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The Jackson Group
Department of Forensic and Investigative Science
Our long-term goal is to catalyze the progress of biomedical, analytical and forensic research through the development of mass spectrometric instruments and techniques. We currently have several major projects under way:
  1. New ways of fragmenting gas-phase bio-ions in tandem mass spectrometers using kiloelectronvolt helium ions. We use the term charge transfer dissociation (CTD-MS) to describe the mechanism of activation. See example publications for peptides, glycosaminoglycans and HPLC-CTD-MS of oligogalacturonans.
  2. New forensic applications of isotope ratio mass spectrometry, including hair, nails and blow flies. We use both LC-IRMS and GC-C-IRMS to analyze the 13C abundances of the different amino acids in proteinaceous material. See example publications for hair, blowflies and oysters.
  3. Understanding the mass spectrometric fragmentation behavior of novel psychoactive substances (NPSs) and fentanyl analogs. See example publications for cathinones and fentalogs, including a novel rearrangement for fentalogs.
  4. Development of an Expert Algorithm for Substance Identification (EASI) (not yet published). This research received the 2021 FACSS Innovation Award and NIJ funding.
  5. Developing experimental and theoretical approaches to understand the evaporation of ignitable liquids at elevated temperatures (e.g., 210 °C). See example publication.

Click on the publications tab in the menu bar to see all our recent publications.

Latest News


OYEDOYIN (ALEXANDRA) GRADUATES WITH MS DEGREE AND HANNAH AND AHNA RECEIVE AWARDS AND BS DEGREES (MAY 2022)

Alex Adeoye graduation MS FIS 2022
Congratulations Alex Adeoye for graduating with her MS degree! Alex will now be continuing her research project on the Expert Algorithm for Substance Identification (EASI) as she matriculates to the PhD program in FIS. Congratulations to Ahna Kotula and Hannah McMillen, too, for receiving their BS degrees in FIS. Hannah was named the outstanding senior among the Forensic Chemists and received an award from the department's Advancing Forensic Science Fund. Hannah will join the MS program at WVU this fall to continue her research on the evaporation of ignitable liquids. Ahna also received an award for her undergraduate research from FIS's Advancing Forensic Science Fund, and she was named the outstanding senior in the graduating class of Forensic Examiners. Well done All!
Ahna Kotula graduates, May 2022 Hannah McMillen graduates, May 2022

HALLE'S MANUSCRIPT MAKES THE COVER OF JASMS! (APRIL 2022)

JASMS Cover April 2022
Congratulations to Dr. Halle Edwards for making the journal cover the April edition of JASMS. Halle's manuscript describes the application of charge transfer dissociation (CTD) to the structural analysis of macrocyclic ions, including Erythromycins, cobalamins (Vitamin B 12), and the synthetic polymer Nylon-6,6.

DR. JACKSON INTERVIEWED FOR DOCUMENTARY FOR SUNDANCE TV (APRIL 2022)

Dr. Jackson interviewed for Sundance TV
The interview covers the wrongful conviction of Jason Lively, who was convicted of murder and arson in 2006 and served 14 years in prison. In the interview, which will air later in the year, Dr. Jackson describes how scientific advances in our  understanding of fire debriswhich were made after Mr. Lively's convictionhelped provide new evidence and an alternative interpretation of the fire's cause and origin .   The story is described in other venues, including the  Washington Post , the  WVU Innocence Project  and the  National Registry of Exonerations and Forensic Files II.

DR. JACKSON INTERVIEWED BY LCGC (MARCH 2022)

LCGC Interview
LCGC published this interview with Dr. Jackson regarding the topic of his FACSS Innovation Award at SciX conference in Providence, RI in the fall. The title of the talk was "Expert Algorithm for Substance Identification (EASI): A New Paradigm for Mass Spectral Identifications." The project (Award# 15PNIJ-21-GG-04179-COAP) is now funded by OJP/NIJ.

HALLE EDWARDS AND PRANEETH (MARIO) MENDIS GRADUATE WITH PHDS (DEC 2021)
Halle Mario and Glen at graduation 2021

Congratulations to Halle and Mario for graduating with your PhDs. Halle and Mario are now both gainfully employed at Viatris Inc., a large pharmaceutical company with R & D labs in Morgantown, which formed via a merger of Mylan and Upjohn in 2020. Halle's dissertation is titled "Unique Biological Applications of Charge Transfer Dissociation Mass Spectrometry" and resulted in three submitted manuscripts as first author. Mario's dissertation is titled "Online Ultra-High Performance Liquid Chromatography-Charge Transfer Dissociation-Mass Spectrometry (UHPLC-CTD-MS) of Complex Mixtures of Oligosaccharides" and also resulted in three peer-reviewed publications as first author.

