Dr. Paola A. Prada
Title: Research Assistant Professor
Education: Postdoctoral Appointment, Office of the Director of National Intelligence US Government Fellowship, 2010-2012; Ph.D., Florida International University, 2010
Research Area: Forensic Analytical Chemistry
Office: Dept. of Environmental Toxicology, Rm. 110E Lab: TBA
Phone: (806) 834-0983 (Main)
Fax: (806) 885-4577
- FSCI 5308 - Fundamentals of Forensic Science
- FSCI 5354 - Introduction to Forensic Drug Chemistry
- FSCI 5355 - Instrumental methods for Trace Evidence Analysis
- FSCI 5256 - Forensic Toxicology
- FSCI 5257 - Explosives and Arson Investigation
- FSCI 2308 - Forensic Sciences
PRINCIPAL RESEARCH INTERESTS
- Chemical odor analysis and detection
- Biological detection of forensic traces, mainly canine detection
- Canine olfaction, performance and training techniques
Research efforts in our group are centered in the main scope of "volatolomics", specifically in the analysis of volatile organic compounds from biological as well as other forensic specimens which could yield a chemical odor profile useful for discriminatory and identification purposes. To achieve these objectives, the analytical methods implemented in our laboratory include the use of instrumentation such as gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and solid phase microextraction that allow the efficient extraction and detection of target analytes with minor sample disturbance. Our particular interest is in understanding the complex odor picture available to the canine nose in the many military and law enforcement applications of working dog canine teams. Additionally, we are focusing our efforts on not only the analytical chemistry component, but also in monitoring canine response and threshold levels with concurrent canine field testing.
CURRENT FORENSIC PROJECTS
Human Odor Traces
One major subject of study in our laboratory is that of forensic odorology. A young discipline in the Western hemisphere, this area of forensic science focuses on the evaluation of human odor volatiles as a biometric measurement to discriminate individuals. Using traces of odor to detect and prosecute criminals, establish connections between victim-assailants, and ultimate detection, and preservation is the fundamental reasoning for all our experimental designs. Since the beginning stages of this work, we are now in a position to further exploit a subject's odor profile and target the analysis to extract more information from an odor sample, ranging from questions stemming from disease conditions, addiction, and even geographical origin. An active component of this work is to understand how a human odor profile can yield information of controlled substance intake from addictive populations.
Explosive Odor Residues
In collaboration with Texas Tech's Canine Olfaction laboratory, a current project is underway to understand how to better prepare explosive canine training aids using an olfactometer as a mechanism to prepare a range of odor mixtures. This project responds to a need within national security purposes to better train canines to the range of complex odor mixtures encountered with homemade explosive devices. This work entails a thorough analysis of odorants as well as optimized methods of collection to yield optimal training aids.
Our laboratory has partnered with Lubbock Police Department K9 unit to investigate narcotic odor as a function of time. Does the age of a training aid affect canine performance? The use of canines for drug detection is paramount for national security and law enforcement purposes. In an effort to provide scientific foundation for canine drug detection, it is vital to understand the optimal lifespan of a training aid via both instrumental and canine field testing.
Decomposition Odor Traces
Another area of study within our laboratory focuses on the study of volatile organic compounds emanating from decomposition. This section of our laboratory entails understanding VOCs from matrices such as blood, insects, soil and related tissues using pigs as our animal model of study. The need to better estimate postmortem intervals is critical and the research in our laboratory focuses on using volatolomics as a viable source of information.
In collaboration with the College of Media and Mass Communication and DPS Lubbock Crime Laboratory, projects in our laboratory are currently researching novel development methodologies on matrices of forensic importance such as condoms, as well as utilizing novel technology such as non-invasive eye-tracking software to better understand human fingerprint identification. It is the intent of our approaches to highlight potential sources of new evidentiary tools sampling novel substrates via both powdering and chemical techniques, as well as expand our knowledge of fingerprint identification by developing objective measures of examiner's visual attention prior to analysis.
- P.A. Prada & K.G. Furton. Birds and Dogs: Toward a Comparative Perspective on Odor Use and Detection, Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 5:188. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2018.00188.
- C.L. Sanchez, A.M. Huertas,P.A. Prada and K.G. Furton, A Non-Contact Passive Approach for the Effective Collection of Target Explosive Volatiles for Canine Training Aid Development, Journal of Forensic Science and Criminology, 2016, 4 (2), ISSN: 2348-9804.
- P.A. Prada and M. Chavez Rodriguez. Demining Dogs in Colombia - A Review of Operational Challenges, Chemical Perspectives, and Practical Implications, Science and Justice, 2016, 56: 269-277. DOI: 10.1016/n.scijus.2016.03.002
- P.A. Prada, Allison M. Curran, Kenneth G. Furton. Human Scent Evidence, Ed. CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2015, ISBN:146658395.
- C.L. Sanchez,P.A. Prada, and K.G. Furton. On the importance of training aids and the definiion of an explosive odorsignature: Commentary on Kranz et al.,Forensic Science International,2015, 251: e18-e19
- P.A. Prada, A.M. Curran and K.G. Furton. The determination of characteristic human scent compounds on natural andsynthetic fabrics, Journal of Forensic Science and Criminology, 2014, 1: S101.
- Jessica S. Brown, P.A. Prada, A.M. Curran and K.G. Furton. Applicability of Emanating Volatile Organic Compoundsfrom Various Forensic Specimens for Individual Differentiation. Forensic Science International, 2013, 226: 173-182.
- P.A. Prada, A.M. Curran, K.G. Furton. The Evaluation of Human Hand Odor Volatiles on Various Textiles: AComparison between Contact and Non-Contact Sampling Methods. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2011, 56(4): 866-881.
- P.A.Prada, A.M.Curran and K.G. Furton. Comparison of Extraction Methodsfor the Removal of Volatile OrganicCompounds (VOCs) Present in Sorbents Used for Human Scent Evidence Collection. Analytical Methods, 2010, 2: 470-478. (Cover Featured Article)
- A.M Curran, P.A.Prada, and K.G. Furton. Canine Human Scent Identifications with Post Blast Debris Collected fromImprovised Explosive Devices, Forensic Science International, 2010, 199: 103-108.
- A.M. Curran, P.A.Prada, and K.G. Furton. The Differentiation of the Volatile Organic Signatures of Individualsthrough SPME-GC/MS of Characteristic Human Scent Compounds. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2010, 55(1): 50-57.