Provost, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, Florida International University; Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Emeritus Director, International Forensic Research Institute
Kenneth G. Furton, Ph.D, is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Florida International University where he also serves as Provost, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. He has made important contributions to inventions and innovation in detection technologies including human scent identification. He holds eight U.S. patents and has numerous additional patents pending and is a founder of an FIU startup company Innovative Detection Concepts, Inc. he is the author or co-author of more than 800 peer-reviewed articles, books, book chapters and conference presentations. Furton is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, an ACS member, and chairs the Dogs and Sensors subcommittee of OSAC (Organization of Scientific Area Committees). His research projects have been continuously funded for more than two decades, totaling more than $13 million in external funding. He has shared his expertise in forensic science through hundreds of invited talks nationally and internationally and has testified as an expert witness in dozens of state and federal trials.
General Research Areas
- Analytical Chemistry, Forensic Science, Physicochemical studies and applied aspects of gas, liquid, and supercritical fluid. chromatography, supercritical fluid extraction, solid phase microextraction, forensic chemistry, arson and explosives analysis and canine detection of chemicals.
CARFS Funded Projects
- Advanced Human Scent Identification: A cross-disciplinary study using SPME-GC/MS VOC analyses and Next Generation DNA sequencing techniques for increasing the probative value of human scent evidence (with Dr. Mills, FIU): The “volatilome” of human scent is closely correlated to the skin microbiome ( Verhulst et al, 2010). It has been stated (Shelley et al, 1953) that human sweat has no odor until the skin microbiota begins to break down non-volatile compounds into volatile compounds that are characteristic of human ‘scent’. For example, common microflora such as Corynebacterium spp, Bacillus spp and others are responsible for transforming long-chain fatty acids into short and medium chained products that can be further metabolized and volatilized–volatiles that is often associated with malodor. Skin microbiota, including fungi and viruses, occupy dynamic but unique niches within and on the human body (Schommer and Gallo, 2013). This ‘uniqueness’ can be exploited and applied to forensic identification as was shown in work by Fierer et al in 2010 when they explored the microbiomes of touched samples. Using pyrosequencing technology they demonstrated that only 13% of the skin microbes are common between individuals. They swabbed computer keyboards and extracted the DNA, sequenced and found that the bacterial communities on the keyboards were able to be associated with particular individuals, thus demonstrating the bacterial community of an individual is unique. With the advances in sequencing technology and “multi-tagged barcoding”, it is now possible to simultaneously sequence multiple samples and multiple taxa and/or genes all at the same time. Thus, a multi-taxon, multi-gene, targeted amplicon approach can be applied to characterize the microbiota profiles of an individual that would corroborate and correlate with human scent profiles. A goal of this proposal will be to collect microbiome samples at the same location and time as samples for VOC analyses, perform NexGen sequencing using multi-tagged, targeted amplicon analyses. The strength of this proposal comes in the combination of the techniques, VOC analyses + microbiome analyses that can further discriminate among individuals.