The American Academy of Forensic Science’s Annual Conference was held in Washington, D.C. this past February, and drew together more than 4,000 people working in the field of forensic science. Also in attendance were students completing graduate studies in Forensic Science at Sam Houston State. These graduate students had the opportunity to present their research work; papers on varying subjects like entomology, forensic anthropology, and toxicology.
An article in The Huntsville Item describes some of the work that was presented by the graduate students:
They presented posters on lab testing for bath salts, the extraction of alprazolam from urine samples, an impaired driving case involving phenazepan, the use of pollen DNA from pine trees to determine location in forensic cases, the molecular analysis of maggot masses in human decomposition to identify insect species, and the use of color changes during human decomposition to help to identify post mortem intervals.
Paige Hinners concentrated on a study completed in conjunction with Dr. Sarah Kerrigan, chair of the Forensic Science Department and a professor, and Monica Brady Mellon, herself a forensic toxicologist, in the case involving phenazepan and the Sam Houston State University Regional Crime Lab. In this case the Lab was unable to determine that a driver was under the influence of the drug with a regular toxicology screening. Phenazepan, which is much more powerful than the similar med diazepam, has been popular in Russia for some time, but has only recently been popping up in the United States.
Cassandra Campelli, meanwhile, presented the work of Drs. Christopher Randle, Craig Echt, Bruce Budowle, and David A. Gangitano along with Jennifer Sycalik, who examined the possibilities of utilizing pine pollen to collect information about a crime, such as proving a criminal suspect has links to a site where a crime took place or a body was disposed of. These were just two of the interesting posters presented at the conference for professionals in the field.