Trace evidence is considered one of the most diverse of the forensic disciplines because it can include the analysis of paint, glass, hair, fibers, particulate matter, botanicals, explosives, and impression evidence, among others. While trace evidence is rarely the only evidence available in an investigation, identifying the origin of foreign material found at a crime scene can be a powerful evidentiary finding.

Recognizing the important impact that trace evidence has on criminal investigations and, ultimately, on our system of justice, the Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Laboratory Division co-sponsored a Trace Evidence Symposium held August 3–7, 2009, in Clearwater Beach, Florida. The symposium brought together practitioners and researchers from the United States and abroad to enhance information-sharing and promote collaboration among the trace evidence, law enforcement, and legal communities. The symposium also provided unique educational opportunities for trace evidence examiners.