The American Institute of Forensic education brings together several key faculty who have made substantial contributions to the field of forensic science and forensic medicine through their own disciplines in the sciences.
PAMELA A. ASSID, MSN, RN, CEN, Major, USAFR NC
Pamela A. Assid began her nursing career in 1995 after graduating as the #1 Distinguished Graduate from her USAF ROTC class at Texas Christian University. In 1997, while on active duty with the Air Force, she completed a Master's degree at the University of Wyoming and in 1999, received the Forensic Nursing Graduate Certificate from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. Capitalizing on her forensic nursing education, Pam created the first abuse and neglect protocols for the USAF. After her most recent deployment to the Middle East, Pam transitioned to the USAF Reserve and established her own independent legal nurse and forensic nursing consulting firm, IPR Medical Legal Consulting, LLC.
Pam is a not only a highly respected clinical manager at her civilian hospital, she is also the Chief Nurse for a new USAF Reserve medical squadron. Her numerous distinctions include the USAF Meritorious Service Medal and the USAF Academy's 2006 Individual Mobilization Augmentee Award. She is an active teacher for emergency nursing and disaster preparedness courses within her community and serves on a city council/county commission advisory board related to children and families, specifically offering advice on neglect and maltreatment issues within the local area. She has extensive backgrounds in emergency nursing and critical care.
She has written legal nursing articles for nationally recognized publications such as The Journal of Emergency Nursing and Topics in Emergency Medicine, and has traveled the country lecturing to nursing leadership and management about forensic nursing protocols and standards of care. She is a contributing author for Virginia A. Lynch’s textbook, Forensic Nursing, and, an editor for the Emergency Nurses’ Association revised Core Curriculum. Pam has created and taught online courses including Child Maltreatment, Elder Mistreatment, Basic Evidence Collection and Documentation, and Patterned Injuries through Greenville Technical College.
Pam is an active member of the International Association of Forensic Nurses, the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants, and the Society of Air Force Nurses.
Angela Asaro Geis has been a Registered nurse for over 28 years. Employment roles and responsibilities have included Operating Room and Employee Health Nurse, Case Manager, TB Control Nurse, Home Health Surveyor for the State Of Texas, Research Nurse, and Materials Use Evaluation Specialist. All of these positions have contributed to her acumen in forensic nursing. Geis received extensive training in the application of ethical principles to patient care and nursing practice while serving as a Surveyor for the State of Texas. She has investigated or was involved in reporting: abuse, neglect, exploitation, death, fraud, and unlawful or unethical nurse /healthcare worker practices.
Dr. Besant-Matthews, forensic pathologist, is an internationally renowned expert in forensic sciences and has lectured extensively to clinical and public service personnel on a wide variety of topics including forensic photography. He holds his doctorate in medicine from the University of London and has complete several residencies, including the highly respected Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. Dr. Besant-Matthews has held numerous, prestigious positions in both academic and clinical medicine and serves frequently as both an expert and testifying witness.
He is a member of the Evidence Photographers International Council and serves on its Board of Directors. Dr. Besant-Matthews has written numerous papers on forensic photography and has contributed his work to several important textbooks. He was the recipient of the 1995 Distinguished Fellow Award given by the International Association of Forensic Nurses.
He is a well-known for his advanced skills in forensic photography as well as his ability to translate his knowledge and expertise to novices in an effective and entertaining style.
Laura Billion, is a certified fire investigator, and has over nineteen years in the fire service in various capacities. She received a Masters Degree in Forensic Science from National University, California, Bachelor of Science Degree in Fire Protection Administration from CSULA and UCLA, and an Associate’s Degree in Fire Technology from Rancho Santiago College in California.
She teaches for the Fire Technology Department at Miramar College in San Diego and is an instructor in the Arson Department at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. She serves as an expert witness regarding fire science, motives of fire setters and fire investigation. She is certified as a hazardous materials technician and investigator and serves as a Peace Officer within the State of California. She is a senior evaluator specialist for the Center for Arson Research and teaches fire investigation, psychological motives of fire setters, forensic evidence collection and preservation and interview and interrogation technique classes around the country. Additionally, she instructs the San Diego Police Academy classes on arson and fire investigation. She conducts fire investigations for Regional Reporting Incorporated and is a regular contributor regarding motives of fire setters to NPR Radio, Los Angeles.
