CURRENT SECTION PRIORITIES

  1. Study and better understand the factors which influence the transfer and persistence of trace evidence, so that we can better answer questions with respect to how and when the trace evidence came to be deposited, and not just suggest the potential source of the trace evidence.

  2. Develop new methods to characterise trace evidence using Raman spectroscopy and time of flight mass spectrometry.

  3. Develop new, and expand existing, trace evidence reference collections. This involves the collection and analysis of trace evidence exemplars with the goal of enhancing the objectivity of comparisons made between reference material and case material. Our initial focus will be on automotive carpet fibres, architectural paints, zip ties, plastic bags and adhesive tapes.

Chemistry Projects

Click on the detail below to see individual project details


Creation of an automotive carpet fibre database

Details

This research project aims to establish and populate a searchable Vehicle Carpet Fibre Database for the Centre of Forensic Sciences (CFS). The collection will be comprised of fibre reference samples from personally-owned vehicles, manufacturers and salvage lots. A fibre’s physical and microscopic characteristics will be recorded and search results will provide a vehicle’s make/model/year information.

Date PostedCFS Project LeadPartner AgencyAgency LeadStatus
19-10-2020Christine McCarthyOntario Technical UniversityKimberly Nugent & Dr. Cecilia HagemanAssigned

Can gasoline be cross-transferred between sealed mason jars used to store fire-debris material and if so, will the cross-transfer have an impact on the validity of the subsequent forensic analysis? Publication of previously completed research

DetailsProject Title:

Can gasoline be cross-transferred between sealed mason jars used to store fire-debris material and if so, will the cross-transfer have an impact on the validity of the subsequent forensic analysis?

Background:

During a fire investigation, Fire Marshals collect debris using glass mason jars, which are submitted to the CFS where they are examined for ignitable liquids (aka fire accelerants). Typically, jars containing fire debris are collected and shipped to the lab in cardboard boxes. We need to determine, whether or not, during the interval between collection and analysis can volatile compounds escape from one sealed jar and contaminate another jar.

Research Objective:

Publication in a peer-reviewed journal of an unpublished draft paper tentatively titled “The Adsorptivity of Fire Debris and its Effect on Cross-Transfer of Gasoline”. The original dataset will be made available to the external partner.

Partnership Opportunity:

To collaborate with the CFS in the area of arson/fire investigations.

Resources Required:

Expertise with publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Resources Available:

The CFS has expertise in fire/arson chemistry.

Date PostedCFS Project LeadPartner AgencyAgency LeadStatus
08-01-2021Cara ShepardOntario Tech UniversityDr. Nelson Lafreniere & Dr. Theresa StotesburyAssigned

Does hair combing produce scalp hairs that appear to have been forcibly removed?

DetailsProject Title:

Does hair combing produce scalp hairs that appear to have been forcibly removed?

Background:

It is hypothesised that the detection of individual hairs with characteristics associated with forcible removal lends support to the idea that there was a certain level of violence or aggression in the incident being investigated. It is accepted that anagen or ribbon roots with sheath present on a detached scalp hair is indicative of forcible removal. The converse is also accepted, namely that telogen hairs and the absence of sheath cells indicated that the hair has fallen out ‘naturally’. This study investigates the frequency with which hair coming produced scalp hairs with the characteristics of forcible removal.

Research Objective:

Publication in a peer-reviewed journal of an unpublished draft paper tentatively titled “The Prevalence of “Forcibly Removed” Hairs Produced by Hair Combing. The original dataset will be made available to the external partner.

Partnership Opportunity:

To collaborate with the CFS in the area of crimes against persons involving trace evidence examinations.

Resources Required:

Expertise with publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Resources Available:

The CFS has expertise in hair microscopy.

Date PostedCFS Project LeadPartner AgencyAgency LeadStatus
29-01-2021Christine McCarthyAvailable

Cable-Tie Study: Variability, discriminating power and evidential value

DetailsProject Title:

Cable-Tie Study: Variability, discriminating power and evidential power.

Background:

Plastic cable ties can be utilised in a range of serious criminal activities and a comparison of cable ties, or fragments, may form part of the physical evidence presented to a court of law https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29332696/
https://astee.s3.amazonaws.com/881122_JASTEE_2020_10-1_Lambert.pdf.

Research Objective:

To bring statistical rigour to the examination of cable tie variability and establish evidential value of this examination.

Partnership Opportunity:

To evaluate the discriminating power of compared physical properties of cable ties in order to determine the probative weight of an indistinguishable finding in casework.

