Maiken Ueland received her B.Sc. with Honours in Forensic Science, with a double minor in Chemistry and Biology in 2012 from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Canada. Maiken then started her PhD at UTS under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Barbara Stuart and Prof. Shari Forbes. Upon completion of her PhD, Maiken continued on at UTS as a research associate with Prof. Forbes. She spends a large portion of her time at the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER), assisting with the development and execution of several projects.
Maiken’s main research areas are human decomposition chemistry with special focus on biomarkers in tissue samples and time since death analysis. Maiken also work on research using odour analysis in the investigation of wildlife crime and conservation.
Can supervise: YES
- Decomposition chemistry
- Post-mortem interval investigations
- Tissue biomarkers
- Water decomposition
- Wildlife Forensics
- Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC×GC)
- Time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOFMS)
- Volatile organic compound (VOC) profiling
Knobel, Z, Ueland, M, Nizio, KD, Patel, D & Forbes, SL 2018, 'A comparison of human and pig decomposition rates and odour profiles in an Australian environment', Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, pp. 1-16.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2018 Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences Cadaver-detection dogs are trained to locate victim remains; however, their training is challenging owing to limited access to human remains. Animal analogues, such as pigs, are typically used as alternative training aids. This project aimed to compare the visual decomposition and volatile organic compound (VOC) profile of human and pig remains in an Australian environment, to determine the suitability of pig remains as human odour analogues for cadaver-detection dog training. Four human cadavers and four pig carcasses were placed in an outdoor environment at the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER) across two seasons. Decomposition was monitored progressively in summer and winter. VOCs were collected onto sorbent tubes and analysed using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography – time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Visual observations highlighted the differences in decomposition rates, with pig remains progressing through all stages of decomposition, and human remains undergoing differential decomposition and mummification. Chemical and statistical analysis highlighted variations in the composition and abundance of VOCs over time between the odour profiles. This study concluded that the visual decomposition and VOC profile of pig and human remains was dissimilar. However, in cooler conditions the results from each species became more comparable, especially during the early stages of decomposition.
Liu, T, Zhang, W, McLean, P, Ueland, M, Forbes, SL & Su, SW 2018, 'Electronic Nose-Based Odor Classification using Genetic Algorithms and Fuzzy Support Vector Machines', International Journal of Fuzzy Systems, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 1309-1320.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2018, Taiwan Fuzzy Systems Association and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. Electronic nose devices consisting of a matrix of sensors to sense the smell of various target gases have received considerable attention during the past two decades. This paper presents an efficient classification algorithm for a self-designed electronic nose, which integrates both genetic algorithms (GAs) and fuzzy support vector machines (FSVMs) to detect the target odor. GAs are applied to select the informative features and the optimal model parameters of FSVMs. FSVMs are adopted as fitness evaluation criterion and the sequent odor classifier, which can reduce the outlier effects and provide a robust and accurate classification. This proposed algorithm has been compared with some commonly used learning algorithms, such as support vector machine, the k-nearest neighbors and other combination algorithms. This study is based on experimental data collected from the response of the UTS NOS.E, which is the electronic nose system developed by the University of Technology Sydney NOS.E team. In comparison with other approaches, the experiment results show that the proposed odor classification algorithm can significantly improve the classification accuracy by selecting high-quality features and reach to 92.05% classification accuracy.
Ueland, M, Forbes, SL & Stuart, BH 2018, 'Seasonal variation of fatty acid profiles from textiles associated with decomposing pig remains in a temperate Australian environment', Forensic Chemistry, vol. 11, pp. 120-127.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2018 Elsevier B.V. A methodology to examine the human post-mortem decomposition process has been developed through the monitoring of chemical changes to decomposition fluids absorbed by clothing. Model surface burials using clothed pigs were established during summer and winter seasons in a temperate region of Australia. Three clothing materials were investigated: cotton, polyester and cotton-polyester. Lipid decomposition products were extracted from the textiles and the fatty acid composition measured as a function of burial time using gas chromatography – mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Two derivatisation methods for the fatty acids were compared to establish the most effective approach and it was established that a trimethylsilylation derivatisation method is the optimal preparation technique. The summer trials revealed two rates of transformation of fatty acids from unsaturated to saturated forms, with a faster rate of change occurring earlier in the trials. A different pattern of behaviour was observed for the fatty acids detected during the winter trial, with a decrease in saturated fatty acids initially observed, followed by the conversion of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids until the end of trial. The initial change observed during the winter trial was attributed to a dehydrogenation process caused by microbiological enyzymatic activity. The study has demonstrated the feasibility of examining lipid decomposition products collected in clothing from burials to provide insight into the conditions and length of burial.
Iqbal, MA, Nizio, KD, Ueland, M & Forbes, SL 2017, 'Forensic decomposition odour profiling: A review of experimental designs and analytical techniques', TrAC - Trends in Analytical Chemistry, vol. 91, pp. 112-124.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2017 Elsevier B.V. The complex process of cadaveric decomposition releases diverse volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as by-products. These VOCs are significant in forensic science as the odour they comprise can be tracked by trained canines when searching for human remains in cases of missing persons, homicide, or mass disaster. Although this is an emerging area of research, numerous studies have been conducted to form a greater understanding of decomposition odour and its range of applications. While some of these studies are conducted in laboratories, most are conducted at specialised field sites (e.g., forensic, archaeological, taphonomic, search and rescue training facilities). This paper reviews these studies to provide a critical overview of the experimental approaches and analytical techniques used in decomposition odour analysis. Discussion covers the outcomes of these studies, their contribution to the field, and future directions, particularly the advances in analytical instrumentation currently being employed to provide a comprehensive decomposition odour profile.
