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Undergraduate Research Center

Miquellie Bonner

  • SOAR Position: Member; Scholars Week Chair SOAR Ambassador (2021-22); Alumni
  • Major: Forensic Science
  • Faculty Mentor(s): Dr. Mengliang Zhang, Dr. Ngee Sing Chong

Current Focus: Novel Method for the Forensic Dye Analysis by Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry

Additional Interests: Clinical Pathology, Gross Anatomy, Anthropology, and Crime Scene Investigation

Project Description

Forensic fiber analysis currently uses many classical methods to create a chemical profile of an unknown fiber found at a crime scene. In court, this chemical profile, combined microscopic images, provide important trace evidence about a victim and attacker’s interactions at the time of a crime. Some classical methods require long sample preparation or cannot differentiate between dyes of the same color. This project aims to use direct analysis in real time mass spectrometry, validated by Raman microscopy and spectroscopy, to differentiate blue dyes of multiple categories with little to no sample preparation.

Why does this topic interest you?

Freshman year, I attended my first forensic science conference in Baltimore, which was intimidating and eye-opening. I interacted with many researchers, including Dr. Zhang, and I became drawn to the advancements in trace analysis. After this, I reached out to Dr. Zhang, where he greatly influenced my interests into textile fibers, specifically. While fibers may be small, they can be easily left at crime scenes and offer a great deal of evidence to help create a “story” of what the interactions of a victim and the attacker where at the time of the crime. By improving the specificity of analysis, the fiber evidence brought to trial can be strengthened.

What are your professional aspirations?

I am actively working to pursue a M.S. program to become an accredited Pathologists’ Assistant. Pathologists’ Assistants primarily work in clinical, surgical, and autopsy pathology laboratories across the United States. I hope to bring a detail oriented eye to gross anatomy and help in the efficiency of the pathology practice. Eventually, I want to use my unique experience from both my undergraduate and master’s programs to teach potential Pathologists’ Assistants who are also interested in working at Medical Examiners Offices.

Do you have any advice for future researchers?

Always remember “collaboration over comparison”. Every student is on a unique path, so collaborate and ask around to get some ideas about what drew them into their projects. You can use their advice to articulate a list of factors to consider when choosing your own interests. This will make approaching potential mentors that much less stressful! Also, mentors want to see you succeed just as much as you do. When they notice that you are inspired and curious, they will provide the tools necessary to succeed. Once you have your project, career goals, etc., you can always use your experience to help students new to undergraduate research.

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Thursday, September 5th, 4:30pm

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Contact us

Jamie Burriss, Ph.D., Director
(615) 494-7669 
Jamie.Burriss@mtsu.edu

Casey Penston, Coordinator
(615) 809-4588 
Casey.Penston@mtsu.edu

Learn more about the URC