We embrace a diverse and experienced faculty with real world experience. These diverse backgrounds ensure students receive the education necessary to apply their knowledge to actual casework and function within the criminal justice system. Faculty and staff within the Department of Forensic Science are shown below:


Dr. Sarah Kerrigan

Professor and Chair
CFS 221H
Bio & Publications

  • Research Interests
    Dr. Kerrigan's interests span a variety of topics ranging from policy to practice. Some of her major areas of interest include:
    • New psychoactive substances (NPSs)
    • Designer drugs
    • Human performance toxicology/behavioral toxicology
    • Impaired driving
    • Alcohol and drug-facilitated sexual assault
    • Alternative and complex biological matrices
    • Maternal-fetal medicine

    Current MS and PhD students in Dr. Kerrigan's laboratory are involved in a variety of projects including the systematic evaluation of cathinone stability, analysis of the opioid receptor agonist and psychoactive drug mitragynine ("Kratom") using high resolution mass spectrometry, desomorphine ("Krokodil") metabolism and analysis, gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) in hair, and the new hypnotic drug suvorexant (Belsomra) in biological evidence.


Dr. Madeleine Gates

Director of FS Graduate Programs
CFS 221D
Bio & Publications

  • Research Interests

    Dr. Gates's interests span a variety of topics within forensic toxicology. As her graduate work investigated synthetic cathinones, or "bath salts", her research has expanded further into designer drugs, or novel psychoactive substances (NPS). She has developed and validated new analytical procedures for detection and quantification of drugs of abuse in biological fluids. Her postdoctoral research at NIH expanded her research interests a bit further to include metabolite identification of NPS, drug detection in alternative matrices (particularly oral fluid), in utero drug exposure, and impaired driving and human performance (particularly after marijuana consumption).

    Her research goals expand upon forensic toxicology knowledge of NPS (including designer benzodiazepines and designer opioids) by examining NPS in alternative matrices and expanding stability studies. She is also interested in detecting and quantifying cocaine adulterants in biological fluids as well as seized materials from a multi-disciplinary angle. Ultimately, she wants to develop that are easily applied to working forensic toxicology laboratories from extraction- and detection-standpoint.


Dr. Patrick Buzzini

Associate Professor
CFS 221G
Bio & Publications

  • Research Interests
    Dr. Buzzini's research interests are geared toward:
    • Forensic applications of microscopical and instrumental analysis methods (i.e., spectroscopy)
    • Various types of trace materials (e.g., paint and fibers) and questioned documents (e.g., ink analysis)
    • Problems of physical evidence interpretation and experiments in the context of crime reconstructions
    • Application of micro Raman spectroscopy in trace materials analyses

    His current focus is on the characterization and discrimination of inkjet printer inks using micro Raman spectroscopy, based on samples provided by the US Secret Service Forensic Counterfeit Section. Another active project involves the study of the degradation of dyed fibers detected by UV-Vis microspectrophotomtery in collaboration with the highly-regarded McCrone Research Institute in Chicago, IL.


Dr. Tyler Davidson

Assistant Professor
CFS 222
Bio & Publications

  • Research Interests

    Dr. Davidson's research interests span the worlds of seized drug analysis and toxicology with an emphasis on the identification of novel synthetic drugs. His experience with seized drug analysis involves the combination of mass spectral interpretation and the use of multivariate analysis for the differentiation of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) with gas chromatography-electron ionization-mass spectrometry (GC-EI-MS). In comparison, his background in toxicology is based on the structural characterization of synthetic cathinones and fentanyl-related compounds (FRCs) with the use of tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS).

    His long-term research goals are to assist the seized drug and toxicological communities through research focused on multivariate analysis of electron ionization mass spectra (EI-MS) for novel synthetic drug classification, forensic applications of ambient ionization mass spectrometry (AI-MS), and novel synthetic drug identification through underlying fragmentation mechanisms. Ultimately, Dr. Davidson hopes to assist the forensic science community by providing solutions for the classification and identification of novel synthetic drugs.


Dr. Rachel Houston

Assistant Professor
CFS 224
Bio & Publications

  • Research Interests

    Dr. Houston's research interests include a variety of topics that range from innovative technologies applied to human identification to non-human forensic genetics. Current projects at SHSU include the evaluation of an innovative DNA collection device with mock DVI type samples, the development of an assay for rapid detection and identification of bio-threats, and the exploration of hotspot regions in the Cannabis sativa chloroplast genome for biogeographic and crop type determination.

    Other research interests include:
    • Exploring the use of alternate DNA markers (INNULs, INDELs, SNPs)
    • Massively Parallel Sequencing (MPS) for forensic and intelligence purposes
    • Developing genetic assays for forensically relevant plant and animal species

Dr. Sheree Hughes

Associate Professor
CFS 221A
Bio & Publications

  • Research Interests

    Dr. Sheree Hughes completed a PhD at Bond University on the Gold Coast in Australia, investigating forensic DNA typing methods for highly degraded samples such as those recovered from mass disasters, shipwrecks and ancient remains in conjunction with DNA repair techniques and phenotypic SNP analysis.

    At SHSU she continues to merge her research interests of DNA typing and forensic anthropology by investigating degraded and challenging biological samples for human identification and forensic intelligence purposes.

    Other current research interests include:

    • Exploring alternate DNA markers (INNULs, INDELs, SNPs)
    • Various Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)/ Massively Parallel Sequencing (MPS) technologies for forensic and intelligence purposes
    • DNA extraction and genotyping methods from handled items (eg. "touch" samples and explosive devices)
    • Assessing the utility and persistence of body fluid identification markers (miRNA) in environmentally challenging samples using capillary electrophoresis and MPS methods

Dr. Geraldine Monjardez

Assistant Professor
CFS 221C
Bio & Publications

  • Research Interests

    Dr. Monjardez's research focus on the opportunities at the intersection of analytical chemistry and forensic science and span a variety of topics. She is currently investigating the application of MS-based proteomics as a tool to investigate forensic problems, such as the identification of bodily fluids recovered from crime scenes and the potential of teeth for protein-based sex determination of human skeletal remains. She is also interested in fire toxicity, more specifically exploring a multidisciplinary approach to determine the role materials' composition play on the health and safety of both firefighters and the general public, and expanding her research on biological toxins to develop improved analytical methods of detection and quantification.


Dr. Jorn (Chi-Chung) Yu

CFS 221F
Bio & Publications

  • Research Interests

    Dr. Yu's research interests include topics in headspace chemical forensics for field analysis and laboratory testing. Chemical forensics deals with the understanding of chemical information of physical evidence to their sources. Headspace chemical forensics is a subdiscipline of chemical forensics which attempts to detect origins or characteristics of physical evidence from headspace chemical analysis.

    Our research focuses on the development of reliable analytical platforms with artificial intelligence (AI) that will eliminate human errors and meet the standards of forensic testing. With the advancement of machine learning for the process of chemical signals, we can make use of headspace chemical analysis for chemical forensics. In addition, Dr. Yu's research group recently explored the application of nanomaterials to enhance forensic testing of chemical evidence.