JACKSON GROUP RECEIVES NEW NIJ GRANT (DEC 2021)

The Office of Justice Programs recently announced that our grant titled " Expert Algorithm for Substance Identification (EASI)" will be funded the amount of $327K starting in 2021. The project is on the same topic that received the FACSS Innovation award back in October 2021 (see below for details). The project will support students in the graduate programs in Forensic and Investigative Science at WVU.

DR. JACKSON APPEARS IN "INSIDER Q/A" FOR A NEW FORENSIC CHEMISTRY BOOK (DEC 2021)

In its "ACS in focus" series, ACS Publishing recently released a new book titled Forensic Chemistry. The book is authored by Prof. Kenyon Evans-Nguyen of the University of Tampa. Dr. Jackson provided a recorded response to the prompt "How did you get involved in forensic chemistry, and do you have any advice for researchers in the laboratory who are interested in making their work relevant to practitioners?" His response is also available on YouTube . Dr. Jackson and graduate student Erica Maney both served as accuracy reviewers for the book.

DR. JACKSON GIVES VIRTUAL TALK ON STEM CAREERS IN FORENSIC SCIENCE (OCT 2021)

Title slide for STEM career talk As part of National Chemistry Week, Dr. Jackson gave a live presentation, followed by a live Q/A session, titled "A Career in Forensic Science: Demystifying Myths." The presentation was streamed to dozens of high schools throughout the US, and a recording will be archived for future viewing at no cost on the Savvas website (scroll to bottom of page), or directly on Vimeo.

AHNA KOTULA WINS CBD-IAI SCHOLARSHIPS (OCT 2021)

Ahna Kotula Congratulations, Ahna, for receiving the 2021 George H. Robinson Memorial Scholarship and Johnson-Whyte Memorial Foundation Scholarship. The scholarships recognize outstanding undergraduate students in forensic science and criminal justice programs in the US. Ahna will receive an academic scholarship in the amount of $1,000 and a certificate of recognition. Her award will be presented at the Spring Educational Conferences of the Chesapeake Bay Division of the International Association for Identification ( CDB-IAI), which will be held in Gettysburg, MD in March, 2022.

DR. JACKSON WINS FACSS INNOVATION AWARD (OCT 2021)

At SciX conference in Providence, RI, Dr. Jackson was one of three finalists to present an oral presentation in the FACSS Innovation Award Session on the last evening of the conference. Co-authors on Dr. Jackson's presentation included J. Tyler Davidson (currently an assistant professor at SHSU) and Sam Mehnert (currently a PhD student at Purdue). The presentation was titled "Expert Algorithm for Substance Identification (EASI): A New Paradigm for Mass Spectral Identifications," and the winner was announced in the closing session of the conference.
Dr. Jackson at FACSS Innovation Award Session, SciX conference, 2021Dr. Jackson presents at FACSS Innovation award session, Providence, RI, 2021

DR. JACKSON SERVES AS FACSS/SCIX PHOTOGRAPHER

Since 2017, Dr. Jackson has provided photography services to FACSS at the annual SciX conference. Video montages of the conference are available on the SciX YouTube Channel. An example video from the 2021 SciX meeting in Providence, RI, is provided below.

DR. JACKSON APPEARS ON FORENSIC FILES II (AUG 2021)

Jackson interview for Forensic Files IIDr. Jackson appeared in an episode of Forensic Files II, which was aired on HLN at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 15th, 2021. The episode ("Incendiary", Season 2, Episode 12) covered the wrongful conviction of Jason Lively, who was convicted of murder and arson in 2006 and served 14 years in prison. The story is described in other venues, including the Washington Post, the WVU Innocence Project and the National Registry of Exonerations.

GROUP WELCOMES NEW MEMBERS (AUG 2021)

We welcome the introduction of several new group members this year, the details of whom can be found on the personnel tab. Welcome, Isabel Galvez, Hannah McMillen, Max Denn, Chris Poulos, Alex Pfeffer, Emily Ruiz and Maddie Schuch!

Jackson Group 2021

EVEN FERWEDA WINS AWARD FROM SACP

Evan Ferweda 2020 Congratulations, Evan, for receiving the College Chemistry Award from the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP), 2021. The award is given to "recognize the student’s demonstrated excellence in performance and high achievements in the field of chemistry." Evan conducted undergraduate research on the evaporation of ignitable liquids. Well done, Evan!

