Young Forensic Toxicologists

About the YFT Committee

The "Young Forensic Toxicologists" Committee was founded in 2009 to promote education, networking and interaction among young forensic toxicology practitioners. The YFT Committee will host four activities at the SOFT 2016 annual meeting in Dallas, TX (October 16-21, 2016).

What is Forensic Toxicology?

Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of drugs, poisons, and other chemicals on biological systems. Forensic toxicology is the application of toxicology to issues and cases where those adverse effects may have medico-legal consequences, with results used in court. The forensic toxicologist employs the disciplines of toxicology, analytical chemistry and pharmacology to detect, quantify, and interpret drug findings in a wide variety of biological specimens. The specific role of the forensic toxicologist varies slightly
depending on the specific discipline, detailed below.

Death Investigation Toxicology (Postmortem Toxicology): The forensic toxicologist works with a medical examiner or coroner to determine the contribution of alcohol, drugs, and poisons in the cause of death. Drug identification and quantification are typically performed in blood, urine, or tissue samples. The forensic toxicologist's interpretation of these results helps with the medical examiner's or coroner's determination of the cause and manner of death.

Human Performance Toxicology: The forensic toxicologist investigates the effects of drugs and alcohol on human performance and behavior, and the legal consequences of drug use. Examples of human performance investigations include impaired driving, vehicular assault and homicide, and drug-facilitated crimes. The forensic toxicologist detects and quantifies drugs and alcohol primarily in blood and urine, but alternative matrices like oral fluid and hair are increasingly employed. The interpretation of these drug results should help answer questions about the extent, timing and potentially impairing effects of drug use.

Doping Control: There are many rules governing performance enhancing drug use in sports; these rules are set to protect the health and welfare of athletes, maintain fair competitions, and avoid wagering fraud. Periodic off-season and random on-season drug testing are required for enforcing these rules. The forensic toxicologist tests biological specimens for the presence of stimulants, anabolic steroids, diuretics, and other substances on banned substance lists.

Forensic Workplace Drug Testing: The forensic toxicologist helps test biological samples, typically urine, for prohibited drugs during pre-employment, random, or for-cause drug testing. Samples can come from the general workforce, United States federal employees and contractors, and the U.S. military. Most workplace drug testing is performed in private laboratories, except for the U.S. military.

Additional information can be found in The Forensic Toxicology Council's Briefing: What is Forensic Toxicology?

Interested in a career in forensic toxicology? Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) offers a list of accredited undergraduate and graduate forensic programs.

Join us at the Annual SOFT meeting!

List of Events:

  • The Young Forensic Toxicologists (YFT) Symposium, Sunday Evening (October 16, 2016) 5 pm – 9 pm

The YFT Symposium begins with a social hour where hors d'oeuvres will be served and networking will be encouraged. Next in the agenda are research updates from winners of the 2015 YFT awards and a keynote speaker. Following the presentations the floor will be open to the audience for a friendly discussion of professional experiences and an opportunity to ask questions of fellow toxicologists.

The YFT is excited to announce our symposium speaker, Dr. Raychelle Burks.

Dr. Burks is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry in the School of Natural Sciences at St. Edwards’s University in Austin, TX. She earned her PhD in Chemistry from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Dr. Burks is actively involved in chemistry and science outreach programs, and is the author of the blog Thirty-seven in which she writes about research, teaching, outreach, and the chemistry of pop-culture and crime. We are excited to have Dr. Burks come speak to us this year!

We invite all young forensic toxicologists to participate and extend a special welcome to those who may be attending their first SOFT meeting. The YFT Symposium is free to those pre-registering to attend this event during their meeting registration on-line. All attendees to the YFT Symposium must be 41 years of age or under.

Questions or comments regarding the SOFT YFT Symposium can be emailed to or by visiting our Facebook page.

  • The Student Enrichment Program (SEP), Monday (October 17, 2016) 8 am – 5 pm

The YFT Committee hosts a day long Student Enrichment Program (SEP) targeting undergraduates and graduate students interested in forensic toxicology. Students will learn about various disciplines within forensic toxicology and what knowledge and skills are necessary for this career path from practicing forensic toxicologists. The program is free of charge, but space is limited. Interested students must apply BEFORE September 16, 2016. Download application blank below. Applicants will be notified of acceptance.

Download more information here or the application here

Questions or comments regarding the SOFT SEP program can be emailed to
or by visiting our Facebook page.

  • The Professional Development Fair, Tuesday (October 18, 2016), in the Exhibit Hall during the Welcome Reception

This 28 booth gathering will have representatives of various accreditation and certifying agencies, graduate programs, and laboratories providing information about:

  • Board Certification
  • Continuing Education
  • Professional Training
  • Academic Programs
  • Advanced Degree Programs
  • Career Opportunities

All meeting attendees are encouraged to attend the Professional Development Fair to learn more about the professional development opportunities available to forensic toxicologists. Organizations representing programs offering professional development opportunities may reserve a "no cost" booth for this one night fair by contacting the YFT Committee ( or calling the SOFT Office at 480-839-9106.

  • The "Leo Dal Cortivo Award" competition, Wednesday through Friday (October 19-21, 2016)

The Leo Dal Cortivo Memorial Fund allows the YFT committee to present two awards, each with a cash prize of $1000 in addition to free registration at a future SOFT meeting. One award will be presented to the best poster presentation and the other for the best oral presentation. To be considered for these awards, the presenting author should mark the box on the abstract submission form that they are eligible for the YFT Award. The eligible abstracts with the highest scores, as determined by the YFT committee, will be chosen as candidates for the awards. A person can only submit one entry, either poster or oral presentation, for consideration per year. If multiple submissions are received that author will be contacted and given the choice of which submission they would like to have judged. The presenting author must be less than 41 years old, the first author, and be registered for the meeting. Additionally the presenting author or a co-author must be a SOFT member. Questions regarding the award completion should be directed to

For additional information on Dr. Leo Dal Cortivo, please visit created and updated by his nephew Vincent Fusaro.

Past recipients of the Leo Dal Cortivo Award

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