Alison Beavis is the Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation (FTDi), with a portfolio covering learning and teaching, research and engagement activities.
Alison's primary research interest is in the area of analytical chemistry with a focus on the analysis of forensic traces and how this information is interpreted. She has extensive experience in the analysis of explosives and illicit drugs using various analytical techniques such GC-MS, UHPLC, ICP-MS and advanced MS. Alison leads to the gunshot residue analysis group in the Centre for Forensic Science and contributes extensively in the forensic intelligence space.
Nature Publishing Group
Forensic Science International
International Journal for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education
Australian Journal of Forensic Science
Science & Justice
Can supervise: YES
Gunshot residue analysis
Gassner, AL, Manganelli, M, Werner, D, Rhumorbarbe, D, Maitre, M, Beavis, A, Roux, CP & Weyermann, C 2019, 'Secondary transfer of organic gunshot residues: Empirical data to assist the evaluation of three scenarios', Science and Justice, vol. 59, no. 1, pp. 58-66.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2018 The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences The present study aimed at providing data to assess the secondary transfer of organic gunshot residues (OGSR). Three scenarios were evaluated in controlled conditions, namely displacing a firearm from point A to point B, a simple handshake and an arrest involving handcuffing on the ground. Specimens were collected from the firearm, the hands of the shooter and the non-shooter undergoing the secondary transfer in order to compare the amounts detected. Secondary transfer was observed for the three scenarios, but to a different extent. It was found that displacing a firearm resulted in secondary transfer in <50% of the experiments. The firearm also had an influence, as contrary to the pistol, no secondary OGSR were detected using the revolver. Shaking the hand of the shooter also transferred OGSR to the non-shooter's hand. In that case, the amount of OGSR was generally higher on the shooter than on the non-shooter. Finally, the largest secondary transfer was observed after the arrest with handcuffing with positive results in all cases using the pistol. In that scenario, the amounts on the shooter and the non-shooter were in the same range. This study highlights that the secondary transfer must be taken into account in the interpretation of OGSR. Indeed, an individual's hands might be contaminated by handling a firearm or having physical contact with a shooter.
Popovic, A, Morelato, M, Roux, C & Beavis, A 2019, 'Review of the most common chemometric techniques in illicit drug profiling.', Forensic science international, vol. 302, p. 109911.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The information generated through drug profiling can be used to infer a common source between one or several seizures as well as drug trafficking routes to provide insights into drug markets. Although well established, it is time-consuming and ineffective to compare all drug profiles manually. In recent years, there has been a push to automate processes to enable a more efficient comparison of illicit drug specimens. Various chemometric methods have been employed to compare and interpret forensic case data promptly. The intelligence that is produced can be used by decision-makers to disrupt or reduce the impact of illicit drug markets. This review highlights the most common chemometric techniques used in drug profiling and more specifically, the most efficient comparison metrics and pattern recognition techniques outlined in the literature.
Maitre, M, Chadwick, S, Kirkbride, KP, Gassner, A-L, Weyermann, C, Beavis, A & Roux, C 2019, 'An investigation on the secondary transfer of organic gunshot residues.', Science & justice : journal of the Forensic Science Society, vol. 59, no. 3, pp. 248-255.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Gunshot residues (GSR) are an important forensic trace in firearm-related events. Currently, routine GSR analyses focus on the detection and characterisation of the inorganic components (IGSR). The increasing prevalence of heavy metal-free ammunition challenges these current protocols and there is an increasing interest in how the organic components of GSR (OGSR) can provide complementary information. Similar to the situation with IGSR, OGSR compounds originally deposited on the shooter during the firing process may further be transferred onto another individual or surface. Hence, the aim of this study was to provide additional information regarding the risk of a secondary transfer of OGSR. Two scenarios were investigated, the first one related to the arrest process and the possibilities of a secondary transfer arising between a shooter onto a non-shooter (e.g. between a police officer and a person of interest (POI)). The second scenario concerned the transfer of OGSR onto the non-shooter after handling a firearm for few minutes without discharging it. One calibre was chosen, the .40 S&W calibre, used by several Australian State police forces. A secondary transfer was observed in all cases for the two scenarios investigated, for three compounds of interest: ethylcentralite (EC), diphenylamine (DPA), N-nitrosodiphenylamine (N-nDPA). The firearm handling scenario resulted in a larger secondary transfer to that of the arrest scenario. Overall, the amounts of OGSR detected on the non-shooter were generally lower than that detected on the shooter and controls after the arrest scenario. The results of this study provide complementary knowledge about OGSR, which can be further used to improve the current practice and the interpretation of OGSR evidence. In particular, it highlights that the secondary transfer proposition must be considered during the interpretation of forensic findings, especially when small amounts of OGSR target compounds are detected.
Taudte, RV, Roux, C, Bishop, DP, Fouracre, C & Beavis, A 2019, 'High-throughput screening for target compounds in smokeless powders using online-SPE tandem mass spectrometry', AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF FORENSIC SCIENCES.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Maitre, M, Kirkbride, KP, Horder, M, Roux, C & Beavis, A 2018, 'Thinking beyond the lab: organic gunshot residues in an investigative perspective', Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, vol. 50, no. 6, pp. 659-665.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2018 Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences Gunshot residues (GSR) are a common form of evidence in cases involving questions related to the association of a person of interest (POI) to a firearm-related event. GSR analyses currently focus on the detection and characterisation of the inorganic components of GSR (IGSR), which are typically particles composed of lead, barium and antimony originating from the primer. However, certain particles cannot be assigned to IGSR with a high degree of confidence due to possibility of being derived from industrial or domestic sources. Moreover, the increasing prevalence of the use of heavy metal-free ammunition challenges the current protocols used for IGSR analysis. In order to provide complementary evidence to IGSR particles, the current study focused on detecting the organic components (OGSR) arising from ammunition propellant. As the study focuses on the persistence of OGSR, three compounds well known as being part of OGSR were selected: ethyl centralite (EC), diphenylamine (DPA) and N-nitrosodiphenylamine (NnDPA). The study assessed the retention of OGSR traces on a person's hands up to 1 h after they had discharged a firearm.
