Department of Chemistry and Physics
Research Scientist and Academic Advisor, Forensic Science Program
Office Address: 136B Stillwell Science Building
M.S., Western Carolina University
B.S., University of South Florida
Areas of Interest:
In my current role as a forensic research scientist, I have designed and executed experiments for the validation of next-generation sequencing (NGS) instruments that are housed within the WCU core sequencing facility. A current project includes a direct comparison of human mtDNA sequence data from a previously characterized sample donor generated using both the Roche GS Junior and Illumina® MiSeq® benchtop sequencers. Unexpected minor-variants (≥ 0.1% minor variant detection threshold) were assessed for their presence in data sets generated by both sequencing instruments. Those variants detected across all NGS platforms were classified as instances of possible true biological variation, while others were classified as instances of background noise. Those classified as background noise were further categorized as transitions, transversions and/or indels in order to elucidate the type of background noise associated with each instrument. This information will ultimately be used to aid in the establishment of an instrument-based limit of detection, or analytical threshold above which low-level variants can be interpreted with a higher level of certainty. Additionally, a related project includes analysis of human mtDNA sequence data using commercially available NGS software packages including Softgenetics NextGENe®, and CLC Genomics Workbench as a way to understand the impact that different computational algorithms may have on NGS data output and resulting interpretations. This project represents an ongoing collaboration between WCU, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL).