Site for International Forensic Imaging Research
by Staff ◊ Oct 15, 2010
Quinnipiac University’s Bioanthropology Research Institute and the Department of Diagnostic Imaging forged international ties by inviting a researcher from Cranfield University in England to use their state-of-the-art facilities.
Julianna Jones, a graduate student at Cranfield University, recently took advantage of the Toshiba equipment located inside the School of Health Sciences on Qunnipiac’s North Haven Campus to conduct research related to her master’s degree in forensic archeology and anthropology.
With the assistance of a team of Quinnipiac diagnostic imaging faculty, consisting of Jerry Conlogue, Bernadette Mele, Tania Blyth, and Natalie Pelletier, Jones studied the ballistic effects of bullet wounds. She examined which method would be best to show the path of destruction from the entry point to the exit of a body cavity. To do this, the team scanned both ballistic gels that Jones brought with her from Cranfield and three pig carcasses, using methods that included traditional radiography as well as the school’s magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine and Aquilion 64-slice computed tomography (CT) scanner.
In order for Jones to use up-to-date equipment and not be tethered by the restrictions of working in an actual hospital facility, the place for her to conduct her research was Quinnipiac, a school that features such equipment in a strictly academic setting.
As part of her master’s thesis, Jones is exploring how modern scanning modalities might be used as an alternative to traditional autopsies and as a form of courtroom evidence.
“The beauty about Quinnipiac is that I spent hours on the equipment scanning, rescanning. Anything I wasn’t happy with, anything I wasn’t sure of, I could just scan until I was happy and satisfied,” said Jones, who lives and works in London as a diagnostic radiographer.
“We wouldn’t be able to get uncontrolled access to that type of equipment in a hospital,” added Mark Viner, one of Jones’s thesis advisors at Cranfield.
For years, Conlogue and Viner had talked about working on a joint venture between Quinnipiac and Cranfield after first being introduced to each other in 2006. In 2007, Viner invited Conlogue and Blyth to present their work at an international forensic imaging symposium in forensic investigation at the University College Dublin School of Medicine and Medical Science. In addition, Conlogue and Viner have co-presented research on two occasions at the American Academy of Forensic Science’s annual conference; most recently in February 2010 in Seattle.
As part of the school’s partnership with Toshiba, Conlogue saw the Cranfield student’s research as a perfect way to continue to perform “non-traditional applications,” which has included the computed tomography examination of the Egyptian mummy, Pa-Ib, from the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Conn., in January.
“What that really did was open up a whole number of possibilities because we’re currently not doing live patients at this facility,” Conlogue said about the installation of the equipment in October 2009. “Forensics is this wide-open field, particularly in this country.”
Conlogue said a doctorate student from the University of Western Ontario, Andrew Wade, will be using the imaging equipment at North Haven in November to study how Egyptians mummified their dead.
“What we’re finding is students want to come here because of this equipment and the technical expertise of our faculty,” Conlogue said.
The success of Jones’s project and her time spent at Quinnipiac has spurred talks of increased partnership between Quinnipiac and Cranfield.
“The whole experience was really very enjoyable and I felt like I got a lot more out of it than the experiment itself,” Jones said.
Such ideas have included an exchange program that would allow students to take advantage of the counterpart institution’s resources. Viner, whose school has strong connections to England’s military, would love to be able to delve deeper into studying mechanisms of trauma in forensic circumstances to help develop more effective protective and bullet-proof clothing. Viner also serves as a fellow at the Cranfield Forensic Institute through his involvement as the CEO of the Inforce Foundation, an organization that does mass grave exhumations on the victims of mass fatality incidents throughout the world. For more information on Cranfield’s forensic program, visit www.cranfield.ac.uk/forensics. For more information on Inforce, visit www.inforce.org.uk.
The Bioanthropology Research Institute formed in 1998 and is administered through the School of Health Sciences. Ronald Beckett, professor emeritus of health sciences, and Conlogue are the co-executive directors of the institute.
Quinnipiac is a private, coeducational, nonsectarian institution located 90 minutes north of New York City and two hours from Boston. The university enrolls 5,900 full-time undergraduate and more than 2,000 graduate students in 52 undergraduate and more than 20 graduate programs of study in its School of Business, School of Communications, School of Education, School of Health Sciences, School of Law, and College of Arts and Sciences. Quinnipiac ranks among the top 10 universities with master’s programs in the Northern region in U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges. The 2009 issue of U.S. News and World Report’s America’s Best Colleges named Quinnipiac as the top up-and-coming school with master’s programs in the Northern Region. Quinnipiac also is recognized in Princeton Review’s The Best 371 Colleges. For more information, please visit www.quinnipiac.edu. Connect with Quinnipiac on Facebook at www.facebook.com/quinnipiacuniversity and follow Quinnipiac on Twitter @QuinnipiacU.
Photo: Ron Beckett, co-director of the Bioanthropology Research Institute at Quinnipiac University, demonstrates the use of endoscopy as a research tool in the examination of a mummy known as George-Fred to Cranfield University graduate student Julianna Jones using the state-of-the-art Toshiba equipment located inside the School of Health Sciences on Quinnipiac’s North Haven Campus during her recent visit.