Maitre, M, Horder, M, Kirkbride, KP, Gassner, A-L, Weyermann, C, Roux, C & Beavis, A 2018, 'A forensic investigation on the persistence of organic gunshot residues.', Forensic science international, vol. 292, pp. 1-10.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Gunshot residues (GSR) are a potential form of forensic traces in firearm-related events. In most forensic laboratories, GSR analyses focus on the detection and characterisation of the inorganic components (IGSR), which are mainly particles containing mixtures of lead, barium and antimony originating from the primer. The increasing prevalence of heavy metal-free ammunition challenges the current protocols used for IGSR analysis. To provide complementary information to IGSR particles, the current study concentrated on the organic components (OGSR) arising from the combustion of the propellant. The study focused on four compounds well-known as being part of OGSR: ethylcentralite (EC), methylcentralite (MC), diphenylamine (DPA), N-nitrosodiphenylamine (N-nDPA). This study assessed the retention of these OGSR traces on a shooter's hands. The overall project aim was to provide appropriate information regarding OGSR persistence, which can be suitable to be integrated into the interpretation framework of OGSR as recommended by the recent ENFSI Guideline for Evaluative Reporting in Forensic Science. The persistence was studied through several intervals ranging from immediately after discharge to four hours and two ammunition calibres were chosen: .40 S&W calibre, used by the NSW Police Force; and .357 Magnum, which is frequently encountered in Australian casework. This study successfully detected the compounds of interest up to four hours after discharge. The trends displayed a large decrease in the amount detected during the first hour. A large variability was also observed due to numerous factors involved in the production, deposition and collection of OGSR.
Maitre, M, Kirkbride, KP, Horder, M, Roux, C & Beavis, A 2017, 'Current perspectives in the interpretation of gunshot residues in forensic science: A review.', Forensic Science International, vol. 270, pp. 1-11.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The traces produced when a firearm is discharged can provide important information in cases when questions regarding a possible association of the firearm with a person of interest (POI), time since discharge or shooting distance are raised. With advances in technology, the forensic challenges presented by these traces, known as gunshot residues (GSR), are moving from the analytical domain to the interpretation of the analytical results. Different interpretation frameworks are currently competing. Formal classification of particles, using standards such as that produced by ASTM, focusses only on evaluation of evidence at the sub-source level. Another approach, based on the application of Bayesian reasoning - namely the case-by-case approach - has been proposed that allows evaluation of evidence in regards to activity-related questions. This alternative approach allows an evaluation of the evidence that is more closely aligned to judicial and investigative aims. This paper critically presents the state of the art in regards to GSR interpretation in a holistic manner.
Taudte, RV, Roux, C & Beavis, A 2017, 'Stability of smokeless powder compounds on collection devices.', Forensic Science International, vol. 270, pp. 55-60.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The current trend towards the implementation of organic gunshot residue (OGSR) analysis into gunshot residue (GSR) investigation protocols typically involves the sequential analysis of inorganic and organic GSR. However, to allow for the consecutive analysis of inorganic and organic GSR, specimens will often be stored for different lengths of time which may result in compounds of interest degrading. In order to optimise storage conditions, it is important to consider compound degradation on collection devices during storage. This study investigated the degradation over time of compounds potentially present in smokeless powders and OGSR on two collection devices, alcohol swabs and GSR stubs. Over a period of 63 days, the highest degree of degradation was found in the first four days. Interestingly, energetic compounds were generally found to be more stable than smokeless powder additives such as stabilisers including diphenylamine and ethyl centralite, which might be problematic considering that these compounds are common targets for OGSR. The findings can provide valuable information to operational forensic laboratories to optimise their storage durations.
Popovic, A, McBriar, T, He, P & Beavis, A 2017, 'Chiral determination and assay of optical isomers in clandestine drug laboratory samples using LC-MSMS', Analytical Methods, vol. 9, no. 22, pp. 3380-3387.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2017. Many illicit drugs produced in clandestine laboratories exist as optical isomers, and due to their differing pharmacological properties, it is necessary to determine their respective amounts in a sample. Furthermore, the chemical signature of a clandestine laboratory sample could yield information about possible synthetic routes and product origin. The aim of this study was to optimise a method for the chiral resolution of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) and subsequently validate a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MSMS) method for their simultaneous identification and quantification. This study used a CHIROBIOTIC V2 column, which contains interactive chiral additives, to successfully resolve the ATS enantiomers. The correlation coefficients (r2) acquired through the optimised method were determined to range from 0.9956 to 0.9989. Recovery was evaluated at two different concentrations and found to be between 78% and 102%. The method was proved to be fit for purpose as the repeatability and intermediate precision values were found to be below 2.40% and 5.18%, respectively. Five clandestine laboratory samples were analysed using the validated method and found to predominantly contain dextromethylamphetamine in concentrations ranging from 39.7 ppm to 5880 ppm. Dextroamphetamine was also identified in much smaller concentrations.
Hofstetter, C, Maitre, M, Beavis, A, Roux, CP, Weyermann, C & Gassner, A-L 2017, 'A study of transfer and prevalence of organic gunshot residues.', Forensic Science International, vol. 277, pp. 241-251.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The main goal of the present study was to determine the amounts and distribution of organic gunshot residues (OGSR) on the shooter's upper body and clothing after discharging a pistol. A preliminary study was also performed to evaluate the prevalence of OGSR in the general population as well as in a police laboratory environment. In the transfer study, results indicated that OGSR are not only transferred to the hand of the shooter, but also to other parts of the upper body. Thus, wrists and forearms also represent interesting targets as they are washed less frequently than hands. Samples from the face and hair of the shooters resulted in no OGSR detection just after firing. It was also observed that the concentrations recovered from clothing are generally higher compared to the same skin area. Prevalence in both general (n=27) and police populations (n=25) was low. No OGSR was detected in the samples from the general population and only two samples from the police population were found positive.
Taudte, RV, Roux, C, Blanes, L, Horder, M, Kirkbride, KP & Beavis, A 2016, 'The development and comparison of collection techniques for inorganic and organic gunshot residues', ANALYTICAL AND BIOANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY, vol. 408, no. 10, pp. 2567-2576.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Morelato, M, Beavis, A, Tahtouh, M, Ribaux, O, Kirkbride, KP & Roux, C 2015, 'The use of methylamphetamine chemical profiling in an intelligence-led perspective and the observation of inhomogeneity within seizures', Forensic Science International, vol. 246, pp. 55-64.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This study focuses on methylamphetamine (MA) seizures made by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to investigate the use of chemical profiling in an intelligence perspective. Correlation coefficients were used to obtain a similarity degree between a population of linked samples and a population of unlinked samples. Although it was demonstrated that a general framework can be followed for the use of any forensic case data in an intelligence-led perspective, threshold values have to be re-evaluated for each type of illicit drug investigated. Unlike the results obtained in a previous study on 3,4-methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA) seizures, chemical profiles of MA samples coming from the same seizure showed relative inhomogeneity, limiting their ability to link seizures. Different hypotheses were investigated to obtain a better understanding of this inhomogeneity although no trend was observed. These findings raise an interesting discussion in regards to the homogeneity and representativeness of illicit drug seizures (for intelligence purposes). Further, it also provides some grounds to discuss the initial hypotheses and assumptions that most forensic science studies are based on.
Baechler, S, Morelato, M, Ribaux, O, Beavis, A, Tahtouh, M, Kirkbride, KP, Esseiva, P, Margot, P & Roux, C 2015, 'Forensic intelligence framework. Part II: Study of the main generic building blocks and challenges through the examples of illicit drugs and false identity documents monitoring', FORENSIC SCIENCE INTERNATIONAL, vol. 250, pp. 44-52.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Stojanovska, N, Tahtouh, M, Kelly, T, Beavis, A & Fu, S 2015, 'Qualitative analysis of seized cocaine samples using desorption electrospray ionization- mass spectrometry (DESI-MS)', Drug Testing and Analysis, vol. 7, no. 5, pp. 393-400.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Desorption electrospray ionization - mass spectrometry (DESI-MS) is a useful technique for the qualitative analysis of compounds found in seized drug material. In this study, DESI-MS was utilized in the screening analysis of illicit cocaine samples. The technique was also applied to the geographical origin determination of these samples. The limit of detection was determined to be 24.3μg (or 3.47μg/mm2) and the analysis time was less than 1minute per sample. The intra-day and inter-day precision for the detection of cocaine was 11 % and 42 %, respectively; therefore the quantitative data provided by DESI-MS was limited in its use for accurate determination of cocaine concentration in a sample. Using the quadrupole time-of-flight (QTOF) mass spectrometer, the presence of cocaine and impurities detected were confirmed by accurate tandem MS data. The qualitative chemical profiles obtained using DESI-MS were compared to two popular analysis techniques, GC-MS and LC-MS. The effects of a range of adulterants including caffeine, procaine, levamisole, lignocaine, paracetamol, and atropine on the detectability of cocaine were also investigated. It was found that the addition of these adulterants in a cocaine sample did not prevent the detection of the analyte itself (there was slight enhancement in some samples), which was useful in drug detection. The detection of truxillines in the seized samples by DESI-MS aided in the preliminary determination of geographical origin, i.e.,Bolivian, Peruvian or Colombian leaf origin. The application of DESI-MS to the qualitative analysis and screening of seized cocaine samples demonstrates the potential and applicability of the technique to the fast chemical profiling of illicit samples. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Taudte, RV, Roux, C, Bishop, D, Blanes, L, Doble, P & Beavis, A 2015, 'Development of a UHPLC method for the detection of organic gunshot residues using artificial neural networks', Analytical Methods, vol. 7, no. 18, pp. 7447-7454.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The introduction of lead and heavy-metal free ammunition to the market challenges the current protocol for gunshot residue (GSR) investigations, which focuses on the inorganic components. Future proofing GSR analysis requires the development and implementation of new methods for the collection and analysis of organic GSR (OGSR) into operational protocols. This paper describes the development and optimisation of an ultra high performance liquid chromatography method for the analysis of 32 compounds potentially present in OGSR. An artificial neural network was applied to predict the retention times of the target analytes for various gradients for rapid determination of optimum separation conditions. The final separation and analysis time for the 32 target analytes was 27 minutes with limits of detection ranging from 0.03 to 0.21 ng. The method was applied to the analysis of smokeless powder and samples collected from the hands of a shooter following the discharge of a firearm. The results demonstrate that the method has the potential for use in cases involving GSR.
