Shari L Forbes

Shari L Forbes
University of Technology Sydney | UTS · Centre for Forensic Science

About

112
Publications
55,088
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
3,354
Citations
Citations since 2017
34 Research Items
1959 Citations
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250300
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250300
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250300
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250300

Publications

Publications (112)
Article
Full-text available
Forensic entomology has been developing globally for decades. Despite this discipline being used in criminal investigations around the world, only a few controlled studies have been performed on human cadavers in human decomposition facilities, with the majority of these being conducted in warm and often dry climates. Therefore, the purpose of our...
Article
The process of human decomposition is driven by biological decomposers, mainly bacteria, vertebrates, and invertebrate scavengers. When vertebrate scavengers have access to a body, they can considerably accelerate decomposition through consumption of soft tissue and dispersal of skeletal elements. Presently, there are limited data available on vert...
Article
Full-text available
Cadaver detection dogs (CDDs) are trained to locate human remains and/or objects associated with human remains. This is possible due to their extraordinary olfactory capabilities compared to those of humans. To reinforce this capability, CDDs must be trained and regularly exposed to the target odor in the form of training aids which include—chemica...
Article
In the electronic nose (e-nose), a stable feature representation of the gas sensor's response is a key step to realize subsequent odor identification algorithms. However, the noises in gas sensors hinder the acquisition of such features. In order to solve this problem, this article proposes a stable feature extraction algorithm which takes the impu...
Article
Decomposition of human remains is a complex process impacted by many intrinsic and extrinsic factors. A less‐studied extrinsic factor in forensic taphonomy are the scavengers that consume soft and hard tissue. Scavengers physically degrade and remove soft tissue, disperse, and destroy skeletal elements, which can make locating remains challenging....
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: Human decomposition is influenced by intrinsic and extrinsic factors including entomological activity, which can result in variability in the decomposition process. In death investigations, forensic entomology, the study of insects in a legal context, is the preferred method to estimate a post-mortem interval after pathologist methods...
Article
The occurrence of mass disasters has increased worldwide due to changing environments from global warming and a heightened threat of terrorism acts. When these disasters strike, it is imperative to rapidly locate and recover human victims, both the living and deceased. While search and rescue dogs are used to locate the living, cadaver detection do...
Article
Traditionally, the post-mortem interval (PMI) is determined using methods such as forensic entomology or forensic pathology, however these techniques are often limited to a particular post-mortem window of up to 72 – 120 hours after death. In this study, lipids extracted from decomposing human tissue were investigated as potential soft-tissue bioma...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: Human decomposition is influenced by intrinsic and extrinsic factors including entomological activity, which can result in variability in the decomposition process. In death investigations, forensic entomology, the study of insects in a legal context, is the preferred method to estimate a post-mortem interval after pathologist methods...
Article
Forensic investigations of single and mass graves often use surface anomalies, including changes to soil and vegetation conditions, to identify potential grave locations. Though numerous resources describe surface anomalies in grave detection, few studies formally investigate the rate at which the surface anomalies return to a natural state; hence,...
Article
This paper presented an efficient electronic nose (e-nose) system, named “NOS.E”, for odour analysis and assessment. In addition to the reliable hardware and software designs, an airflow intake system is implemented to ensure the precise odour analysis procedure in the NOS.E system. Besides, a particular control logic was introduced to improve the...
Article
This project aimed to collect and analyze odour profiles from whole human cadavers across various seasons, to contribute to the understanding of the different volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced in human decomposition. This research will ultimately enhance our understanding of the key VOCs used by cadaver-detection dogs to locate human remai...
Article
Cadaver-detection dogs (also known as human remains detection dogs) are used worldwide to locate deceased victims and human remains. Ethical restrictions often prevent the dog handlers from using cadavers as training aids, resulting in a reliance on pseudoscents or human tissues, such as blood, bone, and decomposition fluid. Often these aids must b...
