Allison Murtha Laneve Receives 2015 MAAFS Distinguished Service Award


allison_murtha_webAllison Murtha Laneve, manager of RJ Lee Group’s Forensic Science Department, is the Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists (MAAFS) 2015 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. The award is presented to those who show dedication to the organization and the forensic science community. MAAFS encourages the exchange and dissemination of ideas and information throughout the fields of recognized forensic sciences, stimulates the research and development of new and/or improved scientific techniques for forensic applications, and promotes high standards of performance and professional ethics.

Stephanie Horner, Allison’s colleague and a gunshot residue expert at RJ Lee Group, nominated her for the award for her work as the MAAFS Chair of the Meeting Planning Committee. Stephanie was candid on her nomination. “Allison’s been an excellent manager, as well as a personal mentor. She encourages research and welcomes new ideas in the workplace. She has also helped improve the MAAFS organization by taking the lead in planning many successful conferences.”

Stephanie went on to speak of her own appointment as the MAAFS Criminalistics Chair-elect for 2016. “Allison’s involvement in the organization definitely encouraged me to run for Crim Chair. It can be intimidating to run for a position that has been held by such distinguished members of the forensic science community. Allison encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone, and hopefully bring new ideas to the conference.”

Allison attended her first MAAFS Conference in 2009 and was quickly impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the members. She eventually applied for membership, and was admitted to the Society in 2010. Several years later, her background in meeting planning at Duquesne University, her alma mater, came into play, when she became Chair of the Meeting Planning committee.

Allison’s hard work and dedication has helped her achieve her most important goal for the society: to share information and further the field of forensic science. We spoke with her to find out more.

What was your first thought on winning the award?

“I was surprised to find out I’d even been nominated. I was, and still am, completely overwhelmed by such an honor and so thankful to everyone involved. It’s good to know that what I’m doing for our organization is making a difference in some small way.”

What does the award mean to you?

“It means that MAAFS feels that I am dedicated and responsible, and that I can be trusted with the well-being of our organization. Perhaps more than anything, however, it means that I have been fully accepted as a contributing forensic scientist rather than solely as vendor. Although my initial experience with MAAFS was as a vendor, my involvement soon grew beyond marketing and I feel that this award shows that I am appreciated as a scientist in the criminal forensics field.”

How has being a member of MAAFS helped further your knowledge of forensic science?

“MAAFS has helped me to grow immensely as a professional in the field. Every year the MAAFS conference presents innovative research, new analytical techniques, and interesting and informative case studies. Not only have I been able to keep well-informed and up-to-date with what is going on in my area of expertise (trace evidence), but MAAFS also has an established and excellent forensic professionals’ network. Being able to connect with other analysts, professors and experts is an invaluable opportunity.”

How have you used your position as Chair of the Meeting Planning Committee to help further the field of forensic science?

“Besides helping to streamline the planning process for our annual conference, I’ve worked to bring in Keynote Speakers who present on topics that cover a wide range of interests for the group. The forensics science field has many facets, and finding presenters who resonate with a majority of the attendees’ interests can be a challenge. To that end, this year we endeavored to bring in speakers from the National Commission of Forensic Science, which is broken up into six subcommittees: Accreditation and Proficiency Testing, Interim Solutions, Medico-legal Death Investigation, Reporting and Testimony, Scientific Inquiry and Research, and Training on Science and Law. Each subcommittee has a set of goals, usually concerning writing or rewriting tasks and standards, on which they focus each year. The planning committee for MAAFS put together a Plenary Panel of these groups’ representatives to bring everyone in our community up to speed on their particular focus. This helps distribute this information throughout the experts in the forensic science community to keep them apprised of the latest guidelines and regulations.”

What are your plans for the future with MAAFS?

“I hope to continue to chair the MAAFS Meeting Planning Committee for as long as I am able, and to continue to work toward the betterment of our meeting and organization.”

We congratulate Allison on receiving the Distinguished Service Award for her work as Chair of the Meeting Planning Committee, and thank her for taking the time to give us more insight into MAAFS.