research
research

Research

Traditionally, research and development behind human DNA identification is the gold standard in forensic science; however, applications of DNA-based forensics to non-human organisms is increasing rapidly.

In wildlife forensics, DNA profiles of biological material from illegal kill sites are compared to those of samples collected from suspected poachers and a probability of whether they originated from the same sample is determined.Two people in hazMat suits looking at a substance on a cotton swab

In forensic botany, DNA analysis is being developed to identify Marijuana strains and to determine the probability that grow ops are linked to international cartels. DNA analysis was also used in microbial forensics to identify the strain of Bacillus anthracis used in bioterrorist attacks through the US mail system. These are limited examples of non-human forensic science, an area of research that is the focus of many faculty members associated with the Forensic Science Program.


Four people in a greenhouse in conversation Dr. Barry Saville joined the Faculty in October of 2006 with a research interest in fungal genomics and genome-wide gene expression analysis. He has experience in nucleic acids analysis that includes the discovery and characterization of catalytic RNAs, population genetics and fungal genomics. A focus of Dr Saville's work will be the development of molecular tools for forensic identification of microbes that may be used in bioterrorist attacks with an emphasis on plant pathogens.

                                                                                        Man in lab coat looking at a tool in his hand

Dr. Christopher Kyle is an associate professor and research Chair in Wildlife Genetics and Forensics sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources; his research interests include the relative influences of environmental factors on animal movement and dispersal including wildlife disease applications, as well as wildlife forensics and forensic entomology.

Rhonda L. Smith is the law faculty member in the Forensic Science Program. Her area of research is the use of scientific experts in criminal and civil trials and, in particular, the impact on juries and other criminal justice participants of non- adversarial modes for the delivery of expert evidence.  Working with undergraduate students, Professor Smith is examining how using different methods for presenting expert evidence can make for better judge and jury decision-making and access to justice.

Work table with hammer and blood splattering onto walls

 

Mike Illes has been part of the Forensic Science Research Team since 2006. He also conducts research as an Adjunct Professor within the Material Science Graduate Program. His research interests include bloodstain pattern analysis - specifically fluid dynamics and the application of statistical models - and crime scene analysis.

The Sherlock Blood Spatter Analysis system http://sherlock.trentu.ca/  iis an application to help process field data and determine the unique point of impact for your dataset. The following link is supplied to support BPA training and was made possible because of the ongoing research at Tent University.

We would like to acknowledge Amanda Orr, BScFS graduate and Jacques Beland, Computing Systems for their work in the development and validation of the Sherlock software. "

 

Additionally, Mike is interested in forensic science processes such as pedagogic practices and the application of methods.

 

The diverse focus afforded by these individuals provides breadth to the Forensic Science Program and to the education students receive in this program.