Current Research

Postmortem changes in the human microbiome.
The human microbiome is the complete diversity of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in, on, and around the human body. We are currently exploring how the human microbiome changes upon the death of the human host. We have collected bacterial swabs from living and deceased human persons and are analyzing the respective bacterial diversity through next-generation metagenomic sequencing. The goal of this research is to discover changes in the bacterial populations that occur upon the death of the human host in a predictable pattern and schedule. Such a discovery could become a major tool in establishing time of death and other information of use in a death investigation.
dead_body_by_twilitesmuse-d5hn2wj Lab members involved: Donovan Trinidad, James Parziale, Zenab Khan, Stephania Guzman,
Collaborators: Dr. Jennifer DeBruyn, Anthropological Research Facility at the U. of Tennessee-Knoxville

Forensic Botany

In this project, we are developing DNA-based tools for the rapid detection and identification of plant species from trace biological evidence including pollen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALab members involved: Michael Wu, Bridgit Waithaka, Derek Sokolowski, Julia Kakhnovich


 

 Adulterants Used to Circumvent Routine Urine Drug Testing

This ongoing project aims to test the validity of claims that certain oral supplements or urine adulterants can be used to circumvent the detection of drugs in urine samples. By methodical testing, we have refuted the effectiveness of several common claims of “how to beat a drug test.” However, we have also confirmed that Zinc, either added to urine directly or taken as a dietary supplement, effectively interferes with the detection of drugs in routine urine drug testing. We have recently published the original discovery of this phenomenon and we are now pursuing the mechanism, as well as continuing our screening for other such adulterants.

Lab members involved: Tamykah Anthony, Tetyana Fonarova, Anna Lerer

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