Jerusalem - For the first time, the world's most prestigious award in the field of forensic science will be awarded to an Israeli scientist.
The honoree is Prof. Joseph Almog of the Casali Institute of Applied Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and formerly of the Israel Police. He will receive the Lucas Medal later this month at the International Association of Forensic Sciences conference in Hong Kong. It will be presented there by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the largest organization in this field in the world.
The Lucas Medal is awarded once every three years by the American Academy to an individual for "outstanding achievements in forensic science." The award is named for Douglas "Doug" Lucas, the former head of the Institute of Forensic Science in Toronto, one of the leading institutes of its kind in the world. Previous winners of the award were Sir Alec Jeffreys of England, the scientist who developed the application of DNA in forensic science, and Prof. Alan Curry, also from England, a leading figure in forensic toxicology.
Prof. Almog was born in Israel in 1944 and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, followed by postgraduate work in England and the U.S. He then began a long career with the Israeli Police, becoming the first scientist in the Israeli crime lab in 1974, rising to the post of director of the lab. Under his direction, the unit. now known as the Division of Identification and Forensic Science, became a word leader in its field.
In 2000, Almog retired from the Israel Police and became a professor of forensic chemistry at the Hebrew University's Casali Institute of Applied Chemistry.
Almog made his name in the forensic science community mainly in the research and development of new reagents for the chemical development of latent fingerprints. Other topics on which he worked in depth are the detection and identification of explosives and the development of field diagnostic tests for forensic work. Under his guidance, a number of diagnostic field devices have been created and became invaluable tools in crime investigations.
Many of his research projects were carried out in collaboration with crime laboratories in other countries, including the U.S., Canada, the UK, Switzerland, Finland, India, Japan and Australia. He has published over 50 articles on forensic science topics in leading journals in the field.
Almog has been a pioneer in forensic science education in Israel, and many who have studied and worked under his guidance have become leaders in their own fields. Recently he has been appointed head of the scientific committee for counterterrorism technologies for Israel's National Security Council.
Receipt of this medal is a special honor for the State of Israel in general and the Israel Police in particular, said an Israel Police spokesman. His work earned a worldwide reputation for the Israel Police in forensic science, which the police still maintain and which they continue to further, the spokesman added.