Morelato, M, Beavis, AB, Tahtouh, M, Ribaux, O, Kirkbride, KP & Roux, CP 2014, 'The use of organic and inorganic impurities found in MDMA police seizures in a drug intelligence perspective', Science & Justice, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 32-41.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Traditional forensic drug profiling involves numerous analytical techniques, and the whole process is typically costly and may be time consuming. The aim of this study was to investigate the possibility of prioritising techniques utilised at the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for the chemical profiling of 3,4-methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA). The outcome would provide the AFP with the ability to obtain more timely and valuable results that could be used in an intelligence perspective. Correlation coefficients were used to obtain a similarity degree between a population of linked samples (within seizures) and a population of unlinked samples (between different seizures) and discrimination between the two populations was ultimately achieved. The results showed that gas chromatographymass spectrometry (GCMS) was well suited as a single technique to detect links between seizures and could be used in priority for operational intelligence purposes. Furthermore, the method was applied to seizures known or suspected (through their case information) to be linked to each other to assess the chemical similarity between samples. It was found that half of the seizures previously linked by the case number were also linked by the chemical profile. This procedure was also able to highlight links between cases that were previously unsuspected and retrospectively confirmed by circumstantial information. The findings are finally discussed in the broader forensic intelligence context, with a focus on how they could be successfully incorporated into investigations and in an intelligence-led policing perspective in order to understand trafficking markets.
Morelato, M, Baechler, S, Ribaux, O, Beavis, AB, Tahtouh, M, Kirkbride, KP, Roux, CP & Margot, P 2014, 'Forensic intelligence framework--Part I: Induction of a transversal model by comparing illicit drugs', Forensic Science International, vol. 236, pp. 181-190.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Forensic intelligence is a distinct dimension of forensic science. Forensic intelligence processes have mostly been developed to address either a specific type of trace or a specific problem. Even though these empirical developments have led to successes, they are trace-specific in nature and contribute to the generation of silos which hamper the establishment of a more general and transversal model. Forensic intelligence has shown some important perspectives but more general developments are required to address persistent challenges. This will ensure the progress of the discipline as well as its widespread implementation in the future. This paper demonstrates that the description of forensic intelligence processes, their architectures, and the methods for building them can, at a certain level, be abstracted from the type of traces considered. A comparative analysis is made between two forensic intelligence approaches developed independently in Australia and in Europe regarding the monitoring of apparently very different kind of problems: illicit drugs and false identity documents. An inductive effort is pursued to identify similarities and to outline a general model. Besides breaking barriers between apparently separate fields of study in forensic science and intelligence, this transversal model would assist in defining forensic intelligence, its role and place in policing, and in identifying its contributions and limitations. The model will facilitate the paradigm shift from the current case-by-case reactive attitude towards a proactive approach by serving as a guideline for the use of forensic case data in an intelligence-led perspective. A follow-up article will specifically address issues related to comparison processes, decision points and organisational issues regarding forensic intelligence (part II).
Stojanovska, N, Kelly, T, Tahtouh, M, Beavis, AB & Fu, S 2014, 'Analysis of amphetamine-type substances and piperazine analogues using desorption electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry', Rapid Communications In Mass Spectrometry, vol. 28, pp. 731-740.View/Download from: Publisher's site
RATIONALE: Although amphetamine-type substances (ATS) have been investigated extensively in recent years, scarce data is available on screening tests for piperazine analogues. The need for a universal technique capable of detecting an extensive range of drug compounds becomes increasingly important with the continued emergence of novel drug analogues. METHODS: Desorption electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (DESI-MS) is a technique that allows examination of compounds in drug materials directly from ambient surfaces. In this study, DESI-MS was utilised in the analysis of ATS including amphetamine (AP), methylamphetamine (MA), 3,4-methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA), N,N-dimethylamphetamine (DMA), 4-methoxyamphetamine (PMA) and 4-methoxymethylamphetamine (PMMA), and piperazine analogues including 1-benzylpiperazine (BZP), 1-[3-trifluoromethyl)phenyl]piperazine (TFMPP), 1-(3- chlorophenyl)piperazine (mCPP) and 1-(4-methoxyphenyl)piperazine (MeOPP). Semi-porous polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE or Teflon) sheets welled with a 3 mm hole punch were used to contain the 2 µL liquid sample (spot size 7 mm2). RESULTS: The limits of detection (LODs) of these compounds using DESI-MS were determined to be in the range 0.022.80 µg/mm2. The intra-day and inter-day precision of the technique were <25% and <33%, respectively. DESI-MS was successful in determining the compound of interest and reaction by-products and impurities in the samples tested (such as 1,4-dibenzylpiperazine in BZP samples) with the exception of those present in trace amounts. The effects of common adulterants on the detectability of MA were evaluated. The addition of magnesium stearate to MA significantly enhanced the signal response. CONCLUSIONS: This work has demonstrated the applicability of DESI-MS in the screening and profiling of MDMA, PMMA, BZP, TFMPP, mCPP, MeOPP as well as other complex mixtures. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Stojanovska, N, Tahtouh, M, Kelly, T, Beavis, AB & Fu, S 2014, 'Presumptive analysis of 4-methylmethcathinone (mephedrone) using Desorption Electrospray Ionisation - Mass Spectrometry (DESI-MS)', Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, vol. 46, no. 4, pp. 411-423.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
4-Methylmethcathione (4-MMC or mephedrone) is a prevalent drug of abuse globally. 4-MMC is often marketed as `bath salts and is readily available over the internet. The need for a rapid universal technique capable of detecting an extensive range of drug compounds has become increasingly important with the continued emergence of novel drug analogues. Desorption electrospray ionisation - mass spectrometry (DESI-MS) is a mass spectrometry technique that allows for the analysis of compounds directly from ambient surfaces, reducing or eliminating the need for sample preparation. Although 4-MMC has gained significant attention in recent years, the application of the DESI-MS technique to the fast presumptive detection and chemical analysis of this analogue has not been presented. In the present study, DESI-MS was applied to the rapid qualitative analysis of 4-MMC. A particularly suitable surface, semi-porous polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, Teflon) was utilised, as it generated the least variable signal and reproducibility compared to other surfaces (polymethyl-methacrylate (PMMA) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC)). Selectivity of the technique to the detection of 4-MMC was evaluated by analysing a range of adulterated samples including mixtures containing caffeine, methylamphetamine, cathinone and paracetamol. Specificity based on tandem MS (MS/MS) was also demonstrated by analysing substances with the same molecular formula as 4-MMC. Accuracy (% RE) and precision (% RSD) of the method were found to be within 13% and 38%, respectively; and therefore the quantitative data provided by the DESI-MS method is limited compared to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS; accuracy < 13% and precision < 12%). The results suggest that DESI-MS can greatly aid in the rapid presumptive identification of 4-MMC and other similar novel drug analogues.
