News

LLNL weapons engineers and biologists

LLNL weapon engineers, biologists deliver critical samples to identify skin proteins left on IEDs

February 17, 2021

Following a terrorist bombing, can the bomb maker be identified by skin proteins left on the bomb components they handled?

Bacteriophage

Fighting Bacterial Infections with Machine Learning

January 2021

A specially designed algorithm, PHANOTATE, could change the way clinicians treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

Uranium fuel pellet isotopic heterogeneity

Lab analysis reveals forensic signatures of nuclear material during international smuggling exercise

December 17, 2020

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists received mock evidence, consisting of two uranium oxide (UO2) fuel pellets, as part of an international nuclear forensic exercise in support of a simulated nuclear smuggling investigation.

Chemist prepares samples

The Worldwide Effort to Ban Chemical Weapons

November 19, 2020

The Forensic Science Center is an important ally in the international endeavor to prohibit chemical warfare agents.

Synthetic organic chemist in the lab

Lab earns ‘A’ grade in OPCW test

August 27, 2020

Livermore chemists have been taking the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons proficiency tests each October since 2001, with LLNL serving as one of two United States laboratories certified to test for chemical weapons since 2003.

Chemist loads test samples

LLNL an OPCW-designated lab for biomedical samples

August 27, 2020

In addition to maintaining its Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) laboratory designation for analyzing suspect environmental samples, LLNL also is an OPCW-designated laboratory for the analysis of biomedical samples.

Antibody binding to SARS-CoV-2 protein

Lab antibody, anti-viral research aids COVID-19 response

March 24, 2020

Scientists from the FSC are contributing to the global fight against COVID-19 by combining artificial intelligence/machine learning, bioinformatics, and supercomputing to help discover candidates for new antibodies and pharmaceutical drugs to combat the disease.

FSC director Audrey Williams

Forensic scientist wins ‘outstanding’ early career award

February 11, 2020

Audrey Williams, a chemist and the FSC director, is the recipient of the 2020 “Outstanding Early Career Achievement in Forensic Science Award.”

Chemist develops compounds

Nerve-Agent Antidote Shows Great Potential

August 12, 2019

Scientists at LLNL’s Forensic Science Center and Biosecurity Center have formulated molecule LLNL-02, the first molecule capable of dual protection against nerve agents.

Chemist analyzes hair sample

LLNL-led study finds any single hair from the human body can be used for identification

June 18, 2019

Any single hair from anywhere on the human body can be used to identify a person. This conclusion is one of the key findings from a nearly year-long study by a team of researchers from LLNL’s Forensic Science Center and Michigan State University.

Staff cut ribbon to dedicate B151

More than a facelift: Lawrence Livermore’s radiochemistry labs receive extensive upgrades

November 28, 2018

Building 151 is the latest site of extensive renovations to help ensure that scientists, engineers, and support staff carry out LLNL’s mission safely and effectively.

 Former FSC director Brad Hart

S&TR Preview: Forensic Science Boosts Global Security

September 26, 2018

The FSC guides the field toward more objective techniques and data-driven results.

Modern forensic science

The Case for Modern Forensic Science

September 19, 2018

Armed with wide-ranging expertise and analytical capabilities, FSC scientists are prepared for anything that comes through its doors.

LC-MS system

Constant Vigilance in Forensic Science

September 19, 2018

Bruce Warner, Associate Director for Global Security at LLNL, describes the FSC’s contribution to advances in science and technology.

Audrey Williams loads samples

Audrey Williams selected as deputy director for the Forensic Science Center

July 10, 2018

Analytical forensic chemist Audrey Williams will serve as the FSC’s deputy director.

Scientists prepare bone samples

LLNL-led team expands forensic method to identify people using proteins from bones

May 21, 2018

FSC researchers have found a new way to use protein markers from human tissue for identification—this time from bones.

Forensic officers examine UK site

Attacks in UK and Syria highlight growing need for chemical-forensics expertise

April 13, 2018

In the wake of recent chemical weapons attacks, FSC director Brad Hart describes chemical forensic methods that help these international investigations.

Chemist examines samples

Forensic Science Center earns 8th straight ‘A’ in OPCW tests

February 23, 2018

Every October, FSC scientists and those from other laboratories around the world attempt to identify any “suspected” chemical weapons compounds in six samples within a 15-day period in the OPCW proficiency tests.

VX nerve agent

How to defeat a nerve agent

January 5, 2018

Scientists are developing better countermeasures to combat nerve agents. FSC’s Carlos Valdez leads a group working on a potent neutral oxime.

Fentanyl

Why deadly fentanyl is so hard to wipe out

April 3, 2017

FSC scientist Brian Mayer explains the importance of vigilant fentanyl research in light of recent United Nations restrictions on opioid precursor chemicals.