She has authored a chapter on Fire Investigation for a college text book entitled, Burns, the Medical and Forensic Model, by Dr. Alan Clark (published Jan, 2006), Junk Science Revisited, Forensic Digest, February, 2010; The Revocation of Junk Science, Forensic Digest, April, 2009; Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers in California, Journal for Public Safety, Homeland Security Foundation of America, March, 2009; Samaritans, Good and Bad, Journal of Public Safety, January, 2010, March, 2009, Plan Your Escape, Journal For Public Safety, Homeland Security Foundation of America, September, 2008.
She is directly involved in forensic organizations such as the International Academy of Forensic Professionals where she serves on its Board of Directors, Academy of Forensic Nursing Professionals, The Working Group on Fire and Explosions, International Association of Arson Investigators, California State Firefighters Association, Greater Los Angeles Arson Area Network, California Fire Chief’s Association of Fire Prevention Officers, the National Fire Protection Association, and is a past Board Member of the California Conference of Arson Investigators.
Robert Blackledge, retired forensic chemist, has been involved with both the practice and teaching of forensic science for well over thirty years. He began his forensic science career in 1971 when he was hired to work as a chemist in the crime lab of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Tallahassee. In 1977 Bob and his family moved to Frankfurt, Germany, where during the Cold War, the United States Army had a crime lab that served its forces in Europe. During an eleven-year period in Europe, Bob honed his expertise in trace evidence, and especially physical evidence related to sexual assaults. Just before the Berlin Wall came down, Bob accepted a position as the Senior Chemist in the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service Regional Forensic Laboratory in San Diego.
Bob has published approximately 40 papers and book chapters in forensic science literature. He is the editor for a book on trace evidence, Forensic Analysis on the Cutting Edge: New Methods for Trace Evidence Analysis. He is a Fellow in the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (Criminalistics Section), and also a member in the California Association of Criminalists, Southern Association of Forensic Scientists, and the American Chemical Society.
Bob lectures for the American Chemical Society. He has a vast background in evidence collection, and one of his many forensic related topics is Glitter as Forensic Evidence. If asked: "Which of your contributions to forensic science have given you the most satisfaction?" Bob would immediately reply that it was his association with the many students that he has mentored as interns in his lab and as their thesis advisor observed as they prepared to embark on a career in forensic science.
Cari Caruso, RN SANE-A, has been a registered nurse since 1974 with experience in emergency department, pediatrics, women's health, GI laboratory and post-surgery. Her introduction into sexual assault began in 1990, in Los Angeles County, at Olive View Medical Center, in the Pediatric Urgent Care. Ms. Caruso has worked in multiple sexual assault units including Los Angeles County, University of California Medical Center Violence Intervention Program, California Hospital Medical Center and Mission Community Hospital. She began a new forensic Program at San Gabriel Valley Medical Center in 2000, and at that time wrote policies, procedures and protocols for this newly established SANE program. Ms. Caruso has trained registered nurses, other medical professionals, legal professionals, sexual assault and domestic violence workers, law enforcement, students, community groups, and has presented at national and international conferences.
She is active in various local community organizations providing her forensic expertise, focusing on sexual assault, domestic/interpersonal violence, cultural and legal issues. She is a charter member of the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), and sits as an advisor on its Board of Directors, Southern California Chapter. She is a member of the California Sexual Assault Investigators Association, Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Council and has served on several committees for the Los Angeles County Sexual Assault Coordinating Council.
Ms. Caruso is President and founder of Forensic Nurse Professionals, Inc. (FNPI), an independent and privately owned center conducting forensic evidentiary examinations for victims and suspects of sexual assault. She also provides consulting services and expert testimony throughout the United States for the prosecution and defense in cases of sexual violence.
Susan Compton began her career in 1985 as a registered nurse. Within the ensuing 28 years, her academic and professional career path encompassed a wide range of leadership specialties within the healthcare system.
