Date of Award

Summer 8-25-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forensic Science



First Advisor or Mentor

Mechthild Prinz

Second Reader

Richard Li

Third Advisor

Zoran Budimlija


Forensic genetic testing is an important tool for the identification of victims after a mass fatality event but degradation of remains, presence of PCR inhibitors, and limited amounts of sample can make testing difficult. Standard protocols typically include extraction of genetic material from recovered post-mortem samples, and from ante-mortem reference samples or families of a missing person. This is a time-consuming and laborious process and may result in the loss of trace amounts of DNA available for amplification. Incorporating workflows that bypass the extraction step and directly amplify recovered DNA for short tandem repeat (STR) profile generation has the potential to help expedite the process of victim identification and improve the success rates for small samples. To evaluate the effectiveness of a direct PCR workflow in disaster victim identification (DVI) settings, bone and muscle tissue were subjected to direct amplification for STR profile generation. Furthermore, two possible reference sample types, formalin fixed tissue and slides, and personal belongings such as toothbrushes, hair from hairbrushes, glasses and razors were evaluated with different direct PCR methods. Bone, muscle, hair and toothbrushes were all consistently successful with direct PCR workflows, while razors and glasses were less consistent. formalin fixed samples were found to be inappropriate for use with direct PCR, and should be avoided if possible when constructing reference STR profiles.



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