Taudte, RV, Beavis, AB, Blanes, L, Cole, NA, Doble, PA & Roux, CP 2014, 'Detection of Gunshot Residues Using Mass Spectrometry', BioMed Research International, vol. 965403, pp. 1-16.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
In recent years, forensic scientists have become increasingly interested in the detection and interpretation of organic gunshot residues (OGSR) due to the increasing use of lead- and heavy metal-free ammunition. This has also been prompted by the identification of gunshot residue- (GSR-) like particles in environmental and occupational samples. Various techniques have been investigated for their ability to detect OGSR.Mass spectrometry (MS) coupled to a chromatographic system is a powerful tool due to its high selectivity and sensitivity. Further,modernMS instruments can detect and identify a number of explosives and additives whichmay require different ionization techniques. Finally,MS has been applied to the analysis of bothOGSR and inorganic gunshot residue (IGSR), although the gold standard for analysis is scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray microscopy (SEM-EDX). This review presents an overview of the technical attributes of currently available MS and ionization techniques and their reported applications to GSR analysis.
Hare, DJ, Lei, P, Ayton, S, Roberts, B, Grimm, R, George, J, Bishop, D, Beavis, AB, Donovan, S, McColl, G, Volitakis, I, Masters, C, Adlard, P, Cherny, R, Bush, A, Finkelstein, D & Doble, PA 2014, 'An iron-dopamine index predicts risk of parkinsonian neurodegeneration in the substantia nigra pars compacta', Chemical Science, vol. 5, pp. 2160-2169.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The co-localization of iron and dopamine raises the risk of a potentially toxic reaction. Disturbance of the balance in this unique chemical environment makes neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) particularly vulnerable to parkinsonian neurodegeneration in the aging brain. In Parkinson's disease, these neurons degenerate coincident with an elevation in brain iron levels, yet relatively little is known about specific regional iron distribution with respect to dopamine. To directly appraise the irondopamine redox couple, we applied immuno-assisted laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry imaging to co-localize iron with the dopamine-producing enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase at the coronal level of the substantia nigra. We found that in the healthy brain the SNc does not contain the greatest concentration of iron within the midbrain, while the dopamine-rich environment in this region reflects an increased oxidative load. The product of iron and dopamine was significantly greater in the SNc than the adjacent ventral tegmental area, which is less susceptible to neuron loss in Parkinson's disease. Accordingly, this `risk factor was elevated further following 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesioning. Considering mounting evidence that brain iron increases with age, this measurable irondopamine index provides direct experimental evidence of a relationship between these two redox-active chemicals in degenerating dopaminergic neurons.
Canning, J, Huyang, G, Ma, M, Beavis, A, Bishop, D, Cook, K, McDonagh, A, Shi, D, Peng, G-D & Crossley, MJ 2014, 'Percolation diffusion into self-assembled mesoporous silica microfibres', Nanomaterials, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 157-174.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Percolation diffusion into long (11.5 cm) self-assembled, ordered mesoporous
microfibres is studied using optical transmission and laser ablation inductive
coupled mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). Optical transmission based diffusion
studies reveal rapid penetration (< 5 s, D > 80 um2.s-1) of Rhodamine B with
very little percolation of larger molecules such as zinc tetraphenylporphyrin
(ZnTPP) observed under similar loading conditions. The failure of ZnTPP to
enter the microfibre was confirmed, in higher resolution, using LA-ICP-MS. In
the latter case, LA-ICP-MS was used to determine the diffusion of zinc acetate
dihydrate, D ~ 3 x 10-4 nm2.s-1. The large differences between the molecules
are accounted for by proposing ordered solvent and structure assisted
accelerated diffusion of the Rhodamine B based on its hydrophilicity relative
to the zinc compounds. The broader implications and applications for
filtration, molecular sieves and a range of devices and uses are described.
Morelato, M, Beavis, AB, Kirkbride, KP & Roux, CP 2013, 'Forensic applications of desorption electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (DESI-MS)', Forensic Science International, vol. 226, no. 1-3, pp. 10-21.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Desorption electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (DESI-MS) is an emerging analytical technique that enables in situ mass spectrometric analysis of specimens under ambient conditions. It has been successfully applied to a large range of forensically relevant materials. This review assesses and highlights forensic applications of DESI-MS including the analysis and detection of illicit drugs, explosives, chemical warfare agents, inks and documents, fingermarks, gunshot residues and drugs of abuse in urine and plasma specimens. The minimal specimen preparation required for analysis and the sensitivity of detection achieved offer great advantages, especially in the field of forensic science.