Chemist prepares samples

Forensic Science Center earns seventh consecutive OPCW ‘A’ grade

March 7, 2017

To maintain accreditation, the FSC is expected to achieve high scores on OPCW’s annual proficiency test, averaging two “A” grades and one “B” grade, or better, over a rolling three-year period.

Forensics

Forensic science in crisis: how proteins can help

February 4, 2017

To kick off LLNL’s “Science on Saturday” Education Program series, FSC scientists present a lecture on the challenges of traditional forensic methods and new breakthroughs.

Suspect enters home

Las Positas College announces forensic science lecture

November 3, 2016

The public is invited to attend a free presentation on the topic of “Forensic Science in Crisis-How Proteins Can Help” on Thursday, November 3, 2016.

Chemist analyzes human hair sample

LLNL-led team develops forensic method to identify people using human hair proteins

September 7, 2016

The new protein identification technique will offer another tool to law enforcement authorities for crime scene investigations and archaeologists, as the method has been able to detect protein in human hair more than 250 years old.

DNA sequence and helix models

Has DNA met its match as a forensic tool?

September 6, 2016

LLNL researchers published results of a study—using hairs recovered from 76 living people and 6 sets of skeletal remains from London dating to the 1750s—that shows the promise of hair “proteomics,” or the study of proteins that genes produce.

Lab equipment

FSC receives top grade from OPCW

July/August 2016

Each October, a score of chemists at Livermore’s Forensic Science Center face the challenge of passing the OPCW proficiency tests to maintain their designation as one of its laboratories. The challenge involves identifying the presence of chemical weapons compounds in six samples within a 15-day period.

Protein profile chart

A new role for hair in human identification

July/August 2015

Proteins are chemically more robust than nuclear DNA and can be found in different tissue types, including hair, shed skin cells, bones, and teeth. LLNL forensic scientists and bioinformaticists have teamed up with researchers from Protein-Based Identification Technologies, LLC, to develop the first-ever biological identification method that exploits the information encoded in proteins.

Galt High School students

Students have a ‘mind blowing’ day at the Lab

May 22, 2015

Students from Galt High School's Biomedical, Engineering, Science and Technology (BEST) Academy received a tour of the Laboratory, and Carolyn Koester gave a presentation on the work done by the FSC.

Scientist in the lab

Energy jobs: chemist

October 15, 2014

“Explore lots of different opportunities as you develop your career, and try not to get too fixated on following one specific career path. You never know what new and exciting opportunities may present themselves, so be flexible to change,” says Chinn.

LLNL Global Security director and OPCW director

Lab earns high grade in OPCW proficiency test

April 24, 2014

To maintain their certification, LLNL and other OPCW-designated laboratories must maintain a three-year rolling average of at least two “A” grades and one “B” in ongoing proficiency tests. “As soon as the samples arrive, the clock starts ticking,” Armando Alcaraz says.

Dorsal root ganglia cells

Biosecurity gets a boost with a human-on-a-chip

March 2014

The iCHIP team will collaborate with the FSC to measure tissue response to toxic agents and determine the mechanisms of toxicity. These experiments are the first step toward developing robust and effective medical countermeasures to known chemical agents.

Nobel Peace Prize logo

Livermore scientists part of organization that will receive Nobel Peace Prize

December 9, 2013

When representatives of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, they did so in large measure because of the contributions from 21 scientific laboratories around the world, including LLNL’s Forensic Science Center, which is accredited under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Chemist examines uranium ore concentrate sample

LLNL scientists pioneer the use of established technology for analyzing uranium ore concentrate samples

October 2, 2013

A team of LLNL researchers has pioneered the use of a long-standing technology for a new application—analyzing the chemical composition of uranium samples in the first reported use of near-infrared spectrometry to study the chemical properties of uranium ore concentrates, also called yellowcake.

NMR spectra

Ready to respond to chemical weapons

June 2013

All other FSC activities essentially shut down for the duration of a test. A conference room is turned into a “war room.” Documentation and chain-of-custody requirements are rigorous. In the short time available, the team must execute all analyses quickly, flawlessly, and with perfect documentation.

Nerve agent VX simulation

Breaking down nerve agent behavior

October/November 2012

Among the more dangerous components of humankind’s destructive arsenal, nerve agents are potent chemical warfare agents that, if inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin or eyes, will inhibit the transmission of nerve impulses and swiftly cause death.

Former FSC director Brad Hart

Hart returns to head Forensic Science Center

December 8, 2011

“I like the multi-disciplinary science and the integrating role that the Lab’s Forensic Science Center has undertaken for national security,” Hart said. “The application of new science and technology to real-world operational needs is something that I’m excited about doing here.”