Article
The detection and analysis of explosives and explosive-related compounds is a heightened priority in recent years for homeland security and counter-terrorism applications. This study aimed to evaluate the use of a commercial Lab-On-a-Chip (LOC) instrument for the analysis of explosive vapours, with the long-term goal of developing a portable instru...
Article
Full-text available
Previous studies of fabric degradation have shown promising results for post-mortem interval estimations based on differences in the degradation states of clothing in the presence of decomposing remains. It is crucial to determine if a body was present when using the degradation state as an indicator of time since death. For this study, fabric samp...
Article
This paper presents a novel electronic nose (E-nose) data pre-processing method, based on a recently developed non-parametric kernel-based modelling (KBM) approach. The proposed method is tested by an automated odour detection and classification system, named “NOS.E” developed by the NOS.E team in University of Technology Sydney. Experimental resul...
Article
Full-text available
In cases of suspected arson, a body may be intentionally burnt to cause loss of life, dispose of remains, or conceal identification. A primary focus of a fire investigation, particularly involving human remains, is to establish the cause of the fire; this often includes the forensic analysis of fire debris for the detection of ignitable liquid resi...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We present a practical electronic nose (e-nose) sys-tem, NOS.E, for the rapid detection and identification of human health conditions. By detecting the changes in the composition of an individual's respiratory gases, which have been shown to be linked to changes in metabolism, e-nose systems can be used to characterize the physical health condition...
Article
Blood-detection dogs are trained to locate blood evidence and search for potential crime scenes in cases where a cadaver may not be present. The locations of crime scenes are often ambiguous and evidence may not always be obvious during initial processing. In cases of foul play, a criminal may attempt to clean biological evidence from a crime scene...
Article
One of the key elements in a criminal death investigation is the estimation of time since death, as this information can assist with identifying the victim and prosecuting an offender. Estimating post-mortem interval (PMI) is a challenging task given the many variables that act on the rate and process of decomposition. This review presents current...
Article
Full-text available
Cadaver-detection dogs are trained to locate victim remains; however, their training is challenging owing to limited access to human remains. Animal analogues, such as pigs, are typically used as alternative training aids. This project aimed to compare the visual decomposition and volatile organic compound (VOC) profile of human and pig remains in...
Article
Full-text available
Electronic nose devices consisting of a matrix of sensors to sense the smell of various target gases have received considerable attention during the past two decades. This paper presents an efficient classification algorithm for a self-designed electronic nose, which integrates both genetic algorithms (GAs) and fuzzy support vector machines (FSVMs)...
Article
At outdoor crime scenes, cadaver-detection and blood-detection dogs may be tasked with locating blood that is days, weeks or months old. Although it is known that the odour profile of blood will change during this time, it is currently unknown how the profile changes when exposed to the environment. Such variables must be studied in order to unders...
Article
Full-text available
The ability of cadaver-detection dogs to locate human remains relies on their recognition of decomposition odour, which is comprised of a complex mixture of volatile organic compounds. Numerous studies have focused on characterising the decomposition odour profile; however, little is known about the odour produced from remains that have been burnt...
Article
Abstract Cadaver-detection dogs are employed by law enforcement agencies to locate human remains in cases of missing persons, suspected homicides and following natural or man-made disasters. The ability of cadaver-detection dogs to locate human remains relies heavily on the use of effective and reliable training aids. Cadaver-detection dogs may be...
Article
Textiles are a valuable source of forensic evidence and the nature and condition of textiles collected from a crime scene can assist investigators in determining the nature of the death and aid in the identification of the victim. Until now, much of the knowledge of textile degradation in forensic contexts has been based on the visual inspection of...
Article
The complex process of cadaveric decomposition releases diverse volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as by-products. These VOCs are significant in forensic science as the odour they comprise can be tracked by trained canines when searching for human remains in cases of missing persons, homicide, or mass disaster. Although this is an emerging area of r...
