$40K Awarded to ASU Forensic Department to Continue COVID Research  

News Date
Dr. Javan

Dr. Gulnaz Javan (right)  and Dr. Sheree Finley work in Javan's ASU Thanatos Lab.


By Hazel Scott/ASU

Dr.  Gulnaz Javan, a nationally acclaimed forensic scientist at Alabama State University, and her team will be able to further their research related to COVID-19 thanks to the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF awarded an additional $40,000 to extend the Department of Forensic Science’s 2020 grant of $200,000 until August 2024.   The two-year program is titled “Infusing Collaborations in Forensics for Conceptualizing Student Innovation at Alabama State University (CSI-ASU).” 

“We will be able to continue research into the microbiome of death signatures of postmortem samples obtained at autopsy from COVID-19 infected and noninfected corpses,” said Javan. “This supplemental grant will keep the ASU Forensic Program involved in important research in order to learn more about COVID-19.” 

Javan, a professor of Forensic Science, is the principal investigator of the research. Co-principle investigators are Dr. Robert Green, chair of the Physical Science  Department and Forensic Science Program and associate professor of chemistry; Dr. Cleon Barnett, associate professor of physics; and Dr. Sheree Finley, instructor of chemistry. 

Javan noted that the University’s Thanatos Lab is one of the only two known labs in the United States that has access to study the postmortem microbiome of internal organs of cadavers from actual criminal casework. 

Finley said the $40,000 will go a long way toward continuing efforts to train students as they prepare for careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). 

“I am thankful that the NSF found our work meritorious. We will continue to work hard to produce state-of-the-art research and outstanding student researchers,” Finley emphasized. 

Barnett pointed out that the supplemental funding represents a significant step in ensuring ASU's continuous rigorous training of the next generation of qualified individuals for the forensic workforce. 

“Our students will be exposed to cutting-edge research that will help them solve challenging problems in the forensic science community,” Barnett said.

Green is thrilled about the benefits the forensic biology and forensic chemistry students will continue to receive, which include allowing students to be trained and work side-by-side with STEM faculty on research projects at partner institutions and by contributing to and making use of highly competent experts in FEPAC-accredited programs to publish peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts.

“These changes will bring us closer to having FEPAC accredited programs, which will make our graduates much more competitive in the job market.  I commend Dr. Javan and our team on a job well done to secure funding for the students in the Physical Sciences Department and Forensic Science Programs,” Green added.