Resources Required:

Literature review of plastic cable tie examination and comparison. Expertise in probability statistics and sampling strategies. Microscopy/Stereomicroscopy.

Resources Available:

CFS has expertise in Microscopy/Stereomicroscopy and may be able to lend an instrument for the duration of the research. The CFS may also be able to financially support costs of consumables and purchase of cable ties.

Date PostedCFS Project LeadPartner AgencyAgency LeadStatus
24-02-2021Gerri Lynn VardyAvailable

To examine the contribution chemical/physical trace evidence makes to in the Ontario Criminal Justice System

DetailsProject Title:

To examine the contribution chemical/physical trace evidence makes to in the Ontario Criminal Justice System

Background:

Trace evidence is defined as the analysis of materials that, because of their size or texture, transfer from one location to another and persist there for some time period. The examination of trace evidence plays a role in the criminal justice system through the support it provides to policing and the courts. However, there is a relatively small body of research that has evaluated the impact of chemical trace forensic evidence on investigative and judicial processes. For additional background see: Woodman, P.A. et.al., The impact of chemical trace evidence on justice outcomes: Exploring the additive value of forensic science disciplines, Forensic Science International Feb. 2020, Vol. 307, pp. 110-121.

Research Objective:

Evaluate trends in demand for forensic chemical trace evidence examinations based on mining of data from the Centre of Forensic Sciences’ Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), and determine possible causal relationships by investigating contributions of trace evidence findings to criminal court cases in the Ontario justice system.

Partnership Opportunity:

Contribute to understanding the value of chemical trace evidence in official investigations and to court proceedings in Ontario.

Resources Required:

Experience with evaluating large datasets and undertaking multi-disciplinary research.

Resources Available:

Access to CFS datasets including LIMS information and case records.

Date PostedCFS Project LeadPartner AgencyAgency LeadStatus
07-04-2021Dalia BagbyTrent UniversityDr. Shannon Accettone & Dr. Sanela MarticAssigned

Development of a method for the detection of drugs in non-biological matrices by liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-QTOF-MS).

DetailsProject Title:

Development of a method for the detection of drugs in non-biological matrices by liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-QTOF-MS).

Background:

The CFS Chemistry Section analyzes non-biological samples (e.g. food products and residues, stomach contents) for the presence of noxious substances such as drugs, insecticides etc. The current procedure employs an optimized QuEChERS method to extract analytes of interest, followed by derivatization and subsequent analysis by GC-MS and/or LC-DAD. A few years ago, the CFS Toxicology Section developed a method for detecting drugs in biological samples (blood, urine) by means of LC-QTOF-MS. The Chemistry Section is looking to apply QTOF to the analysis of drugs in non-biological samples.

Research Objective:

The goal of this research project is to develop a drug screening method (incl. extraction steps) for non-biological matrices utilizing LC-QTOF-MS. The method is to be evaluated based on performance characteristics such as accuracy, precision, specificity/selectivity, limit of detection, ruggedness/robustness and practicality.

Partnership Opportunity:

We are seeking an external partner to work with the CFS project leads on the experimental design and technical implementation of QTOF analysis for drug detection in non-biological matrices.

Resources Required:

Expertise in LC-QTOF-MS and access to a LC-QTOF mass spectrometer. The research partner is expected to design the experimental protocol (in partnership with CFS), conduct the research project and be lead author on a publication.

Resources Available:

The CFS can provide training in the extraction and derivatization of non-biological samples (e.g. QuEChERS method), drug reference standards and other consumables, and access to procedures and protocols used for drug detection in the Toxicology Section.

Date PostedCFS Project LeadPartner AgencyAgency LeadStatus
08-04-2021Hendrik Dorn, Mike Harrison, Rachel ChenLaurentian UniversityJames WattersonAssigned

Transfer & Persistence of GSR between fabrics

Details

Analyze transfer and persistence of metals such as Pb, Ba and Sb between two pieces of fabric to gain a better understanding of gunshot residue (GSR) trace evidence transfer and persistence.

The goal of this research would be to gain a better understanding of GSR trace evidence transfer and persistence patterns through studying the transfer and persistence of the elemental metals (inorganic elements) GSR is composed of. Specifically, to measure the extent of transfer events (how often trace evidence is detected to be transferred and in what situations transfer occurs) between two fabrics and its detection over time (persistence)

Date PostedCFS Project LeadPartner AgencyAgency LeadStatus
13-04-2021Dr. David RuddellTrent UniversityDr. Sanela MarticAssigned