The science of smell featured in Royal Society journal

The forensic research of an FIU team headed by Provost and Executive Vice President, Kenneth G. Furton, has been published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, the oldest scientific journal in the English-speaking world.

FIU Provost and Executive Vice President Kenneth G. Furton at eMerge 2014

FIU Provost and Executive Vice President Kenneth G. Furton at eMerge 2014

The paper, titled “Advances in the use of odour as forensic evidence through optimizing and standardizing instruments and canines,” is based on an invited presentation made by Furton in February of 2015 at a conference organized by the Royal Society.

The Society, founded in 1660, seeks to recognize, promote and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity. This is the first time that forensic science has been a focus for the historic fellowship of distinguished scientists.

“It’s an honor to have been invited and to be among the first forensic scientists to present to the Royal Society,” said Furton, who also is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry and a frequent expert witness in criminal cases. “It is testament to the significant advances being made in the field of forensic sciences.”

Furton’s presented work focused on identifying trace amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that originate from forensic specimens, such as drugs, explosives, live human scent and the scent of death. This trace evidence in the form of VOCs has been used increasingly in criminal proceedings as it can indicate the presence of contraband and can associate an individual to a particular location or object.

The paper is coauthored by Norma Iris Caraballo, Michelle M. Cerreta and Howard K. Holness and is available at no cost through June 29, 2015 on the Royal Society Publishing page.