Notable Former Lab Members
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Pam Marshall, MS, Ph.D.
Director and Associate Teaching Professor
Forensic Science and Law Program
Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Dr. Pamela Marshall has been involved in the field of forensic analysis since 2002. Upon the completion of her MS in Forensic Genetics in 2002, she worked as a Forensic Scientist III at the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division. While in Maryland, Dr. Marshall became an expert on sexual assault kit examination and collection practices. She was the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Coordinator for the state, helped to promote 120-hour SAFE collection legislation, and assisted in the training of over 200 SAFE nurses. Dr. Marshall has also travelled abroad to Luanda, Angola, Africa in order to train analysts in forensic DNA analysis. She has been qualified as an expert witness in the field of serology in Maryland and Texas.
Her dissertation was titled “Improved Tools for the Robust Analysis of Low Copy Number and Challenged DNA Samples”, leading to her graduation with her doctorate in 2014 under the guidance of Drs. Bruce Budowle, Art Eisenberg, Ranajit Chakraborty, and Angela van Daal.
From 2014-2018, Dr. Marshall served as the Director of the Forensic Science Program at the Southern University at New Orleans, a public, historically black college and university (HBCU). While at SUNO, Dr. Marshall created a state of the art forensic laboratory for hands-on research and experimentation. She has received numerous grants as well as partnered on research projects with other faculty and students. She is an advocate for increasing the number of African American and underrepresented minority professionals in the field of forensic science.
In July 2018, Dr. Marshall became the Director of the Forensic Science and Law Program at Duquesne University, the nation’s only entry level Master’s degree program in forensic science. She also serves as an Associate Professor and holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Biological Sciences.
Dr. Marshall has extensive graduate and undergraduate teaching experience in the forensic disciplines of serology, DNA, and microscopy. Her research interests include low copy number DNA, human and wildlife DNA identification challenges, nanoparticle technology, pressure cycling technology, and PCR enhancement.
Shamika Kelley, MS
Criminalist Houston Forensic Science Center
Lisa Skandalis, MS
US Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory, Defense Science Center
Lindsey Thompson, MS
Lindsey Thompson worked on selecting an Ancestry-Informative Marker (AIM) panel of INDELs while at the University of North Texas Health Science Center under Dr. Bobby LaRue. Now Lindsey enjoys working at her new job at Sorenson Forensics and other activities such as reading, hanging out with friends, and playing with her dog.
David Warshauer, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
Genetic Analysis Promega Corporation
David received his PhD from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in 2015 for his work on towards the Development of a Comprehensive Massively Parallel Sequencing Panel of SNP and STR Markers for Human Identification. During his time, he was instrumental in the development and application of the software STRait Razor. He now works for Promega in the Genetic Analysis Division as a Senior Research Scientist.
Xiangpei Zeng, Ph.D.
Xiangpei Zeng was a PhD student in Dr. Budowle’s lab at the University of North Texas Health Science Center until 2016. He was born in China, and received his medical degree from medical school of Sun Yat-sen University (Guangzhou, China) in Forensic Medicine. He continued to study in Sun Yat-sen University and received his Master’s Degree in Forensic Genetics under the guidance of Dr. Hongyu Sun on the application of X-STRs in Chinese populations. Xiangpei moved to USA in 2011 and spent one year in the Department of Biology at University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) as a PhD student. In August 2012, He joined the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics at UNTHSC and continued his study in Forensic Science. His primary research focus is the application of ancestry informative markers in Forensic Genetics using massively parallel sequencing technology. He likes reading and traveling when he is free. Xiangpei now works in San Diego California for a Bio-Tech company as a research scientist.
Sarah Schmedes, Ph.D.