Morelato, M, Beavis, AB, Tahtouh, M, Ribaux, O, Kirkbride, KP & Roux, CP 2013, 'The use of forensic case data in intelligence-led policing: The example of drug profiling', Forensic Science International, vol. 226, no. 1-3, pp. 1-9.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
To date, forensic science has predominantly focused on generating evidence for judicial proceedings. While many recognise its broader and important contribution to the initial stages of the forensic process, resources do not seem to be employed efficiently. It is often discovered retrospectively that necessary information was previously available in a database or within existing files. Such information could have been proactively used in order to solve a particular case, a number of linked cases or better understand the criminal activity as a whole. This article reviews this broader contribution of forensic science, with a particular emphasis on drug intelligence at the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in Australia. Using the AFP as a model organisation, an overview of the current situation and the contribution of physical and chemical profiling are first discussed. The situation in Europe, and in particular in Switzerland, is also presented. It is argued that a change of attitude towards a more intelligence-led perspective is required in forensic science in general, and in drug profiling in particular.
Stojanovska, N, Fu, S, Tahtouh, M, Kelly, TL, Beavis, AB & Kirkbride, KP 2013, 'A review of impurity profiling and synthetic route of manufacture of methylamphetamine, 3,4-methylenedioxymethylamphetamine, amphetamine, dimethylamphetamine and p-methoxyamphetamine', Forensic Science International, vol. 224, pp. 8-26.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Amphetamine-type substances (ATS), like other synthetically derived compounds, can be produced by a multitude of synthetic pathways using a variety of precursors and reagents, resulting in a large number of possible contaminants (by-products, intermediates and impurities). This review article describes the common contaminants found in preparations of methylamphetamine (MA), 3,4-methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA), amphetamine (AP), N,N-dimethylamphetamine (DMA) and p-methoxyamphetamine (PMA) synthesised via common synthetic pathways including reductive amination, Leuckart method, Nagai method, Emde method, Birch reduction, Moscow method, Wacker process, Nitrostyrene method and the Peracid oxidation method. Contaminants can facilitate identification of the synthetic route, origin of precursors and may suggest information as to the location of manufacture of these illicit drugs. Contaminant profiling can provide vital intelligence for investigations in which linking seizures or identifying the synthetic pathway is essential. This review article presents an accessible resource; a compilation of contaminants resulting from a variety of manufacturing methods used to synthesise the most common ATS. It is important for research in this field to continue as valuable information can be extracted from illicit drug samples, increasing discrimination amongst ATS, and in turn, leading to an increase in evidential value and forensic drug intelligence from forensic drug samples.
Taudte, RV, Beavis, AB, Wilson-Wilde, L, Roux, CP, Doble, PA & Blanes, L 2013, 'A portable explosive detector based on fluorescence quenching of pyrene deposited on coloured wax-printed µpADs', Lab on a Chip - Miniaturisation for Chemistry,Physics, Biology, materials science and bioengineering, vol. 13, no. 21, pp. 4164-4172.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
A new technique for the detection of explosives has been developed based on fluorescence quenching of pyrene on paper-based analytical devices (µPADs). Wax barriers were generated (150 °C, 5 min) using ten different colours. Magenta was found as the most suitable wax colour for the generation of the hydrophobic barriers with a nominal width of 120 µm resulting in fully functioning hydrophobic barriers. One microliter of 0.5 mg mL-1 pyrene dissolved in an 80:20 methanolwater solution was deposited on the hydrophobic circle (5 mm diameter) to produce the active microchip device. Under ultra-violet (UV) illumination, ten different organic explosives were detected using the µPAD, with limits of detection ranging from 100600 ppm. A prototype of a portable battery operated instrument using a 3 W power UV light-emitting-diode (LED) (365 nm) and a photodiode sensor was also built and evaluated for the successful automatic detection of explosives and potential application for field-based screening.
Hare, DJ, Lear, J, Bishop, DP, Beavis, AB & Doble, PA 2013, 'Protocol for production of matrix-matched brain tissue standards for imaging by laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry', Analytical Methods, vol. 5, no. 8, pp. 1915-1921.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Calibration with matrix-matched standards remains the most practical means for producing quantitative images of trace metal distribution in tissue sections by laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). A general guide for producing matrix-matched standards for assay of trace metals in brain tissue is presented. Cortical tissue was taken from pooled sheep brains and spiked with varying approximate concentrations of standard solutions of Co, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, Sr, Se and Zn. The tissue was homogenised and the total analyte amount accurately determined by solution nebulisation ICP-MS. The analytical ?gures of merit for LA-ICP-MS imaging were determined from these tissue standards cryosectioned at 30 mm. Repeated 8-point calibration curves were reproducibly linear, with correlation coe?cients ranging from 0.9874 (Mg) to 0.9991 (Sr). Limits of analysis were suitable for quantifying most analytes in a sample mouse brain, with the exception of Co and Se
Morelato, M, Beavis, AB, Ogle, A, Doble, PA, Kirkbride, KP & Roux, CP 2012, 'Screening of gunshot residues using desorption electrospray ionisation-mass spectrometry (DESI-MS)', Forensic Science International, vol. 217, no. 1-3, pp. 101-106.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Several studies have indicated that there are potential environmental sources of particles resembling inorganic primer found in gunshot residues (GSR); as a consequence examiners are reluctant to unambiguously assign the origin of inorganic particles. If organic gunshot residues (OGSR) were found in combination with inorganic particles, the possibility of environmental sources could be potentially eliminated, thereby significantly enhancing the strength of the evidence. Methods have been previously described whereby GSR specimens can be analysed for the presence of OGSR or inorganic GRS (IGSR). However, no methods have been reported that allow the analysis of both OGSR and IGSR on the same specimen. Described in this article is a direct method using desorption electrospray ionisation-mass spectrometry (DESI-MS) for the detection of methyl centralite (MC), ethyl centralite (EC) and diphenylamine (DPA) on adhesive tape GSR stubs typically used for scanning electron microscopy-energy-dispersive X-ray (SEM-EDX) analysis. The optimisation of numerous parameters was conducted using an experimental design. The results indicate that direct analysis of these organic components of GSR is possible although some limitations were also identified. This initial investigation has also indicated that subjecting stubs to DESI analysis does not interfere with subsequent SEM-EDX analysis of primer residues; therefore the technique described herein allows a comprehensive examination of GSR that would be highly probative in the event that both OGSR and IGSR are detected in the same specimen.
