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Workshop: Introduction to Hair and Fiber Microscopy

Thursday, Sept. 22 and Friday, Sept. 23, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
McCrone Laboratories and Classrooms, Chicago

Taught by Nicholas Petraco Sr.

This two-day hands-on microscopy workshop will concentrate on the characterization of common mammalian hair and man-made fibers. Participants will employ stereomicroscopy and polarized light microscopy, including sample preparation techniques for reference collections. The first day will be devoted to the macroscopical and microscopical characterization and identification of common man-made fibers and their generic classes. On the second day, the class will study hair structure and morphology of humans, wild and domestic animal hairs, and furs.

Nicholas Petraco Sr. is an award-winning forensic scientist and consultant with more than 40 years of experience in aiding thousands of criminal and civil investigations, art investigations, and art fraud cases. He has advised or joined thousands of prosecutor and defense attorney death investigations and has given civil or criminal court expert testimony in over 500 trials. Petraco is an expert in paint pigments, binders, resins and finishes, glass, synthetic and natural fibers, human and animal hair, and diverse other materials of interest. His noted authentication work includes the lost 9/11 World Trade Center flag, the Miracle on Ice flag, and the last Jackson Pollock painting. Petraco has received numerous awards, including the State Microscopical Society of Illinois Recipient of the 2020 August Köhler Award for his contributions to the microscopy and forensic sciences, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Criminalistics Section Recipient of the Dr. Paul L. Kirk award for excellence in work and research in criminalistics (2018), and the American Society of Trace Evidence Examiners Recipient of the Dr. Edmond Locard award for excellence in trace evidence work and research in trace evidence (2014). Petraco has also worked for the New York City Police Department as a forensic consultant and a staff senior forensic examiner and detective. He holds an M.S. in Forensic Sciences (Terminal Degree), 1979; and B.S. in Analytical Chemistry, 1974, both from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY.