practical data related to DNA transfer (e.g., primary, secondary), prevalence, persistence, and recovery (TPPR) in the real world, as well as best practices for interpretation.Forensic BiologyScientific Research, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training,
Development of infrastructure to compile and share resources (e.g., theory materials, training plans, training assessment tools, lab created mixtures, raw data files, protocols, validation summaries) for training; assessment and evaluation; and tool development with appropriate human subjects and privacy oversight.Forensic BiologyTechnology Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training, Database or Reference Collections
Research to establish validated methods for quantitation of delta-9-THC, delta-9-THC-A, or combination thereof in edibles, extracts, other cannabis-based products, etc.Seized DrugsScientific Research,
Research to establish validated methods for identification and/or quantitation of cannabinoids (naturally occurring and semi-synthetic, such as delta-8-THC, THC-O, exo-THC, HHC) in plant materials, edibles, extracts, other cannabis-based products, etc.Seized DrugsScientific Research,
Stability studies for THC/marijuana material including plants, edibles, extracts, vape liquid, etc. to include recommendations for storage conditions. At a minimum, such studies should be conducted at a range of temperatures, humidity, and time periods.Seized DrugsScientific Research,
Field test for discrimination of hemp versus marijuana that meets acceptability criteria for evidentiary purposes.Seized DrugsScientific Research, Assessment and Evaluation,
Research into the identification of by-products formed during CBD conversion.Seized DrugsScientific Research,
Creation and inclusion of scientific definition of derivatives as associated with the Farm Bill of 2018.Seized DrugsPolicy or Protocol Development,
Compilation of state legislation nationwide regarding hemp-related definitions (e.g., for hemp, hemp products, hemp derivatives, semi-synthetic, etc.) with the intention to produce best practices for lawmakers’ consideration.Seized DrugsAssessment and Evaluation, Database or Reference Collections
Updated accessible comprehensive continuous training for drug chemists to include current drug trends, testing methodologies, instrumental theories and applications, critical thinking skills, and current applications to the law.Seized DrugsPolicy or Protocol Development, Dissemination or Training,
Prioritization of agencies for adequate externally sourced training and continuing development of drug chemists.Seized DrugsPolicy or Protocol Development, Dissemination or Training,
Expanded auto-sampling capabilities for DART-TOF for increased workflow efficiency.Seized DrugsScientific Research, Technology Development,
Qualitative HPLC-diode array screening method for all cannabis-related compounds.Seized DrugsScientific Research, Technology Development,
Assessment of the operational independence of laboratories managed by law enforcement or prosecutors’ offices and associated effects on public perception, judicial outcomes, impartiality, and freedom from conflicts of interest resulting from financial or other pressures.Seized DrugsAssessment and Evaluation,
Solutions to challenges identifying NPS, such as novel benzodiazepines and opioids, with limited resources (instruments, software, financial, personnel, knowledge of/access to external resources)Seized DrugsPolicy or Protocol Development, Database or Reference Collections
Tools to address expectation of practitioners to definitively render legal opinion regarding scheduling of novel psychoactive substances that are not specifically scheduled by name/class but may meet the criteria.Seized DrugsPolicy or Protocol Development, Dissemination or Training,
Process to assess “structural similarity” and “substantially similar” from a legal standpoint as it relates to analog laws.Seized DrugsPolicy or Protocol Development, Dissemination or Training,
Evaluation of efficient methods of triaging cases and successful case management agreements among labs and customer stakeholders.Seized DrugsScientific Research, Assessment and Evaluation,
Study of interpretation of scientific report and testimony language by non-scientist stakeholders, including juries, attorneys, and the public.Seized DrugsScientific Research, Assessment and Evaluation,
Suggested standardized language for reports, based on data gathered from diverse agencies, to include a glossary of terms to clarify commonly misunderstood words and phrases (e.g., identification uncertainty versus misidentification) to improve written communication with stakeholders.Seized DrugsAssessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training, Database or Reference Collections
