The Forensic Science Leadership Series
at Cedar Crest College

2019 Workshops

Contextual Bias in Forensic Science.  What it is, how do we detect it, and what can we do about it?

Contextual Bias in Forensic Science.  What it is, how do we detect it, and what can we do about it?

4-DAY Workshop:  May 21-24, 2019

Course Instructors

Presented by Dr. Niki Osborne & Dr. Mark Reynolds


The topic of “bias” and its implications for forensic practice has been hotly debated and researched in forensic and academic circles over the last decade.  The 2009 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report on the state of forensic science in the USA and the 2016 President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report on forensic science recommend that forensic practitioners address issues relating to bias in forensic science and provide evidence to the fact finder that they have done so.

What can attendees expect from the course?

This workshop uses an engaging and innovative mixture of lectures, case examples, and practical activities to educate participants on the theoretical concepts and practical implications of bias within forensic science.  Participants will receive instruction on the various types of bias, how to identify its presence, and how to mitigate its influence.  This includes identifying task-relevant and task-irrelevant contextual information in order to implement appropriate contextual information management strategies and document critical decision pathways.

Who should attend?

This workshop is primarily aimed at forensic science practitioners both scene or laboratory based, especially those involved in the early identification, collection and interpretation of evidence.  It is, however, designed to benefit anyone who produces, uses, or relies upon forensic science for decision-making purposes within the justice system, including judges, district attorneys, defense lawyers and detectives.

Who are Niki and Mark?

Dr. Niki Osborne is a Forensic Research Scientist from New Zealand.  Dr. Osborne spent four years working alongside forensic scientists at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), the agency solely responsible for providing forensic services to the NZ Police.  She has since been a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California Irvine and now conducts training courses throughout the world.  Dr. Osborne’s research is focused on understanding bias and the role of contextual information in forensic evidence interpretation, and she has over thirty peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations on the topic.

With almost 30 years of law enforcement experience, Dr. Mark Reynolds was, until recently, employed by the Western Australia Police as their Forensic Science Consultant and Manager, Quality Assurance.  Dr. Reynolds holds a MSFS and Ph.D. in forensic science.  Coupled with 18 years of practical experience in the use of science to investigate homicides, Dr. Reynolds is well placed to understand and link the theoretical concepts and practical implications of bias within forensic science.

With Niki’s psychology background and Mark’s casework experience, this team brings together a unique and well-considered perspective on issues regarding bias in forensic science.

General Information

The cost of the course is USD $795 per person.  A 15% discount will apply to participants who register and pay in full prior to April 1, 2019.

Sustenance, transport, and accommodation are not included.

All persons with paid registration for the workshop will receive course joining instructions and a comprehensive workbook (PDF Version) covering the content and presentations from the course.

Additional notes:  The workshop will go ahead with a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 40 participants.  The workshop will be confirmed by April 14, 2019.

Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits available.
PA CLE credits – 18.50 S, 3.00 E

This course is under consideration for approval from the Forensic Certification Management Board.

Each participant is responsible for making his or her own hotel reservation. It is recommended to use the hotel listed below.

Course registration deadline is April 21.


Meals and Accommodations

The cost of accommodation, meals and incidentals will be the responsibility of the participant. Lunch is available at the college and restaurants are located within a short walk of the recommended hotel for the course.

The Hyatt Place Bethlehem is the recommended hotel for the course. A discounted group booking rate is available.

Quote G-FABB when reserving a room via phone.

Hyatt Place Bethlehem
45 West North Street
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA 18018
Contact: JoAn Collins
Tel: +1 610 625 0500, Fax: +1 610 625 0503

The hotel offers a free shuttle service that can be booked for travel to and from Cedar Crest College and to the airport.

Course Contacts

All course content questions please send to either Dr. Mark Reynolds,, or Dr. Niki Osborne,

All registration questions please send to