Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Darwin Dahl (Director), Dr. Eric Conte, Dr. Kevin Williams

Degree Program

Department of Chemistry

Degree Type

Master of Science


Instrumental to forensic investigations is the ability to identify unknown human remains providing key evidence to criminal cases, resolution to missing persons, and assistance in mass or natural disasters. Identification of remains in an effort to determine age is an area of forensics that has received considerable attention. Traditional methods in age determination such as morphology are often biased, antiquated, and frequently result in a large margin of error. Conversely, the emergence of new forensic techniques provide promise to reduce the margin of error in determining age. One such technique has focused on relating the extent of amino acid racemization in teeth to age. Past research has focused primarily on the analysis of aspartic acid due to its high racemization rate. Our research indicates that glutamic acid also shows promise as related to age determination. Results will be presented illustrating optimization of gas chromatography using a chiral column for separation of amino acids found in dentin and their enantiomeric ratio quantification. Age correlation data will be presented on collected teeth ranging from mid-teens to early seventies.


Chemistry | Digestive, Oral, and Skin Physiology | Medical Biochemistry | Medical Pathology | Musculoskeletal, Neural, and Ocular Physiology | Oral Biology and Oral Pathology