My group’s research can be described as forensic analytical chemistry, which combines the powerful laboratory methods of analytical chemistry with issues of acute social relevance such as law enforcement, public health and counter-terrorism. As a result, the central concept of “Chemistry in the Public Interest” can be used to guide and inform our research activities:
Our projects related to explosives and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are focused on law enforcement and defense applications. Our application of multivariate statistics to chemical data (chemometrics) allows for detailed analysis of a number of data types, including instrumental data generated from trace evidence, which also has clear law enforcement applications. The pursuit of what we call “lifestyle markers” is intended to examine the various organic and aqueous fractions that are normally discarded during nuclear or mitochondrial DNA protocols. The small molecules in these layers have the potential to reflect the subject’s lifestyle, such as alcohol/drug/tobacco use, hair dyes, age, and health status.