ZACHARY SASIENE GRADUATES WITH PHD (MAY 2021)

Zach portrait
Congratulations to Zach for passing your PhD defense and graduating this spring. Zach will be heading the New Mexico to conduct a postdoctoral research position in the Bioenergy and Biome Sciences Group at Los Alamos National Lab (LANL). Zach has, so far, authored 3 manuscripts and co-authored 9 manuscripts in his 5 years in the Jackson group. Zach has also provided kind mentorship and leadership to undergraduate students and new graduate students in the group. We wish him all the best at LANL.

DR. JACKSON PRESENTS WEBINAR ON MS OF EMERGING DRUGS (MAR 2021)

On Friday, March 5th, Dr. Jackson presented a 1-hr webinar titled Structural Characterization of Emerging Synthetic Drugs using Mass Spectrometry to more than 200 attendees. The webinar was hosted by RTI's Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE) and is viewable at this archive link. The webinar describes the use of isotope labeling, multi-stage mass spectrometry (MSn), ion spectroscopy, and accurate mass measurements with high resolution mass spectrometry to demonstrate some important—and previously unidentified—rearrangement mechanisms in the spectra of cathinones and fentanyl analogs. Although many of the employed instrumental techniques are not available to practitioners, the results provide compelling evidence to support the fragmentation mechanisms and pathways observed every day by practitioners.
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2020

ZACH SASIENE AND MARIO MENDIS RECEIVE AWARDS (OCT 2020)

Mario portrait 2021 Zach Sasiene portrait Congratulations, Zach, for receiving the John R. Conard Fellowship for research, scholarship, and service in the WVU C. Eugene Bennett Chemistry. Congratulations to Mario, too, for receiving the 2020 C. Eugene Bennett Fellowship fro m the C. Eugene D epartment of Chemistry at WVU. The award is given "to recognize graduate students who made impactful contributions to research, scholarship, and service in the previous year."

CTD MANUSCRIPT FEATURED ON THE COVER OF JASMS (OCT 2020)

CTD of GAGs cover The Jackson group's most recent publication, a collaborative project with Prof. Jon Amster at the University of Georgia, is featured on the front cover of the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry. The work describes the ability to determine the structure of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) on a bench-top 3D ion trap mass spectrometer equipped with charge transfer dissociation (CTD). The results are compared with EDD of the same standards on an FTICR mass spectrometer at Georgia Tech. The work was funded by NSF and features Praneeth (Mario) Mendis and Zachary Sasiene. (Click image to see full resolution)

DR. JACKSON PRESENTS POSTER ON THE HISTORY OF FORENSIC MASS SPECTROMETRY AT THE 2020 ASMS REBOOT (JUN 2020)

In his role on the history committee for ASMS, Dr. Jackson coauthored the first "historical applications" poster for the history committee. PDFs of the two-panel poster and accompanying references are on the ASMS website or here. The history committee is now following up with additional specialized posters, like the history of environmental applications. History of Forensic MS Poster, ASMS 2020

J. TYLER DAVIDSON FIRST TO GRADUATE WITH A PHD IN FORENSIC SCIENCE FROM WVU (MAY 2020)

Congratulations to Tyler for successfully defending his dissertation titled, "Structural Characterization of Emerging Synthetic Drugs". Tyler was featured in a " meet the grads" video, and he started his independent career as a tenure-track assistant professor in the forensic science program at Sam Houston State University in August 2020. We wish Tyler all the best, and we look forward to seeing his career evolve.

SAM MEHNERT NAMED ONE OF WVU'S OUTSTANDING GRADUATES (APR 2020)

Congratulations to Sam for being named a "WVU Foundation Outstanding Graduate" by the Honors College. Sam will be starting a PhD in Chemistry at Purdue University in the fall.

J. TYLER DAVIDSON WINS FORENSIC SCIENCE FOUNDATION (FSF) EMERGING FORENSIC SCIENTIST AWARD (APR 2020)

Tyler Davidson Tyler was one of three recipients from more than 100 applicants by a panel of judges for his oral presentation at the 2020 AAFS Annual Meeting in Anaheim, CA. His presentation was titled “On the Fragmentation Behavior of Fentanyl and Its Analogs in Electrospray Ionization-Tandem Mass Spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS).” Tyler recently defended his PhD dissertation and will among the first graduates of the PhD program in Forensic and Investigative Science at WVU.

Tyler also won first place for the best oral presentation at WVU's online forensic graduate symposium on May 1st. The symposium was attended by more than 170 participants, including more than 80 practitioners from across the US.



2019

J. TYLER DAVIDSON WINS WVU FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP (DEC 2019)

Tyler Davidson
Congratulations to Tyler for his recent receipt of the 2019 WVU Foundation Distinguished Doctoral Scholarship. Tyler is currently completing his third and final year of his PhD in Forensic and Investigative Science at WVU. The Scholarship provide $5,000 to doctoral students who have been admitted to doctoral candidacy and who are working toward the completion of their dissertations during the Spring 2020 term.