Over the years, Dr. Compton has effectively utilized her leadership, communication and interpersonal skills while serving as Director of Clinical Services, Regional Director of Operations, and Chief Operating Officer of various healthcare organizations. As a licensed administrator she has managed skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, hospice, oncology units, and adult residential facilities for the developmentally disabled. Responsibilities included healthcare operations management, financial operations, staff building and clinical services. She is an expert in comparative analysis, ownership, leasing, financing, and the turning around of poor performing healthcare facilities.
In addition to her nursing degree, she participated in a special degree program at Nova Southeastern University where she studied law courses specializing in risk management and regulatory requirements related to CMS and OBRA regulations. Dr. Compton went on to obtain her Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University where she studied relevant courses in healthcare management.
Dr. Compton developed an active clinical nursing role and has served as adjunct faculty professor at Kaplan and Phoenix Universities. She is President of Ardent West Senior Living Management, LLC and Ardent Hospice & Palliative Care.
Cristina Cordeiro is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Psychology and then went on to pursue a graduate degree in Counseling. Cristina graduated from Nova Southeastern University with a Master of Science in Counseling with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis. Her background in the behavioral approach along with her education in the humanistic approach provide her with a unique perspective on behavior and humanity.
Cristina’s career began during her undergraduate studies when she provided behavioral therapy to young children diagnosed with Autism and other developmental disorders. Following her undergraduate years, Cristina expanded her field work with adults as a behavior consultant providing Functional Behavior Assessments, Behavior Intervention Plans, Positive Support Plans and Emergency Behavior Management.
Cristina has served as the Clinical Director for a leading Los Angeles based company providing services to individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities as well as individuals with dual diagnosis and forensic involvement. She has trained staff working in group homes, day programs and independent living services. Cristina has provided lectures and presentations on Autism, Developmental Disabilities, Intellectual Disabilities and Applied Behavior Analysis to teachers, paraprofessionals, psychologists, social workers and other professionals. Her passion is in training and developing other professionals to improve the lives of others through Applied Behavior Analysis.
Kenneth Mills, PhD, workplace violence prevention specialist, is the CEO of Dr. Kenneth Mills Management and Consultancy and a founding executive member of the Board of Directors of The International Academy of Forensic Professionals headquartered in Palm Springs, California. He is also the founding executive director of the Manila Counseling Center, a private psychological counseling service, and Safe Place Manila, an advocacy organization for the rescue and rehabilitation of indigent street children in the Philippines.
His cross-cultural experience with urban stress, human relation issues, business organizational systems analysis, leadership, team building, conflict resolution and workplace violence prevention makes him a sought after consultant, lecturer, instructor and motivational speaker.
Dr. Mills' work often involves collaborating with corporate HR and management professionals to design and implement comprehensive workplace violence prevention programs by writing and adopting policies, implementing procedures and developing strategies for ongoing training.
Dr. Mills serves as an advisor and instructor for the American Institute of Forensic Education (AIFE). His most recent projects include a published article for The Forensic Digest (Spring 2009) entitled Violence in the Workplace. He is presently teaching (1) Workplace Violence: Awareness and Prevention, (2) Workplace Violence: Event Response and Aftermath and (3) Workplace Violence: Bullies and How to Stop Them before Violence Begins.
Dr. Mills attended Gardner Webb University in Shelby, North Carolina, is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and holds advanced degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Danny B. Scalf, human intelligence and national security specialist, has over twenty-five years of progressive experience in management, intelligence and diplomacy. He holds a baccalaureate degree in Political Theory and Asian studies from the University of Maryland, a master's degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Chaminade University, Honolulu, and a master's degree in Community Counseling from the University of Phoenix. His foreign language proficiencies include Russian, Chinese Mandarin, and Bahasa Indonesian. Scalf's demonstrated expertise in cross-cultural communication and negotiations has resulted in a long list of achievements within the military and civilian communities.
In addition to his work within the Department of Defense, he has held numerous positions in business and industry, employing his expertise in risk assessments, forensic investigation and mediation. Scalf's work has resulted in exposing political corruption in a state's law enforcement organization and in confirming the presence of organized crime within business enterprises. In conjunction with the US Customs Service, he developed and implemented a program to identify travel by notorious individuals. As Operations’ Officer within the Army Intelligence Operations, he was the vital force in averting several international incidents that could have resulted in armed conflict or acts of terrorism. Scalf has received numerous awards and decorations for his work with sensitive intelligence operations that were of major significance to national security.
In 1994, he received the Exceptional Human Intelligence Collector Award from the Director of the United States Central Intelligence.
His professional organizational affiliations include Alpha Phi Sigma (Criminal Justice Honor Society), Chi Sigma Iota, (Counseling Honor Society), as well as the Arizona Chapters of the Association of Conflict Resolution and the American Counseling Association.
Patty Seneski, bioterrorism and disaster planning expert, is a pioneer in the field of forensic nursing and is Past-President of the International Association of Forensic Nurses. Her areas of expertise include bioterrorism, sexual assault, and clinical forensic practice. Currently, Seneski holds the title of Emergency Preparedness Manager for Banner Desert Medical Center in the metropolitan Phoenix area and currently serves on the Arizona State Task force on Bio-Terrorism. Past appointments within Arizona include the Emergency Medical Services Council, Emergency Medical Services Board of Director. She was a founder for the Sexual Assault Response Team at Pomerado Hospital, (Poway, CA) and formerly served as an Emergency Nurse Practitioner in Denver, Colorado. She is a respected planner and consultant in bioterrorism, weapons of mass destruction and disaster preparedness, and is widely utilized as a faculty resource for local and regional programs within these areas of specialization.
Seneski received her education at Presbyterian Medical Center (Denver) and Colorado State College in Greeley. Professional affiliations include the International Association of Forensic Nurses, Emergency Nurses Association, the Arizona Emergency Services Association and the Association of Contingency Planners.
Meliss Vessier-Batchen is a certified forensic nurse beginning her nursing career after graduation with her ASN from Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans, LA in 1991. Her education continued at the University of South Alabama where she completed her RN-to-BSN degree in 1993 and returned to embark on a master's degree in nursing education three months later. Dr. Vessier-Batchen began teaching at Charity School of Nursing/Delgado Community College in New Orleans, LA in 1994 while working on her master's, which was completed in 1995.
Her clinical specialty was critical care until 2002 when she became interested in forensic nursing and death investigation. This interest led to secondary employment as a forensic nurse death investigator with the local coroner's office. The phenomena observed by Dr. Vessier-Batchen inspired her to begin a doctoral program in 2002. In 2005, Dr. Vessier-Batchen became a certified forensic nurse. After some interference from Hurricane Katrina, she received her doctor of nursing science degree in 2007 focusing her research on coping and symptoms of complicated grief in survivors of homicide and suicide decedents.
Dr. Vessier-Batchen has worked as a nurse academe since 1994 and a forensic nurse death investigator since 2002 using her experiences from both roles as the catalyst for her doctoral research. She is an assistant professor of nursing at Texas A&M University-Texarkana working with RN-to-BSN and graduate students. She is an active member of IAFN and ACFEI.
Dr. Dian Williams lectures at home and abroad on firesetting, fire bombing and domestic terrorism. She appears regularly in the print and visual media and consults with federal, state and local criminal justice agencies throughout the United States and with the Home Office in the United Kingdom as well as other countries. During the mid-80s, Dian Williams appeared before the U.S. Senate as an expert on juvenile firesetters and violent juvenile offenders. She is a full-time member of the Criminal Justice Department faculty at West Chester University.
Dr. Williams has written a chapter on treatment strategies for firesetters for a forensic textbook published in 2005 and wrote a textbook entitled Understanding the arsonist: From assessment to confession available for sale through her office or Lawyers and Judges Publishing Company. A second, expanded edition of the text is currently underway. A future project involves comparative research on female firesetting behavior in the US and Australia. She is also a column editor on ethics and legal nurse consulting issues for the Journal of Forensic Nursing. In addition to her work on arson, Dr. Williams lectures on ethics in forensic practice for medical, nursing and criminal justice practitioners.
Dr. Williams works as an expert witness (generally for the prosecution) throughout the US. She was awarded the honor of appointment as a Distinguished Fellow of the International Association of Forensic Nurses for outstanding contributions to the field.