Chapter
This chapter focuses on the autolytic and putrefactive processes, as the microscopic post-mortem changes that occur throughout the chemical degradation of soft tissue predominantly result from autolysis and putrefaction. The processes of autolysis and putrefaction are collectively referred to as decomposition, although the term decomposition should...
Chapter
The detection of clandestine graves or concealed remains can pose a challenge to investigators. Research into the chemical signatures of decomposition, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), can aid in the development of improved methods for the detection of remains and can further the understanding of decomposition processes. Over the last d...
Chapter
Most decomposition studies investigate soft tissue degradation in the presence of insects, however several studies have shown that when insect activity is excluded from carcasses, the rate of decomposition slows down. The goal of this study was to explore the effect of insect activity on the chemical properties of decomposition fluid. Fluid was col...
Article
Full-text available
At present, gas chromatography–quadrupole mass spectrometry (GC-qMS) is considered the gold standard amongst analytical techniques for fire debris analysis in forensic laboratories worldwide, specifically for the detection and classification of ignitable liquids. Due to the highly complex and unpredictable nature of fire debris, traditional one-dim...
Article
Cadaver-detection dogs are a preferred search tool utilised by law enforcement agencies for the purposes of locating victim remains due to their efficiency and minimal disturbance to the crime scene. In Australia, a specific group of these canines are blood-detection dogs, which are trained to detect and locate blood evidence and search potential c...
Article
The introduction of cadaveric material creates a localized surge of nutrients into the surrounding environment, which can have a profound effect on soil and vegetation in contact with the cadaver. Nutrient dynamics may assist in identifying the original deposition site of remains when scavenging has occurred, or where remains have been relocated to...
Article
Illegal poaching causes great harm to species diversity and conservation. A vast amount of money is involved in the trade of illegal or forged animal parts worldwide. In many cases the suspected animal part is unidentifiable and requires costly and invasive laboratory analysis such as isotopic fingerprinting or DNA testing. The lack of rapid and ac...
Article
Chronic pulmonary infections are the principal cause of morbidity and mortality in individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF). Due to the polymicrobial nature of these infections, the identification of the particular bacterial species responsible is an essential step in diagnosis and treatment. Current diagnostic procedures are time-consuming, and can a...
Article
Full-text available
Following a mass disaster, it is important that victims are rapidly located as the chances of survival decrease greatly after approximately 48 h. Urban search and rescue (USAR) teams may use a range of tools to assist their efforts but detector dogs still remain one of the most effective search tools to locate victims of mass disasters. USAR teams...
Article
Human remains detection (HRD) dogs are recognised as a valuable and non-invasive search method for remains concealed in many different environments, including clandestine graves. However, the search for buried remains can be a challenging task as minimal odour may be available at the grave surface for detection by the dogs. Handlers often use a soi...
Chapter
Full-text available
Bodies are often disposed of clandestinely in environments allowing direct contact with soil yet the impact of cadaver decomposition on the surrounding environment remains generally poorly studied. The microbial load associated with a decomposing body is substantial and it is believed that decomposition has a notable impact on the surrounding soil...
Article
Cadaver-detection dogs are regularly used by police and emergency services to locate human remains. Because of ethical restrictions, the dogs are not trained using cadavers, but instead, on pseudo-scents or human tissues, such as blood, bone, and decomposition fluid. However, the accuracy of these training aids as substitutes for human remains is u...
Article
Postmortem microorganisms are increasingly recognized for their potential to serve as physical evidence. Yet, we still understand little about the ecology of postmortem microbes, particularly those associated with the skin and larval masses. We conducted an experiment to characterize microbiological and chemical properties of decomposing swine (Sus...
Article
Purpose: Cadaver-detection dogs use volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to search for human remains including those deposited on or beneath soil. Soil can act as a sink for VOCs, causing loading of decomposition VOCs in the soil following soft tissue decomposition. The objective of this study was to chemically profile decomposition VOCs from surface...
Article
Purpose Cadaver-detection dogs use volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to search for human remains including those deposited on or beneath soil. Soil can act as a sink for VOCs, causing loading of decomposition VOCs in the soil following soft tissue decomposition. The objective of this study was to chemically profile decomposition VOCs from surface d...
Article
Full-text available
Decomposition odour analysis involves the chemical profiling of volatile organic compounds produced by decomposing remains. This is important for areas of forensic science that rely on the detection of decomposition odour such as insect attraction to carrion, positive alerts of cadaver dogs to decomposing remains, and the development of field instr...
Article
Full-text available
Textiles are a commonly encountered source of evidence in forensic cases. In the past, most research has been focused on how textiles affect the decomposition process while little attention has been paid to how the decomposition products interact with the textiles. While some studies have shown that the presence of remains will have an effect on th...
Article
Full-text available
Security control is becoming a major global issue in strategic locations, such as airports, official buildings, and transit stations. The agencies responsible for public security need powerful and sensitive tools to detect warfare agents and explosives. Volatile signature detection is one of the fastest and easiest ways to achieve this task. Howeve...
Article
In forensic thanato-chemistry, the understanding of the process of soft tissue decomposition is still limited. A better understanding of the decomposition process and the characterization of the associated volatile organic compounds (VOC) can help to improve the training of victim recovery (VR) canines, which are used to search for trapped victims...
Article
Full-text available
This study demonstrates the first documented use of comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography – high-resolution time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-HRTOFMS) for volatile organic compound analysis in the forensic sciences. High-resolution mass spectral data provided higher confidence in analyte identification. GC×GC-HRTOFMS will be valuab...
Article
Increased characterisation of decomposition odour has improved existing knowledge regarding the decomposition volatile organic compound (VOC) profile of carrion. Validation of this dynamic decomposition VOC profile is required in order to characterise the variables that affect their production. This study was performed to determine whether the deco...
Article
Full-text available
The investigation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with decomposition is an emerging field in forensic taphonomy due to their importance in locating human remains using biological detectors such as insects and canines. A consistent decomposition VOC profile has not yet been elucidated due to the intrinsic impact of the environment on...
Article
Cadaver-detection dogs are used by the police to locate missing persons, victims of homicide, and human remains following mass disasters. Training is conducted using a variety of training aids including blood which can be hours, weeks or months old and stored under variable conditions. The aim of this study was to chemically profile human blood usi...
Article
Full-text available
Challenges in decomposition odour profiling have led to variation in the documented odour profile by different research groups worldwide. Background subtraction and use of controls are important considerations given the variation introduced by decomposition studies conducted in different geographical environments. The collection of volatile organic...
Article
Full-text available
Odour profiling of decomposed remains is important for understanding the mechanisms that cadaver dogs and forensically-relevant insects use to locate decomposed remains. The decomposition odour profile is complex and has been documented in outdoor terrestrial environments. The purpose of this study was to perform longitudinal analysis of the volati...
Article
Full-text available
Few studies have intentionally examined the decomposition process when insects are excluded and only one known study has been published that has characterized decomposition occurring under this condition. This study proposes new stages of decomposition to describe scenarios involving the partial and complete exclusion of insects. Pig (Sus scrofa do...
Article
The chemical processes of human cadaver decomposition are complex and not well understood. The study of decomposition chemistry aims to elucidate the postmortem processes, particularly relating to the production of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) throughout the various decomposition stages. The use of thermal desorption coupled with comprehensive...
Article
Decomposition odour and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have gained considerable attention recently due to their use by insects and scent detection canines to locate remains. However, a comprehensive and accurate profile of decomposition odour is yet to be confirmed. This is, in part, due to the geographical diversity in the studies conducted and...
Article
Full-text available
Chemical profiling of decomposition odour is conducted in the environmental sciences to detect malodourous target sources in air, water or soil. More recently decomposition odour profiling has been employed in the forensic sciences to generate a profile of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by decomposed remains. The chemical profile of...
