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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. Development of an Expert Algorithm for Substance Identification (EASI), which was first published in two parts, here: Part 1--Foundations in RRKM theory, and Part 2--Application to the identification of cocaine. This research has also received the 2021 FACSS Innovation Award and NIJ funding.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  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

HANNAH RECEIVES STEM GRADUATE FELLOWSHIP (MAY 2024)

Hannah McMillen portrait
Congratulations, Hannah, for receiving a STEM graduate fellowship award from the Provost's office to pursue her PhD in Forensic Science here at WVU. The award provides a tuition waiver and a generous stipend for up to 3 years. 

ALEX, SARAH AND HANNAH GRADUATE (MAY 2024)

Congratulations to Alex Pfeffer and Sarah Mosinski for completing undergraduate degrees in biochemistry and FIS, respectively. Congratulations to Hannah McMillen, also, for successfully defending her thesis on "The Application of the Expert Algorithm for Substance Identification (EASI) to Predict ASTM E1618-19 Ignitable Liquid Classes from Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry Data of Ignitable Liquid Residues." Sarah will be staying at WVU to complete her MS in FIS with Dr. Speir in FIS, and Hannah will be staying at WVU to complete her PhD in FS with Dr. Jackson.

DR. JACKSON RECEIVES UNDERGRADUATE MENTORING AWARD FROM WVU (APRIL 2024)

GPJ Travis Stimeling Award photo Dr. Jackson received the 2024 Travis Stimeling Award for Mentoring Undergraduates in Research in the area of Physical Sciences and Technology. Dr. Jackson is sincerely grateful to Dr. Richards-Babb in Chemistry and Dr. Venter in Forensic and Investigative Science, who nominated him, and to all the past and present undergraduate researchers for their contributions. In addition to their time and commitment in the lab, many former and present undergraduate researchers were also kind enough to write letters of support. One part of the application included a summary of their amazing accomplishments.

ALEX ADEOYE RECEIVES 2024 FSF STUDENT AFFILIATE SCHOLARSHIP TO ATTEND AFFS CONFERENCE (DEC 2023)

Alex AdeoyeCongratulations to Alex for receiving the Forensic Science Foundation's 2024 Student Affiliate Scholarship to defray the cost of attending the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) meeting in Denver, CO in February. Alex will be giving an oral presentation of her research on the expert algorithm for substance identification (EASI), which she is applying to help resolve and identify structural isomers of drugs like fentanyl analogs.

DR. JACKSON GIVES PLENARY LECTURE FOR TOXICOLOGY WORKSHOP (DEC, 2023)

In December 2023, The American College of Medical toxicology (ACMT) and the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE) presented a one-day on-line forensic toxicology workshop titled" Cannabis and the Expanding World of Cannabinoids." Dr. Jackson was invited to give the introductory presentation with the title "How Did We Get Here? Cannabis Legalization, the Farm Bill, Cannabinoid Analogues, & Chemistry." The live workshop was attended by more than 220 attendees from around the world, and the recording is available for continuing education (CE) credit through ACMT's website.
ACMT Intro Slide

DR. JACKSON SERVES AS FACSS/SCIX PHOTOGRAPHER (OCT 2023)

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 2023 SciX meeting in Sparks, NV, is provided below. This video includes pictures from the 70s-themed gala on the closing night.

DR. JACKSON QUOTED IN NYT ARTICLE (SEPT 2023)

A writer form the New York Times reached out to Dr. Jackson to ask his scientific opinion on how hard it would be for toxicology labs in the US to develop LC-MS methods to detect abortion drugs and their metabolites in human body fluids. A link to the article is here

IZZY, CHRIS, AND MAX COMPLETE MS DEGREES (AUG 2023)

Congratulations to Isabel Galvez, Chris Poulos and Max Denn for successfully completing their MS degrees. All three will graduate in August 2023. Chris has already started a fellowship at the FDA Forensic Chemistry Center in Cincinnati, OH, and Max is employed at the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE) in Willow Grove, PA. 

CHANEY GRADUATES (MAY 2023)

Chaney Graduates
Congratulations to Chaney for graduating with a BS in Forensic Chemistry and a minor in Criminology. Chaney will be staying in the Jackson Group to pursue her M.S. Degree in Forensic and Investigative Science.