Hare, DJ, Lee, JK, Beavis, AB, Van Gramberg, AA, George, J, Adlard, PA, Finkelstein, DI & Doble, PA 2012, 'Three-dimensional atlas of iron, copper, and zinc in the mouse cerebrum and brainstem', Analytical Chemistry, vol. 84, no. 9, pp. 3990-3997.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Atlases depicting molecular and functional features of the brain are becoming an integral part of modern neuroscience. In this study we used laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS) to quantitatively measure iron (Fe), copper (Cu), and zinc (Zn) levels in a serially sectioned C57BL/6 mouse brain (cerebrum and brainstem). Forty-six sections were analyzed in a single experiment of approximately 158 h in duration. We constructed a 46-plate reference atlas by aligning quantified images of metal distribution with corresponding coronal sections from the Allen Mouse Brain Reference Atlas. The 46 plates were also used to construct three-dimensional models of Fe, Cu, and Zn distribution. This atlas represents the first reconstruction of quantitative trace metal distribution through the brain by LA-ICPMS and will facilitate the study of trace metals in the brain and help to elucidate their role in neurobiology.
Lloyd, AE, Blanes, L, Beavis, AB, Roux, CP & Doble, PA 2011, 'A Rapid Method For The In-Field Analysis Of Amphetamines Employing The Agilent Bioanalyzer', Analytical Methods, vol. 3, no. 7, pp. 1535-1539.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This paper reports the first analysis of small molecules on the Agilent bio-analyser. The Bioanalyzer is a commercial lab-on-a-chip instrument designed for the analysis of DNA and proteins. We demonstrate that the instrument is suitable for analyses beyo
Epple, R, Blanes, L, Beavis, AB, Roux, CP & Doble, PA 2010, 'Analysis of amphetamine-type substances by capillary zone electrophoresis using capacitively coupled contactless conductivity detection', Electrophoresis, vol. 31, no. S1, pp. 2608-2613.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
CE with capacitively coupled contactless conductivity detection (C4D) was employed for the separation and detection of seven amphetamine analogues as well as amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, methamphetamine and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. The separation electrolyte was 30 mM hydroxypropyl-~-cyclodextrin (HPPCD) in a 75 mM acetic acid+25 mM sodium acetate buffer adjusted to pH 4.55. Conductivity detection was compared with UV detection using this same electrolyte. Average detection limits for C4D and UV were 1.3 and 1.0 ppm, respectively. The effects of HPPCO -concentration and BGE composition on the selectivity of the separation were also investigated. An illicit, street-grade sample of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (Ecstasy) and a prescription dextroamphetamine tablet were also analysed.
Moncrieff, M, Scolyer, RA, Thompson, J, Beavis, AB, Uren, RF & Stretch, JR 2008, 'Correct identification of a sentinel node postselective lymphadenectomy using antimony levels', Melanoma Research, vol. 18, no. 5, pp. 365-366.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This study describes a case report where there was uncertainty as to which lymph node was the sentinel lymph node postlymphadenectomy. The matter was resolved by using a novel technique to analyse the antimony levels of the tissue paraffin-em bedded spec
Beavis, AB, Dawson, M, Doble, PA, Scolyer, RA, Bourne, R, Li, L, Murali, R, Stretch, JR, Lean, CL, Uren, RF & Thompson, JF 2008, 'Confirmation of sentinel lymph node identity by analysis of fine-needle biopsy samples using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry', Annals Of Surgical Oncology, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 934-940.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Background: The sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy technique is a reliable means of determining the tumor-harboring status of regional lymph nodes in melanoma patients. When technetium 99 m-labeled antimony trisulfide colloid ((99) Tc-m-Sb2S3) particles ar
Karim, RZ, Scolyer, RA, Li, W, McKinnon, J, Li, L, Uren, RF, Lam, S, Beavis, AB, Dawson, M, Doble, PA, Hoon, DS & Thompson, JF 2008, 'False negative sentinel lymph node biopsies in melanoma may result from deficiencies in nuclear medicine, surgery, or pathology', Annals of Surgery, vol. 247, no. 6, pp. 1003-1010.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
OBJECTIVE: To investigate a cohort of melanoma patients with false negative (FN) sentinel node (SN) biopsies (SNBs) to identify the reasons for the FN result. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: SNB is a highly efficient staging method in melanoma patients. However, with long-term follow-up FN SNB results of up to 25% have been reported. METHODS: Seventy-four SNs from 33 patients found to have had an FN SNB were analyzed by reviewing the lymphoscintigraphy, surgical data, and histopathology, and by assessing nodal tissue using multimarker real-time quantitative reverse transcription (qRT) polymerase chain reaction, and antimony concentration measurements (as a marker of "true" SN status) using inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy. RESULTS: Nine SNs (12%) from 9 patients (27%) had evidence of melanoma on histopathologic review. Twelve SNs (16%) from 10 patients (30%) were qRT(+). Four of these 12 SNs were positive on histopathology review and 8 were negative. Four patients (12%) were upstaged by qRT. Sixteen patients had their SNB histology, lymphoscintigraphy, and surgical data reviewed. Identifiable causes of the FN SNBs were not found after review of all modalities in 4 patients. SNs from all 4 patients had antimony levels indicative of an SN. Of the SNs evaluable by qRT, 1 was qRT(+) and 7 SNs from 2 patients were qRT(-). CONCLUSIONS: An FN SN can occur because of deficiencies in nuclear medicine, surgery, or pathology. qRT can detect "occult" metastatic melanoma in SNs that have been identified as negative by histopathology. Â© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
Scolyer, RA, Thompson, JF, Li, L, Beavis, AB, Dawson, M, Doble, PA, Soper, R, Uren, RF, Stretch, JR, Sharma, R & McCarthy, SW 2004, 'Antimony concentrations in nodal tissue can confirm sentinel node identity', Modern Pathology, vol. 17, pp. 1191-1197.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Scolyer, RA, Thompson, JF, Li, LXL, Beavis, A, Dawson, M, Doble, P, Ka, VSK, McKinnon, JG, Soper, R, Uren, RF, Shaw, HM, Stretch, JR & McCarthy, SW 2004, 'Failure to remove true sentinel nodes can cause failure of the sentinel node biopsy technique: Evidence from antimony concentrations in false-negative sentinel nodes from melanoma patients', ANNALS OF SURGICAL ONCOLOGY, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 174S-178S.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Dawson, M, Doble, PA, Beavis, AB, Li, L, Soper, R, Scolyer, RA, Uren, RF & Thompson, JF 2003, 'Antimony by ICP-MS as a marker for sentinel lymph nodes in melanoma patients', The Analyst, vol. 128, no. 3, pp. 1-6.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
A sensitive, accurate and specific method for the analysis of antimony by ICP-MS is presented as a marker of the sentinel lymph node in melanoma patients.