Article
The burial of objects (human remains, explosives, weapons) below or behind concrete, brick, plaster or tiling may be associated with serious crime and are difficult locations to search. These are quite common forensic search scenarios but little has been published on them to-date. Most documented discoveries are accidental or from suspect/witness t...
Article
Ground penetrating radar (GPR) is a non-invasive, geophysical tool that can be used for the identification of clandestine graves. GPR operates by detecting density differences in soil by the transmission of high frequency electromagnetic waves from an antenna. Domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus) carcasses were clothed in 100% cotton t-shirts and 5...
Article
Identifying biomarkers of decomposition may prove to be an important area of environmental and criminal forensics research. Biomarkers released during the decomposition process can be detected in soil as a means of confirming the presence of a decomposition site in the case of relocated or scavenged remains. This study was conducted to characterize...
Article
Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-TOFMS) has been used to analyze complex mixtures of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced during cadaveric decomposition processes. The use of specific mass spectrometric scripting approaches permitted to easily identify gravesoils from control soils. The...
Article
There are many factors which affect the rate of decomposition in a grave site including; the depth of burial, climatic conditions, physical conditions of the soil (e.g. texture, pH, moisture), and method of burial (e.g. clothing, wrappings). Clothing is often studied as a factor that can slow the rate of soft tissue decomposition. In contrast, the...
Article
Full-text available
The preservation of soft tissue is a valuable evidence for forensic investigation as it may provide information about the cause and manner of death as well as the time since death. Adipocere forms from the conversion of triglycerides in the neutral fats into stable fatty acids producing a solid white product which aids tissue preservation. Adipocer...
Article
Taphonomic studies regularly employ animal analogues for human decomposition due to ethical restrictions relating to the use of human tissue. However, the validity of using animal analogues in soil decomposition studies is still questioned. This study compared the decomposition of skeletal muscle tissues (SMTs) from human (Homo sapiens), pork (Sus...
Article
Ground penetrating radar (GPR) is a valuable geophysical tool to assist in the search for buried targets, including clandestine graves. Its use in forensic investigations has been limited due to a misconception of its capabilities and a lack of understanding of the limitations associated with its use. This case report details the application of GPR...
Article
The purpose of this study was to determine whether gasoline residues could be detected post-mortem in lung tissue and heart blood of fire victims. The lungs and heart blood were investigated to determine whether they were suitable samples for collection and could be collected without contamination during an autopsy. Three sets of test subjects (pig...
Article
Complex processes of decomposition produce a variety of chemicals as soft tissues and their component parts are broken down. Among others, these decomposition by-products include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) responsible for the odor of decomposition. Human remains detection (HRD) canines utilize this odor signature to locate human remains duri...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The field of forensic taphonomy aims to understand the decomposition of bodies and associated materials in order to develop new means of estimating post-mortem interval and locating clandestine graves. Bodies are typically disposed of in environments allowing direct contact with soil yet the impact of cadaver decomposition on the surrounding enviro...
Article
Cadaver dogs are trained on a variety of materials, including artificial or pseudo scents. The chemical components of commercially available pseudo scents are not known, so their accuracy as a decomposition odour mimic and their effectiveness as a canine training aid have not been evaluated. Two pseudo scents that are commercially available and use...
Article
An investigation of a post-mortem product, adipocere, resulting from the decomposition of a pig carcass left on a soil surface is reported. The presence of this material should provide valuable information for forensic investigators: although a body may have been removed from a crime scene, decomposition products may remain in the soil below and th...
Article
The study of mammalian soft tissue decomposition is an emerging area in forensic science, with a major focus of the research being the use of various chemical and biological methods to study the fate of human remains in the environment. Decomposition of mammalian soft tissue is a postmortem process that, depending on environmental conditions and ph...
Article
In this paper we report the results of our preliminary studies into short chain fatty acids that have the potential to show reproducible patterns over certain postmortem intervals during decomposition in the absence of a soil matrix. Additional compounds that were detected, including several long chain fatty acids, were also investigated for their...