GROUP ATTENDS/PRESENTS AT AAFS CONFERENCE (FEB 2023)

The Jackson group gave two oral presentations and four poster presentations at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) in Orlando, FL. 

ALEX ADEOYE WINS FORENSIC SCIENCE FOUNDATION TRAVEL AWARD (JAN 2023)

Alex Adeoye Headshot
Alex Adeoye was one of eight recipients of the Forensic Science Foundation's (FSF) Student Travel Grant. The grant supported the presentation of her research on the Expert Algorithm for Substance Identification (EASI) at the 2023 meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) in Orlando, Fl. The AAFS announced the award winners in the Foundation News in January. Congratulations, Alex!

DR. JACKSON QUOTED IN NEWS STORY ON ALLEGATIONS OF EXPLOSIVES DURING "FREEDOM CONVOY" IN OTTAWA IN FEB 2022 (JAN 2023) Ottawa Police Station image

Dr. Jackson provided some context for a news story in PressProgress about the possibility that some grainy photographs of containers in the lobby of a hotel in Ottawa contained images of hazardous chemicals. PDF

DR. JACKSON APPEARS IN PODCAST SERIES "WHAT REMAINS" (OCT 2022)

Dr. Jackson was interviewed by Amanda Lamb, a reporter for WRAL, for her new podcast series titled " What Remains". The series covers cold cases and the science of human remains. Dr. Jackson described his group's research that uses stable isotope ratio measurements of amino acids in human hair to reveal lifestyle habits and biometric traits about the human donors. Episode 16 of the podcast aired on October 26, 2022 and is available at all major Podcast distributers. WRAL's coverage of the episode is here.

DR. JACKSON'S WORK APPEARS IN DOCUMENTARY FOR SUNDANCE TV (SEPT 2022)

Dr. Jackson interviewed for Sundance TV
The series is titled " True crime story: It couldn't happen here." Although Dr. Jackson's recorded interview was not featured in the final cut, the documentary (s1, e16 on Iaeger, WV)) mentions the important contributions that Dr. Jackson made to the exoneration of Jason Lively in 2020. Jason 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, the National Registry of Exonerations, and Forensic Files II. The story was also described in WVU Magazine in Oct 2022.

GROUP WELCOMES NEW MEMBERS (AUG 2022)

We welcome the introduction of several new group members this year. Alex Adeoye has transitioned from the MS program in FIS to the PhD program in forensic science. Courtney LaPointe has joined the group as a PhD student in Chemistry. Hannah McMillan has transitioned from the BS to the MS program in FIS. Finally, Chaney Ganninger, Sara Mosinski, and McKenna Oaks have joined the group as undergraduate researchers in FIS. Welcome All, and best wishes!
Jackson Group Fall 2022

DR. JACKSON GIVES LIGHTNING TALK FOR ASCLD (JUNE 2022)

Along with Dr. Bob Wright of PNNL and Dr. David Morello of the DEA, Dr. Jackson gave a virtual " lightning talk" on forensic applications of isotope ratio mass spectrometry to the attendees of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD). The series is organized by Dr. Ed Sisco of NIST, who leads the Forensic Research Committee for ASCLD. Previous Lightning talks are archived on Youtube. Dr. Jackson's talk can be viewed on Youtube starting at 8:17.

DR. JACKSON INSTALLS CTD AT UNIVERSITY OF EVRY, FRANCE (JUNE 2022)

Dr. Jackson traveled to Université d'Évry Val-d'Essonne, part of the Paris-Saclay University system on the south side of Paris, France, to install CTD-MS capabilities on a Bruker amaZon Speed mass spectrometer in the laboratory of Dr. Jean-Yves Salpin. Dr. Salpin is the director of research for the CNRS Institute of Chemistry and a faculty member of the University of Evry. The new installation will now serve several different research groups affiliated with the CNRS platform and the University of É vry. Dr. Jackson previously completed a CTD installation in the the laboratory of Dr. David Ropartz and Dr. Hélène Rogniaux at INRAE in Nantes in 2018 , so Dr. Salpin's laboratory is now the third group in the world to have CTD-MS capabilities.
CTD-MS in Evry before installation CTD-MS in Evry after installation Jackson and Salpin in Evry June 2022

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 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.