SAM MEHNERT AND DR. JACKSON PRESENT AT EAS (NOV 2019)

Sam Mehnert at EAS, Nov 2019 Congratulations to Sam for presenting her poster titled "Development of a Flexible Algorithm for Substance Identification Using Mass Spectrometry" at Eastern Analytical Symposium (EAS) in Plainsboro, NJ. Sam also received an EAS student research award at the meeting. Dr. Jackson spoke in a special session recognizing his former colleague at OHIO, Dr. Peter Harrington, who received the 2019 EAS Award for Outstanding Achievements in Chemometrics.

GROUP PARTICIPATES IN STEM OUTREACH (NOV 2019)

Jackson group at CLES Science Fair 2019
Several members of the Jackson group volunteered to run an activity station at the 14th Annual Cheat Lake Elementary Science Fair. With thanks to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for providing the supplies, The group taught ~80 elementary students how to write in secret code with invisible starch solutions, then make them magically appear using iodine. Many members of the Forensic and Investigative Science (FIS) Club ran a fingerprinting activity station and helped to judge the poster presentations. This year marks the 5th and final year that Dr. Jackson has chaired the science fair.

SciX 2019 IN PALM SPRINGS, CA (OCT 2019)

Mary Kate Donais at SciX 2019 Dr. Jackson again served as the FACSS photographer at the recent SciX conference in Palm, Springs, CA. Video montages of the conference are available on the SciX YouTube channel. Dr. Jackson also: 1) served as co-chair for the mass spectrometry section, 2) served as chair of the session titled "Forensic applications of mass spectrometry," 3) gave two oral presentations on the topic of seized drug analysis using mass spectrometry, 4) served as a judge for the mass spectrometry posters, 5) oversaw the selection and presentation of the inaugural Elsevier Forensic Chemistry awards, and 6) attended numerous FACSS committee meetings as FACSS Secretary.

ASCLD DESIGNATES FORENSIC CHEMISTRY AS A PREFERRED JOURNAL OF THE SOCIETY (OCT 2019)

ASCLD logo The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors ( ASCLD) recently designated Forensic Chemistry as a preferred journal of their society. As Co-Editors-in-Chief of Forensic Chemistry, Profs Almirall and Jackson are proud to be recognized by one of the leading organizations of the forensic practitioner community as a valuable provider of new knowledge in forensic chemistry.

DR. JACKSON ATTENDS MEETINGS IN FRANCE (SEPT-OCT 2019)

David Ropartz, Hagen Buck-Wiese and Glen Jackson collect CTD data at INRA in Nantes, France
Dr. Jackson traveled to France to participate in two different events: 1) to give plenary lecture at the joint meeting on the French Society of Mass Spectrometry (SFSM), the Electrophoresis and Proteomic Analysis (SFEAP) and the Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Analysis (SMAP) congress in Strasbourg, France, and 2) to conduct additional experiments with our collaborators, Dr. David Ropartz and Dr. Helene Rogniaux at INRAE in Nantes, France. (Click photo for full resolution )

GROUP HOSTS RESEARCHERS FROM PROF. MECHREF'S GROUP (JUL 2019)

Yifan and Wenjing visit to Jackson lab, July 2019
We welcomed Yifan Huang and Wenjing Peng from Dr. Mechref's group at Texas Tech. U. to conduct some on-line CTD experiments of different glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). The exchange of information between the two groups was very fruitful, and we look forward to conducting some follow-up experiments to demonstrate the value of CTD for the analysis of N-linked glycans. (Click photo for full resolution )

DR. JACKSON GIVES PLENARY LECTURE AT NIST'S RI2I WORKSHOP (JUN 2019)

Jackson NIST RI2I 2019 Dr. Jackson gave the opening address at NIST's Research Innovation to Implementation (RI2I) workshop. The workshop was held on June 19-20 to address the questions: What can the forensic science community do differently so that new technologies come online faster? and How can we reduce the obstacles to successful innovation? A webcast of the first day's presentations can be found on YouTube. (Click photo for full resolution )

DR. JACKSON'S MICROSCOPY IMAGES USED IN DOCUMENTARY "THE GRIM SLEEPER" (MAY 2019)

Dr. Jackson's videos and microscope images of bullets and cartridge casings were featured in a documentary on "The Grim Sleeper," who was one of America's most notorious serial killers. The documentary is part of a series called The Face of Evil (Season 1, Episode 3), which is available on Amazon Prime Video and IMDb.
The Grim Sleeper credits Firing Pin impression