Research to determine limitations of GC/MS-only schemes to correctly identify controlled substances and other compounds of interest, to include analogs, as well as suggestions for reporting those limitations.Seized DrugsScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Research to determine optimal GC/MS parameters for drug cases, to ensure low false negative rate.Seized DrugsScientific Research,
Research to determine stability of controlled substances (excluding THC) in relevant storage conditions (e.g., temperatures, humidities, light conditions) in different matrices (e.g., solvents, baby formula, juice, alcoholic and other beverages, food products).Seized DrugsScientific Research,
Research into psilocin/psilocybin and related analogs (e.g, acetylated) to include extraction methods, stability studies, and analysis methods in complex matrices (e.g., gummies, candies, and chocolates).Seized DrugsScientific Research,
Continued development and evaluation of chemometric mass spectral analysis for isomer determination using different GC/MS instruments and methods.Seized DrugsScientific Research,
Improved benchtop NMR analysis to be more in-line with real-world, street-level drug concentrations for determination of novel psychoactive substances/isomers.Seized DrugsScientific Research,
Expanded color testing for novel psychoactive substances to include determination of sensitivity and specificity.Seized DrugsScientific Research,
Research on the correlation of blood and oral fluid concentrations, particularly with regard to DUID and postmortem interpretation, with an emphasis on studies pertaining to pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of drug partitioning into oral fluid. Ensure dissemination reaches policymakers.Forensic ToxicologyScientific Research,
Solutions to interpretation challenges affected by inconsistent and unreliable toxicology results or consolidated toxicology data due to widely variable collection techniques, inappropriate matrix selection, and inaccurate descriptions of specimen collection sites by pathologists, autopsy technicians, hospital phlebotomists, and law enforcement.Forensic ToxicologyPolicy or Protocol Development, Dissemination or Training,
Solutions to challenges in drawing appropriate conclusions from composite toxicology data (e.g., NFLIS, medical examiner/coroner survey) with unstated limitations (e.g., differences in testing regime, scope of analytes, reporting limits) due to unrestricted self-reporting and non-standardized testing.Forensic ToxicologyPolicy or Protocol Development, Dissemination or Training,
Solutions to challenges of implementation and integration of high resolution mass spectrometry in the toxicology workflow (e.g., data storage, interpretation of non-traditional data, appropriate validation parameters, efficiencies in workflow, determination and application of acceptance criteria).Forensic ToxicologyDissemination or Training,
Access to new pharmaceutical and emerging illicit substance analytical standards (to include certified reference materials and isotopically-labeled internal standards) for use in forensic and research laboratories (to include parent drugs and metabolites).Forensic ToxicologyDatabase or Reference Collections
Research into prevalence, concentrations, impairment, toxicity, etc. on new non-delta-9-THC compounds, isomers, derivatives, and metabolites.Forensic ToxicologyScientific Research,
More research and data collection to gain a better understanding of the relevance of novel psychoactive substances, such as (but not limited to) synthetic opioids, cannabinoids, benzodiazepines, and substituted cathinones, and related isomers.Forensic ToxicologyScientific Research,
Basic pharmacology training for forensic toxicologists.Forensic ToxicologyDissemination or Training,
Basic statistics and data analysis training for forensic toxicologists.Forensic ToxicologyDissemination or Training,
Increased understanding of the impact of vaping substances (licit and illicit) and need for vaping paraphernalia collection and testing.Forensic ToxicologyScientific Research, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training,
Research to determine drug stability, in years, at different temperatures (refrigerated, frozen, deep freeze) in different solvents, blood, and other matrices.Forensic ToxicologyScientific Research,
Research on THC concentrations and toxicity, to include cardiac effects, in living subjects, with current THC street potency levels.Forensic ToxicologyScientific Research,
Proof-of concept to support portable, reliable, and robust roadside devices to test for marijuana use and/or measure impairment, including scientific foundation for new or existing devices.Forensic ToxicologyScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Nationwide assessment of reasons for non-adoption (to include root cause analysis) and impact of implementation of ASB standards for forensic toxicology testing.Forensic ToxicologyPolicy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Determination of drug prevalence and relevance in DFC casework.Forensic ToxicologyScientific Research,
Research to determine electrolyte stability in postmortem vitreous fluid for up to a year.Forensic ToxicologyScientific Research,
Error rate studies on qualitative analysis (single tests and schemes), recognizing different contributions of analytical sufficiency, data interpretation, and considering effects of sample suitability. The conclusion of such a study should also explain its limitations. Priority should be given to the most prevalent drugs in casework.Seized Drugs; Forensic ToxicologyScientific Research, Assessment and Evaluation,
Research into scientifically based acceptance criteria of analytical data generated in case samples. The effectiveness of this study could be improved if performed in conjunction with the study for error rate on qualitative analysis (single tests and schemes).Seized Drugs; Forensic ToxicologyScientific Research, Assessment and Evaluation,
Robust, flexible, configurable, cost-effective laboratory information (data) management systems and/or add-on components/modules that allow for data migration from legacy systems.Seized Drugs; Forensic ToxicologyTechnology Development, Policy or Protocol Development, Database or Reference Collections
Evaluation of root causes of occupational stress and their effect on forensic lab work quality, employee well-being and longevity, and organizational health. Development of strategies to mitigate these causes and/or their effects.Seized Drugs; Forensic ToxicologyAssessment and Evaluation,
Tools for effective communication between forensic laboratories and policy makers related to resource allocation, public safety, public health, etc.Seized Drugs; Forensic ToxicologyPolicy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training,
Solutions for attracting and retaining quality forensic science professionals (managers and practitioners), with policy-required education or appropriate experience.Seized Drugs; Forensic ToxicologyPolicy or Protocol Development,
Create selection criteria (e.g., minimum requirements) and test processes for forensic science professionals (including managers), to include evaluation of critical thinking abilities and data analysis skills, in order to attract and retain quality candidates.Seized Drugs; Forensic ToxicologyPolicy or Protocol Development, Dissemination or Training,
Better education for future forensic scientists to include practical, hands-on laboratory experience, critical thinking skills, and communication/public speaking. Increased and improved communication between education service providers and laboratory management to better define requirements and equip graduates for casework, testimony readiness, and the professional workplace.Seized Drugs; Forensic ToxicologyPolicy or Protocol Development, Dissemination or Training,
Forensic laboratory process optimization, which may include: evidence recognition, collection, and packaging on scene, submission acceptance criteria, analysis, data management, and/or reporting, with consideration of future flexibility.Seized Drugs; Forensic ToxicologyScientific Research, Technology Development, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Improved, broader (e.g., scope of analytes, matrices), more challenging (e.g., mixtures, sensitivity), more representative proficiency testing to include some blind testing.Seized Drugs; Forensic ToxicologyAssessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training,
Continued advancement of practical forensic application/development of emerging or current instrumentation and software. A clear case should be made for how new technology either may do something that current technology cannot or may be an improvement over current technology (more sensitive, faster, more cost effective, etc.).Seized Drugs; Forensic ToxicologyScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Access to other forensic laboratories’ methods, SOPs, validation plans, automation workflows, and macros.Seized Drugs; Forensic ToxicologyDissemination or Training,
Creation of a national expert working group of forensic chemists and toxicologists to develop and share comprehensive, cohesive drug-related legislative language (e.g., structural class, per se limits, minimum testing), and to inform and educate legislators and practitioners.Seized Drugs; Forensic ToxicologyPolicy or Protocol Development,
Long-term resources (e.g., capacity enhancement, technical assistance, Daubert packets) for continuous method development, validation, and implementation for laboratories.Seized Drugs; Forensic ToxicologyTechnology Development, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Dissemination or Training, Database or Reference Collections
New foundational data to support the fundamental scientific basis for analysis and conclusionsPhysical & Pattern Evidence; Trace EvidenceScientific Research,