Van Gramberg, AA, Beavis, AB, Blanes, L & Doble, PA 2010, 'Optimisation Of The Separation Of Amino Acids By Capillary Electrophoresis Using Artificial Neural Networks' in Hanrahan, G & Gomez, FA (eds), Chemometric Methods in Capillary Electrophoresis, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, United States, pp. 169-180.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Many factors can affect the separation performance of a capillary electrophoresis (CE) electrolyte, such as the buffer, surfactant and organic modifier concentrations, pH, capillary temperature, and applied voltage (1). The efficient manipulation of these factors is critical to optimize the resolution of a given analysis in the shortest time frame. During the method development process, an analyst will usually attempt a separation based on a previously reported method that is similar or the same as the requirements of the analysis at hand. If the separation is inadequate, a univariate approach (2) is often employed to attempt to improve the separation. This involves altering one parameter at a time in a systematic way, and viewing the results by plotting the effect of the parameter on the migration time of the analytes. In this way, suitable electrolyte compositions may be found that separates all of the analytes. If suitable conditions are not found, a second electrolyte parameter is chosen and altered in a similar manner. This univariate procedure is then repeated until a suitable condition is found. This method of optimization is time-consuming, and it is unknown if the optimum is truly the global optimum.
Baker, T & Beavis, AB 2013, 'Facilitating transition for both learners and teachers in the first-year chemistry laboratory', Proceedings of the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education, Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education, Institute for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, Canberra, pp. 108-114.
An induction session for demonstrators was devised and run in 2012 to explain changes to the laboratory program in a first-year chemistry subject and encourage demonstrators toward practices that would make the laboratory an effective learning experience for students. The induction session was an opportunity to explore matters relating to expectations: particularly the expectations that the students could have of the demonstrators and the expectations that the demonstrators could reasonably have of the students. The purpose of the induction session was to help demonstrators focus on enhancing the learning opportunities for students in the laboratory, as the practical sessions were the only small-group teaching opportunity in the week. Running this activity, and paying the demonstrators to attend, was a way of honouring the contribution that casual teachers make to our program and reinforces their status as `academics-in-training. The induction session has been run again in 2013, with modifications based on feedback from the 2012 session.
Canning, J, Ma, M, Gibson, B, Huyang, G, Beavis, A, Bishop, D, Cook, K, McDonagh, A, Shi, J, Shi, D, Peng, GD & Crossley, M 2013, 'The nanostructure of silica microfibers fabricated by microfluidic selfassembly', Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering, Asia Pacific Optical Sensors Conference (APOS), SPIE.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The porous properties of self-assembled waveguides made up of nanoparticles are characterised. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) reveals predominantly hcp or fcc packing suggesting a remarkably well ordered and distributed porous structure. N2 adsorption studies estimate a surface area SA ∼ 101 m2/g, a total interstitial volume Vi ∼ 1.7 mL/g and a pore size distribution of r ∼ (2 - 6) nm. This distribution is in excellent agreement with the idealised values for identically sized particles obtained for the octahedral and tetrahedral pores of the hcp and fcc lattices, estimated to lie within and rtet ∼ (2.2 - 3.3) nm and roct ∼ (4.2 - 6.2) nm for particles varying in size over 20 to 30 nm. Optical transmission based percolation studies reveal rapid penetration of Rhodamine dye ( < 5 s) with very little percolation of larger molecules such as ZnTPP observed under similar loading conditions. In the latter case, laser ablation was used to determine the transport of hydrated Zn2+ to be D ∼ 3 x 10-4 nm2s-1. By comparison, ZnTPP was not able to percolate into the wire over the time of exposure, t = 10 mins, effectively demonstrating the self-assembled structure acting as a molecular sieve. We discuss the potential of such structures more broadly and conclude that the controllable distribution of such nano-chambers offers the possibility of amplifying, or up-scaling, an otherwise local interaction or nanoreactions to make detection and diagnostics much simpler; it als o opens up a new approach to material engineering making new composites with periodic nanoscale variability. These and other unique aspects of these structures are embodied in an overall concept of lab-in-wire, or similar self-assembled structures, extending our previous concept of lab-in-fibre from the micro domain into the nano domain. © 2013 SPIE.