Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Chemistry


Chemistry and Biochemistry

First Advisor

Murrell Godfrey

Second Advisor

Tracy A. Brooks

Third Advisor

Susan Pedigo

Relational Format



Forensic science is the cornerstone of criminal investigations. Due to the overexposure of forensic science in the media, the true nature of forensic science is often overlooked. Forensic science is a rigorous exacting science that applies methods developed in the wider scientific community to the analysis of evidence collected from crime scenes. As far back as the 6th century people were using forensics to solve crimes. Since then the science behind forensic science has increased exponentially with new methods being researched and developed. This research aims to address two of the larger subsections of forensic science, arson and drug detection. The number of arson cases each year continues to grow and cause hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage. The study conducted in this research aimed to create a preliminary database of evaporated gasoline samples using the internal standard di-n-decyl sulfide. This study shows that by using the internal standard, di-n-decyl sulfide, and the changes that occur in the gas chromatograms of gasoline samples that are evaporated, forensic chemists can assist arson investigators by determining fuel grades, sample origins (gas stations), and gasoline evaporation levels. The remaining studies performed in this research deal with the detection of drugs in biological matrices. A method was developed using matrix assisted laser desorption ionization, or MALDI, to detect the presence of caffeine in fingerprints, sweat, and saliva. An improved method for the detection of marijuana in hair was also performed in this research. The new method developed in this study required fewer analysis hours and detected comparable concentrations (120 pg/mg ± 10 pg/mg) of marijuana metabolites in hair compared to current methods found in literature. Forensic science is an expanding field that requires the assistance from researchers to create new methods and improve old methods.

Included in

Chemistry Commons


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