Development and validation of standardized forensic methods and conclusionsPhysical & Pattern Evidence; Trace EvidenceScientific Research, Technology Development, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Evaluation of qualified language of association along the continuum from investigative leads to definitive conclusionsPhysical & Pattern Evidence; Trace EvidenceScientific Research, Policy or Protocol Development,
Accuracy and reliability of forensic examinations and conclusions, including potential sources of error and how examiners arrive at their decisionsPhysical & Pattern Evidence; Trace EvidenceScientific Research, Technology Development,
Practical statistical approaches for the interpretation of forensic evidencePhysical & Pattern Evidence; Trace EvidenceScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Database or Reference Collections
Evaluation of the effectiveness of varied types of review and/or verification of casework, testimony, and investigative leadsPhysical & Pattern Evidence; Trace EvidenceScientific Research, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Novel/improved evidence detection, recognition, visualization, and collection tools and analytical instrumentation for field or lab usePhysical & Pattern Evidence; Trace EvidenceScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Evaluation of the effects of inter- and intra-disciplinary sequential evidence processing and analytical methodsPhysical & Pattern Evidence; Trace EvidenceScientific Research, Technology Development, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Determination of the optimal content and frequency of proficiency tests to evaluate performance and mitigate riskPhysical & Pattern Evidence; Trace EvidenceScientific Research, Policy or Protocol Development,
Understanding of the cognitive processes involved in pattern recognition as applied to forensic comparative analysisPhysical & Pattern Evidence; Trace EvidenceScientific Research,
Replacement of HFE7100 with a non-flammable, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective carrier solvent for latent print development visualization reagentsLatent PrintsScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Quantitative methods to augment visual trace evidence screening and examinationsTrace EvidenceScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Development of a comprehensive extraction method to allow for both DNA and sexual lubricant analysis from a single sampleTrace EvidenceScientific Research, Technology Development, Policy or Protocol Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Understanding the interference of or chemical interaction between sexual lubricants, personal care products, and the human bodyTrace EvidenceScientific Research, Technology Development,
Construction of new and updating of existing databases with properties of manufactured materialsTrace EvidenceDatabase or Reference Collections
Evaluation of non-DNA approaches for human hair screening or comparisonTrace EvidenceScientific Research, Assessment and Evaluation,
Fundamental understanding of how environmental factors can affect trace evidenceTrace EvidenceScientific Research,
Determination of the causes of textile physical damage (e.g., tear, cut, stab, shot, burn) and evaluation of the persistence of damage characteristicsTrace EvidenceScientific Research,
Comprehensive evaluation of the detection and utility of organic gunshot residuesTrace EvidenceScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Identification and characterization of nanomaterials in evidentiary materials or as taggantsTrace EvidenceScientific Research, Database or Reference Collections
Objective and validated methods to classify bloodstain patterns on non-absorbent surfaces by the mechanism of formationBloodstain PatternScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Objective and validated methods for distinguishing spatter from transfer stains on clothingBloodstain PatternScientific Research,
Fundamental understanding of droplet formation, droplet trajectory and the resultant formation of bloodstain patternsBloodstain PatternScientific Research, Technology Development,
Understanding of the creation and obscuration of fire patterns due to ventilation effectsFire InvestigationScientific Research,
Use of AI for identification of important information, hypothesis development and testing, bias mitigation, and repeatability for fire scene analysis of origin and cause determinationFire InvestigationScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Evaluation of methods for origin and cause determinationFire InvestigationAssessment and Evaluation,
Standardized procedures for collecting, preserving and analyzing building system electronic dataFire Investigation; Digital EvidenceTechnology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Field and laboratory techniques for the quantitative measurement of fire patternsFire InvestigationScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Understanding of the effect of materials properties on the development and interpretation of fire patternsFire InvestigationScientific Research, Technology Development, Database or Reference Collections
