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Lizzy Sunderhaus'12

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Forensic Science Grad Students to Present at National Conference

Three students in the Master of Science in Forensic Science program will present research at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) from Feb. 18-23 in Washington, D.C. The students gave approximately 20 students and professors an on-campus preview of their research on February 1.


Kristina McNerney, James Anasti, and Kayla Sween

Kristina McNerney ’11 ’13 presented her paper, “An Investigation of the Binding of Benzodiazepines to Human Serum Albumin and the Effect on Quantitation in Blood Samples,” which examines how benzodiazepines bind to human serum albumin in blood, and how this affects the ability to detect the exact level of the benzodiazepines present in blood samples. Benzodiazepines are most often used to treat anxiety, insomnia, agitation, seizures, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal and as a premedication for medical or dental procedures, but they are sometimes combined with other misused drugs.

James Anasti ’13 presented his paper, “Applications of HILIC (Hydrophilic, Interaction, LIquid Chromatography) in Forensic Science.” This method can be used for suspected heroin and morphine abusers because in the body heroin is converted into morphine, said Anasti, who added that understanding the levels of each metabolite can help determine if the person is a chronic user of heroin and also determine cause of death.

Kayla Sween ’11 ’13 presented her paper, “Detection of Male DNA in the Vaginal Cavity Following Digital Penetration Using Y Chromosome Short Tandem Repeats,” which examines how well male DNA could be detected several hours to a few days after such incidents. Sween said this research could be especially important in juvenile cases, where this type of contact is more common.

Larry Quarino, Ph.D., director of the forensic science program, said presenting at the AAFS annual meeting is a tremendous opportunity for his students—past and present.
“Attending the American Academy of Forensic Sciences annual meeting is a wonderful learning experience for students,” said Quarino. “Students will hear about the latest research and advances as well as being able to interact with forensic science professionals and meet graduates of the program who have embarked on their own careers. This type of interaction exemplifies what it means to be a professional as well as demonstrating the importance of "being involved.”

In addition to McNerney, Anasti and Sween, Cedar Crest MSFS program graduates Brandi Skymba ’09 ’12 (“Investigation into Cyclohexanone as a Schiff-base Derivatizing Agent for the Detection of Cathinones with GC/MS”) and Manal Khalil ’11 ’12 (“Assessing the Degree of Similarity Between Accidental Patterns on Shoeprints Associated With Wearers That Participate in Shared and Independent Activities”) will present at the AAFS annual meeting.

Learn more about the Master of Science in Forensic Science