Workshop Instructor and Coordinator
José R. Almirall, Ph.D. Florida International University Show Almirall Biography ►
José R. Almirall, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, as well as the Director of the International Forensic Research Institute, at Florida International University (FIU). He received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland in 1998. Dr. Almirall earned a Master of Public Administration from Florida International University in 1990 and a Master of Science in Chemistry from the University of Miami in 1988. His undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Florida International University was awarded in 1983. Dr. Almirall was a practicing forensic scientist at the Miami-Dade Police Department Crime Laboratory for 12 years, and testified in over 100 criminal cases in state and federal courts relative to his testing results prior to his academic appointment at FIU in 1998.
Professor Almirall has authored one book and over 90 peer reviewed scientific publications in the field of analytical and forensic chemistry. He has presented over 460 papers and workshops and has mentored 17 Ph.D. and 16 Master of Science students in forensic chemistry research. Dr. Almirall’s research interests include the development of analytical chemistry tools for use in forensic science, improvements in the value of trace evidence, and improvements in the detection, analysis and identification of drugs and explosives. Professor Almirall has four patent disclosures and is listed as the inventor of a SPME-IMS interface along with former graduate student Dr. Jeannette Perr and as co-inventor of the PSPME pre-concentration device with former student Dr. Patricia Guerra-Diaz.
Dr. Almirall was the Founding Chairman of the Forensic Education Programs Accreditation Committee (FEPAC) of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Department of Forensic Sciences for the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a Fellow of the AAFS, and serves on the editorial boards of three forensic journals, including the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Professor Almirall serves, or has served, as a consultant to the United Nations, to several U.S. agencies, and to private companies on forensic and analytical chemistry. He is also the co-founder of International Forensic Services, LLC, a company devoted to the improvement of forensic science services globally.
Patricia Guerra-Diaz, Ph.D. Field Forensics, Inc. Show Guerra-Diaz Biography ►
Patricia Guerra-Diaz graduated from Florida International University (FIU) in 2010 with a doctoral degree in Chemistry, and in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a minor in Sociology/Anthropology. Dr. Guerra-Diaz’s undergraduate research was aimed at improving the testing of ignitable liquid residues found at fire scenes, while her Ph.D. dissertation project focused on improving the detection of hidden explosives and illicit drugs by the development and validation of a novel geometry solid phase microextraction device that can be easily coupled to existing drug and explosive detectors commonly seen at airports (ion mobility spectrometers (IMS)).
The invention which resulted from Dr. Guerra-Diaz’s dissertation research is a high surface area sampling device, known as planar solid phase microextraction (PSPME). This PSPME device is coated with a chemical to help collect/absorb the odors emitted from drugs and explosives that can then be directly introduced into the IMS for rapid analysis. Dr. Guerra-Diaz is listed as a co-inventor on the patent which is currently pending on this device. A PSPME device, Forensic Aroma Sensing Technology (FASTTM), is now available commercially from Field Forensics, Inc.™.
Dr. Guerra-Diaz has six peer-reviewed publications in the scientific literature in the field of detection of odor signatures emitted from parent illicit drugs and explosives; with two first authored in Analytical Chemistry and Journal of Separation Science. Her work has been the subject of over 16 presentations at scientific meetings. Some of her awards include the 2009–2010 Dissertation Year Fellowship awarded by the FIU Graduate School, First Place for oral presentation at the Graduate Students’ Association Scholarly Forum both in 2008 and 2009, induction into Sigma Xi (the Scientific Research Society) and the Kauffman Doctoral Fellowship. Dr. Guerra-Diaz is currently a Development Scientist for Field Forensics, Inc.™
NFSTC/NIJ Workshop Liaison
Karolyn L. Tontarski TTW Coordinator, NFSTC Consultant