Tools for fire investigators to evaluate the effects of fuel characteristics on the growth and spread of firesFire InvestigationTechnology Development, Database or Reference Collections
Adequate materials property data inputs for accurate computer fire modelsFire InvestigationDatabase or Reference Collections
Evaluation of incident heat flux profiles to walls and neighboring items in support of fire model validationFire InvestigationScientific Research,
Size determinations from questioned footwear impressionsFootwearScientific Research,
Prevalence/yield of footwear impressions from crime scenesFootwearScientific Research, Database or Reference Collections
Evaluation of the probative value of general wear on outsoles during footwear examinationsFootwearScientific Research,
Determination of relevant populations for the interpretation of class associations in Footwear; Tire Tread impression evidenceFootwear; Tire TreadScientific Research, Database or Reference Collections
Evaluation of Schallamach features on footwear outsoles and their utility for source determinationFootwearScientific Research,
Algorithms for automated searching of make and model of crime scene footwear or tire impressions within a database of known footwear outsole or tire tread patternsFootwear; Tire TreadTechnology Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Database or Reference Collections
Understanding of the variability of dimensional characteristics that occur during the replication of impressionsFootwearScientific Research, Technology Development,
Characterization of footwear and tire impressions made from geologically based materials for selecting appropriate chemical enhancement techniquesFootwear; Tire TreadScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,
Understanding of the morphological variability of the shape of the foot and the resulting shoeless impression [barefoot and socked]FootwearScientific Research,
Understanding of the relationship between manufacturing techniques and the resultant features used for outsole comparisonsFootwearScientific Research, Assessment and Evaluation, Database or Reference Collections
Reference collection databases of handwriting samples, copybook curricula, typewriter and computer font stylesForensic Document ExaminationDatabase or Reference Collections
Quantitative assessment of intra- and inter-person handwriting and handprinting variationForensic Document ExaminationScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation, Database or Reference Collections
Comparative dynamic age dating of documents (inks and paper)Forensic Document Examination/Trace EvidenceScientific Research, Assessment and Evaluation,
Assessment of the comparability of different forms of writing from individuals (e.g., initials, signatures, handwriting, hand printing, foreign writing)Forensic Document ExaminationScientific Research,
Understanding of the kinematics of handwriting and digitally captured signaturesForensic Document Examination/Digital EvidenceScientific Research,
Comparative evaluation of automated handwriting identification systemsForensic Document ExaminationAssessment and Evaluation,
Frequency, terminology, and significance of inconclusive source conclusions in firearms and toolmarks (also applies to friction ridge, footwear, etc.)Firearms; Tool MarksScientific Research, Policy or Protocol Development,
Source attribution of illicit and/or counterfeit pharmaceutical tablets using tool marks from the pill making processTool Marks; Seized DrugsScientific Research, Technology Development, Database or Reference Collections
Optimal methods and materials for the preservation, visualization, recovery and comparison of tool marks in cartilage and boneTool Marks; Forensic Pathology; Forensic AnthropologyScientific Research, Technology Development, Assessment and Evaluation,

Connecting Researchers with Forensic Laboratories

Collaboration between researchers and practitioners can improve the relevance and impact of forensic science research. NIJ encourages researchers to seek and partner with forensic science laboratories and other practitioners. Likewise, we encourage practitioners to work with research partners to help guide the relevance of NIJ funded research.

NIJ has collected a list of practitioner laboratories that are interested in working with researchers. View the list and see how to get on it.

Past Requirements

June 2023 (pdf, 11 pages) 

April 2021 (pdf, 10 pages)

November 2019 (pdf, 9 pages)

November 2018 (pdf, 12 pages)

February 2018 (pdf, 12 pages)

December 2016 (pdf, 12 pages)

September 2015 (pdf, 12 pages)

December 2014 (pdf, 11 pages)

November 2013 (pdf, 11 pages)

Date Published: April 4, 2024