Honors Projects


In recent years, forensic scientists have begun looking at the microbiome as a new possible human identification method. The microbiome is made up of all the microorganisms living on or in the human body.1 It is believed that it may be possible to use the microbiome as a unique identifier, to link cohabitating individuals, or even to connect a person with a specific location. In order to study the microbiome, we must first be able to successfully collect it, and then, release it from that collection tool for examination. This may sound simple, but this area of research is so new, even the best method of collection has not yet been determined. Due to the difference in organisms and size of organisms, it is possible that the ideal swab type for this purpose will differ from the ideal swab type for collection of other biological materials and DNA. Therefore, this research focuses on finding the optimal swab type for collection and analysis of the microbiome. Here, a bacterium, Proteus mirabilis, will be deposited onto each of four different swab types (traditional cotton, nylon flocked, superfine dental applicators, and Luna dissolvable). Then, extraction of the bacterial DNA will be performed for all swabs, followed by quantitation using real-time PCR, which allowed for determination of absolute microbial DNA recovery and comparison of yields across the four swab types.


Biological Sciences


Forensic Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Crystal Oechsle

First Advisor Department

Biological Sciences

Second Advisor

Dr. Vipaporn Phuntumart

Second Advisor Department

Biological Sciences

Third Advisor

Dr. Travis Worst

Third Advisor Department


Publication Date

Spring 4-24-2020