Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

John V. Goodpaster

Committee Chair

John V. Goodpaster

Committee Member 1

Nick Manicke

Committee Member 2

Christine Picard

Committee Member 3

Rajesh Sardar


Solid phase microextraction is a powerful and versatile technique, well-suited to the analysis of numerous samples of forensic interest. The exceptional sensitivity of the SPME platform, combined with its adaptability to traditional GC-MS systems and its ability to extract samples with minimal work-up, make it appropriate to applications in forensic laboratories.

In a series of research projects, solid phase microextraction was employed for the analysis of explosives, commercial tire treatments, and entomological specimens. In the first project, the volatile organic compounds emanating from two brands of pseudo-explosive training aids for use in detector dog imprinting were determined by SPME-GC-MS, and the efficacy of these training materials was tested in live canine trials. In the second project, the headspace above various plasticizers was analyzed comparative to that of Composition C-4 in order to draw conclusions about the odor compound, 2-ethyl-1-hexanol, with an eye toward the design of future training aids. In the third, automobile tires which had participated in professional race events were analyzed for the presence of illicit tire treatments, and in the fourth, a novel SPME-GC-MS method was developed for the analysis of blowfly (Diptera) liquid extracts. In the fifth and final project, the new method was put to the task of performing a chemotaxonomic analysis on pupa specimens, seeking to chemically characterize them according to their age, generation, and species.