Illinois State University is the recipient of a national grant totaling nearly $400,000 to aid research and development of new crime scene investigation technology.
The grant from the Department of Justice’s Applied Research and Development in Forensic Science for Criminal Justice Purposes Program, allows for $396,780 in funding for the University researchers who will explore the use of ambient mass spectrometry designed to help detect and identify items of interest at crime scenes.
“What makes our research at Illinois State different is that it streamlines what was traditionally a long and tedious process,” said Assistant Professor of Chemistry Christopher Mulligan, who is leading the research team exploring mass spectrometry at Illinois State.
Mulligan explained that the current protocols for chemicals or substances found at a crime scene involves transporting samples to off-site laboratories and extensive preparation before analysis. His team is pioneering new technology to examine substances in their natural state at the actual crime scene. “The analysis can now be very quick in terms of looking at unknown substances, and very flexible in terms of what can be analyzed. CSI and forensics lab personnel have a really tough job, and we hope that this technology will help them out,” he said.
Findings from this project will be used to develop and deliver an optimized portable instrument for use in crime scene investigation to the National Institute of Justice for evaluation, testing and review. “This research will really help pave the way to have technology that crime scene investigators will be able to use in the field,” said Mulligan.
According to Mulligan, the research will expand opportunities at Illinois State. “This is a chance for undergraduate and graduate students in the Chemistry department to be involved in cutting-edge technology,” he said. “And if this technology gets adopted for use at crime scenes, it will have been developed here at Illinois State University.”