President and Senior Research Microscopist,
Skip Palenik has had a lifelong fascination with the microscope that began when he received his first instrument at the age of eight. Since then he has devoted himself to increasing his knowledge of analytical microscopy and microchemistry and applying it to the solution of real world problems, especially those of forensic interest. He was fortunate in having worked closely with his mentor, Dr. Walter C. McCrone, for over thirty years and to have studied forensic microscopy with Dr. Max Frei-Sulzer of Zurich, a disciple of Dr. Edmond Locard of Lyon. Skip has been teaching analytical microscopy to industrial and forensic scientists for more than forty years and has published numerous scientific articles and book chapters on the applications of chemical and forensic microscopy. His most recent contribution is a chapter on the use of heavy minerals in forensic science published by Elsevier. He has also played a significant role in numerous criminal investigations including the Atlanta Child Murders, the Air India Bombing, Jon Benet Ramsey case, Narita Airport bombing (Tokyo), Hillside Strangler cases (Los Angeles), Oklahoma City bombing, Ivan the Terrible (Jerusalem), Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King (reinvestigation by U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations), the Unabomber, the disappearance of Helen Brach, The “Kiki” Camarena Murder Case, Steven Avery matter and the Green River Serial Murders. He established Microtrace in 1992 to provide a resource for organizations and individuals in need of scientific services involving the analysis of microscopic trace evidence. His special research interests are the identification of single small particles, small amounts of complete unknowns and tracing dust and soil back to their origins. He is the 2009 recipient of the Paul L. Kirk Award, the highest award given by the criminalistics section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the 2013 Ernst Abbe Award for outstanding contributions to microscopy, the 2013 Edmund Locard Award presented by the American Society of Trace Evidence Examiners, and the Chamot Medal in chemical microscopy in 2010. He is listed in American Men and Women of Science.