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Fields & Applications Forensics, Gas Chromatography, Education

On the Scent

What was your route into analytical science?

I was always interested in science, but I didn’t want to study a subject for its own sake – I wanted to help people. I decided to take forensic science for my undergraduate degree and that’s when I was introduced to analytical chemistry.

What is your current research focus?

I work on a variety of applications of odor analysis. Within forensic science, my primary focus is profiling the odor from decomposing remains. For example, we provide information to organizations who train human remains detection canines (“cadaver dogs”). The dogs are very good at their job but we still don’t fully understand the science behind what they do. By better understanding the subtleties of the odor profiles that the dogs are reacting to, we can boost the value of the evidence (important in the courtroom) and provide useful information to handlers; this information can be used to choose the most appropriate samples for training the dogs, and how those samples should be stored to keep the odor profile consistent.

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