Current Graduate Students

The graduate students in Dr. Furton’s lab are primarily focused on one of the following research areas: development of human scent as a biometric tool, identification of characteristic volatile organic compounds in drugs and explosives, development of non-hazardous surrogate continuation aids for instrument calibration and detection of organic traces. (Updated: Summer 2021)

Post Doctoral Fellows

          Dr. Kelvin Frank

Graduate Students

Alice Boone

Chantrell Frazier

Chantrell received her Bachelor of Forensic Science with a concentration in Chemistry from Savannah State University in Spring 2016. Through undergraduate research programs, such as National Institutes of Health Minority Biomedical Research Support Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (NIH-MBRS-RISE) and the University of Miami’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), her endearment for research was fostered. With great mentorship and support, she was encouraged to join Florida International University’s Biochemistry PhD program in Fall 2016. Chantrell has been a member of the Furton lab since 2017. She’s currently a Florida Education Fund McKnight Dissertation Fellow, co-advised by Dr. Kenneth G. Furton and Dr. DeEtta Kay Mills and on her Ph.D. project: “Forensic Identification: An Investigation to Corroborate Volatile and Biological Profiles for Subject Identification.” She has presented at multiple conferences and received multiple awards, placing second for her poster presentation at the 2019 SciX conference and placing first for her poster presentation at FIU’s 2019 Biosymposium held at Biscayne Bay Campus. Furthermore, Chantrell’s involvement within the Miami community via mentorship to high school and undergraduate students, community events, and volunteering as a judge for science fairs. She was awarded the 2019 Russell V. Ewald Award by the Florida Education Fund McKnight for Academic Excellence and Community Service.

Leann Forte

Leann is currently a fourth year graduate student working in Dr. Furton’s research group. She graduated undergraduate studies in 2018 from the University of New Haven with a BS in Forensic Science with a concentration in Chemistry. Leann’s current research interest include the development of canine training aid mimics, as well as investigation of controlled substances using Gas Chromatography- Mass Spectrometry. In her time away from the lab you can find her hanging out with her dog Angus, Baking/Cooking or even spending a day in Disney!

Michelle Karpinsky

Michelle graduated from Saint Francis University with her B.S in Chemistry in 2020. She participated in a variety of  research projects with her undergraduate university as well as a collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). There she synthesized graphene oxide with various chelating groups for the removal of aluminum in acid mine drainage. Michelle has two publications coming from the collaboration with CMU, one appearing in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, where she is the primary author. Michelle began her PhD at Florida International University and joined the Furton lab in the Fall of 2020. In the lab she is currently working on solid phase microextraction of forensic substances.

Vidia A. Gokool

At Florida International University Vidia has received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, a Certificate in Forensic Science, and a Masters in Chemistry, and she is currently working on her PhD studies. As an undergraduate student she did work in elemental analysis of glass and soil samples under Dr. Jose Almirall at FIU. Vidia now studies the capture and analysis of trace volatile compounds to understand and improve canine detection. Her dissertation work investigates the utility of human hand odor to be used as a biometric for human identification. This study looks at the process from odor collection to profile interpretation and incorporates new chemometric approaches to compare individual profiles. Along the way, she has developed novel software for data processing and interpretation that have aided our other ongoing projects.

Janet Crespo Cajigas

Janet is from Aguada, Puerto Rico. She received her B.S. in Chemistry at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez campus in Spring 2019 and joined Florida International University that following Fall. Presently at FIU, she is a Ph.D. student in the Chemistry program with a focus on Analytical Forensic Science. Her research interests involve the analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the odor profile of controlled substances, humans, or other subjects and how these compounds can be used to improve upon canine detection. Additionally, you can also find her working on the development of sol-gel based sensors. When not in lab, she can be found buying books she doesn’t need, watching disaster movies, or trying to finish her current paint-by-numbers project.

Basit Olayanju

Emma Calabrese

Emma received her BS in Chemistry with a specialization in Forensics from The College of New Jersey in the Spring of 2020. She participated in a variety of undergraduate research in the areas of both Forensics and Biochemistry. She also participated in an REU at Michigan State University where she assisted on an Inorganic Chemistry focused project. Emma was awarded the Presidential Fellowship and began graduate work at Florida International University in the Fall of 2020. She has since joined the Furton group and has participated in FIU’s Forensic Science Symposium with a poster that contrasted bulk (GC/MS) and headspace (SPME-GC/MS) identification of both illicit drugs and smokeless powders. Going forward with her graduate studies she will be working with Dr. Lauryn DeGreeff on a project focused on the diffusion of explosive odors through soil for application in IED detection.

Click here to see Dr. Furton’s recent peer reviewed publications.