Sarah is a native Texan and originally from Austin, TX. She graduated in 2007 from Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Microbiology. In 2009 she graduated with a Master of Science in Forensic Biology from SUNY Albany. While pursuing her master’s degree, Sarah completed an internship at the McMaster Ancient DNA Centre at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON under the direction of Dr. Hendrik Poinar. Sarah’s work contributed to a project focused on isolating and identifying Yersinia pestis as the causative agent from 14th-century Black Death Victims. The project resulted in a publication which was featured on the cover of Nature in October 2011. Upon completion of her master’s degree, Sarah became employed at the Institute of Applied Genetics at the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) in Fort Worth, TX and worked on various research projects involving human forensic DNA analysis and tick-borne disease research. In August 2011, Sarah joined the Forensic Genetics PhD program in the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics at UNTHSC. Sarah is currently a 5th year PhD student studying under the direction of Dr. Bruce Budowle. Sarah’s research focus is in microbial forensics and metagenomics. In her free time Sarah enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing a good board game. Sarah graduated in 2017 and is a post-doctoral fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.
Frank received his PhD from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in 2018 for his work evaluating the efficacy of a pathway-driven genetic predictive model of tramadol pharmacokinetics (i.e., absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and response) with application to postmortem medico-legal investigations. Frank currently is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine where he studies the genetics of psychiatric disorders, behavioral phenotypes, and complex traits in the laboratory of Dr. Renato Polimanti. To keep up with Frank’s most recent activity, please visit www.frankwendt.com.
Nicole was a PhD student in the Budowle lab from 2013 through 2018. She is native to Canada, where she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science and Biology at the University of Toronto. She then worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Northern Alberta before moving on to the University at Albany, SUNY to complete her Master’s Degree in Forensic Molecular Biology. Following graduation in 2011, Nicole spent some time at the NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner Department of Forensic Biology as a Criminalist and left in 2013 to pursue her studies at UNTHSC. Nicole completed her PhD in July 2018, focusing on novel STR markers for enhanced DNA mixture deconvolution. Immediately following graduation, Nicole was appointed a tenure-stream Assistant Professor position in the Forensic Science Program at the University of Toronto. When she isn’t teaching or working in her lab, Nicole enjoys running, reading, volunteering, and spending quality time with her husband Lindsay and great danes Hank and Earl.
Assistant Professor, Forensic Science Program
University of Toronto Mississauga
Health Sciences Complex, Room 406
3359 Mississauga Rd
Mississauga ON L5L 1C6
Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences
University of New Haven
Dr. Angie Ambers has a Ph.D. in molecular biology (with emphasis in forensic genetics and human identification) as well as master’s degrees both in forensic genetics and in criminology. She spent 8 years as a forensic geneticist for the UNT Center for Human Identification (CHI) and was an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas for 12 years, teaching DNA analysis/methodology to undergraduate students enrolled in the FEPAC-accredited forensic science certificate program. Her casework has included DNA testing of an American Civil War guerrilla scout, Finnish World War II soldiers, unidentified late-19th century skeletal remains discovered by a construction crew in Deadwood, South Dakota, Special Operations soldiers killed during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, skeletal remains exhumed from Prague Castle in the Czech Republic, soldiers from the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), bone samples purported to belong to a member of the Jesse James gang, and skeletal remains associated with the last expedition of the French explorer La Salle. During her time with the CHI, Dr. Ambers also collaborated with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) to develop a formal report on the utility of Familial DNA Searching in cold case investigations, and she traveled twice to India to train scientists from various Indian states and the Maldives Police Service on the processing of bone samples in forensic DNA casework.
In addition to skeletal remains cases and research, Dr. Ambers served as one of the project leads for a U.S. State Department grant to combat human trafficking in Central America through the application of forensics. She traveled to three Northern Triangle countries (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras) to perform gap assessments of government laboratories and train personnel in forensic DNA analysis, with the goal of promoting quality casework methods based on ISO 17025 standards. Dr. Ambers now is an Associate Professor (Forensic DNA) in the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences at the University of New Haven, and will be continuing her work in human trafficking with Henry Lee’s Center for Investigations of Trafficking in Persons.
Research Track Masters Student
Research Track Masters Student
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Hailing from Pondicherry, a sleepy coastal town (of Life of Pi fame) in southern India, Utpal’s formal training in biology began with a MSc in Ecology from Pondicherry University in 2008. He then graduated with a PhD in Quantitative Biology from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2016. His doctoral training primarily involved using computational methods to investigate questions in molecular ecology using a combination of macro – and micro-evolutionary approaches.
As a postdoctoral research associate at UNTCHI, Utpal helped create the Mitochondrial Mixture Database and Interpretation Tool (MMDIT) – a bioinformatic pipeline for deconvoluting mitochondrial DNA mixture and using computational phylogenetic and population genetic methods on human microbiome data to leverage them as a forensic tool. When he’s not analyzing data, he can be found herping, rock climbing, or composing music.
Caris Life Sciences
Allison was mentored by Dr. Bruce Budowle and Dr. August Woerner at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. While at UNTHSC Allison received the prestigious National Institute of Justice Graduate Research Fellowship to complete her Ph.D. dissertation over “Improving Human Identification Using the Human Skin Microbiome”. She completed her B.S. in Animal Science Biotechnology at Oklahoma State University while working in the biotechnology laboratory headed by Dr. Jennifer Hernandez-Gifford. She then continued to Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa, OK where she received the National Science Foundation Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship. She completed her M.S. in Forensic Science – Molecular Biology while working under the direction of Dr. Robert Allen on the degradation of semen specific mRNA markers. Allison is now working on the pharmacogenomics team at Caris Life Sciences where she focuses on finding genetic markers for drug metabolism and potential effectiveness for different kinds of cancer.
Dr. Bruce Budowle received a Ph.D. in Genetics in 1979 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. From 1979-1982, Dr. Budowle was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Working under a National Cancer Institute fellowship, he carried out research predominately on genetic risk factors for diseases such as insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, melanoma, and acute lymphocytic leukemia. From 1983-2009, Dr. Budowle worked at the FBI Laboratory Division to carry out research, development, and validation of methods for forensic biological analyses. Dr. Budowle has contributed to the fundamental sciences as they apply to forensics in analytical development, population genetics, statistical interpretation of evidence, and in quality assurance. Some of his technical efforts have been: 1) development of analytical assays for typing a myriad of protein genetic marker systems, 2) designing electrophoretic instrumentation, 3) developing molecular biology analytical systems to include RFLP typing of VNTR loci and PCR-based SNP assays, VNTR and STR assays, and direct sequencing methods for mitochondrial DNA, and 4) new technologies; and 5) designing image analysis systems. Dr. Budowle has worked on laying some of the foundations for the current statistical analyses in forensic biology and defining the parameters of relevant population groups. He has published more than 490 articles, made more than 580 presentations (many of which were as an invited speaker at national and international meetings), and testified in well over 250 criminal cases in the areas of molecular biology, population genetics, statistics, quality assurance, and forensic biology. In addition, he has authored or co-authored books on molecular biology techniques, electrophoresis, protein detection, and microbial forensics. Dr. Budowle has been directly involved in developing quality assurance (QA) standards for the forensic DNA field. He has been a chair and member of the Scientific Working Group on DNA Methods, Chair of the DNA Commission of the International Society of Forensic Genetics, and a member of the DNA Advisory Board. He was one of the original architects of the CODIS National DNA database, which maintains DNA profiles from convicted felons, from evidence in unsolved cases, and from missing persons. Dr. Budowle’s efforts over the past decade also have focused on counter terrorism specifically efforts involving microbial forensics and bioterrorism. Dr. Budowle was involved directly in the scientific aspects of the anthrax letters investigation and has been one of the architects of the field of microbial forensics. He has been the chair of the Scientific Working Group on Microbial Genetics and Forensics (hosted by the FBI), whose mission was to set QA guidelines, develop criteria for biologic and user databases, set criteria for a National Repository, and develop forensic genomic applications. He currently serves on other government working groups related to microbial forensics. He also has served on the Steering Committees or been a co-organizer for the Colloquia on Microbial Forensics sponsored by American Society of Microbiology, Microbial Forensics Meetings, hosted by DHS, held at The Banbury Center in the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and a meeting on Microbial Evolution and Cutting Edge Tools for Outbreak Investigations, hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has published a number of articles (see below) on microbial forensics on topics such as attribution, quality assurance, population genetics, next generation sequencing technology, and sample collection. His current efforts at UNTHSC continue to focus on the areas of human forensic identification, microbial forensics, and emerging infectious disease.