Ueland, M, Howes, JM, Forbes, SL & Stuart, BH 2017, 'Degradation patterns of natural and synthetic textiles on a soil surface during summer and winter seasons studied using ATR-FTIR spectroscopy.', Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, vol. 185, pp. 69-76.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Textiles are a valuable source of forensic evidence and the nature and condition of textiles collected from a crime scene can assist investigators in determining the nature of the death and aid in the identification of the victim. Until now, much of the knowledge of textile degradation in forensic contexts has been based on the visual inspection of material collected from soil environments. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the potential of a more quantitative approach to the understanding of forensic textile degradation through the application of infrared spectroscopy. Degradation patterns of natural and synthetic textile materials as they were subjected to a natural outdoor environment in Australia were investigated. Cotton, polyester and polyester - cotton blend textiles were placed on a soil surface during the summer and winter seasons and were analysed over periods 1 and 1.5years, respectively, and examined using attenuated total reflectance (ATR) spectroscopy. Statistical analysis of the spectral data obtained for the cotton material correlated with visual degradation and a difference in the onset of degradation between the summer and winter season was revealed. The synthetic material did not show any signs of degradation either visually or statistically throughout the experimental period and highlighted the importance of material type in terms of preservation. The cotton section from the polyester - cotton blend samples was found to behave in a similar manner to that of the 100% cotton samples, however principal component analysis (PCA) demonstrated that the degradation patterns were less distinct in both the summer and winter trial for the blend samples. These findings indicated that the presence of the synthetic material may have inhibited the degradation of the natural material. The use of statistics to analyse the spectral data obtained for textiles of forensic interest provides a better foundation for the interpretation of the data o...
Nizio, KD, Ueland, M, Stuart, BH & Forbes, SL 2017, 'The analysis of textiles associated with decomposing remains as a natural training aid for cadaver-detection dogs', Forensic Chemistry, vol. 5, pp. 33-45.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Cadaver-detection dogs are employed by law enforcement agencies to locate human remains in cases of missing persons, suspected homicides and following natural or man-made disasters. The ability of cadaver-detection dogs to locate human remains relies heavily on the use of effective and reliable training aids. Cadaver-detection dogs may be trained using a variety of materials ranging from natural scent sources (e.g. flesh, bone, blood or decomposition soil) to synthetic materials (e.g. Pseudo™ Scents). Commercially available synthetic scents often have an overly simplistic chemical composition that is inconsistent with decomposition odour. Therefore, natural scent sources are typically considered to be the most effective training aids; however, there is concern that using individual tissue types as natural training aids may not be indicative of the scent of an intact human cadaver. The objective of this work was to determine how well textiles associated with decomposing remains retain and mimic the odour of natural training aids. To test this, the chemical odour profile of textile samples collected from decomposing porcine remains that were buried clothed in 100% cotton t-shirts was examined. Throughout various stages of decomposition, the pig carcasses were exhumed and cotton samples were obtained. The volatile organic compound (VOC) profile of the textiles was collected using headspace solid phase microextraction (HS-SPME) and analysed using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography – time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-TOFMS). This study provides evidence that textiles associated with decomposing remains may represent a useful natural training aid with a VOC profile reflective of a large subset of cadaveric decomposition odour. The odour profile is dynamic and changes over time suggesting that obtaining textiles from different postmortem intervals would be useful for providing training aids that represent the full spectrum of dec...
Ueland, M, Ewart, K, Troobnikoff, AN, Frankham, G, Johnson, RN & Forbes, SL 2016, 'A rapid chemical odour profiling method for the identification of rhinoceros horns.', Forensic science international, vol. 266, pp. 99-102.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Illegal poaching causes great harm to species diversity and conservation. A vast amount of money is involved in the trade of illegal or forged animal parts worldwide. In many cases, the suspected animal part is unidentifiable and requires costly and invasive laboratory analysis such as isotopic fingerprinting or DNA testing. The lack of rapid and accurate methods to identify wildlife parts at the point of detection represents a major hindrance in the enforcement and prosecution of wildlife trafficking. The ability of wildlife detector dogs to alert to different wildlife species demonstrates that there is a detectable difference in scent profile of illegally traded animal parts. This difference was exploited to develop a rapid, non-invasive screening method for distinguishing rhinoceros horns of different species. The method involved the collection of volatile organic compounds (VOC) by headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) and analysis by comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography - time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-TOFMS). It was hypothesised that the use of the specific odour profile as a screening method could separate and differentiate geographic origin or exploit the difference in diets of different species within a family (such as white rhinoceros and black rhinoceros from the Rhinocerotidae family). Known black and white rhinoceros horn samples were analysed using HS-SPME-GC×GC-TOFMS and multivariate statistics were applied to identify groupings in the data set. The black rhinoceros horn samples were distinctly different from the white rhinoceros horn samples. This demonstrated that seized rhinoceros horn samples can be identified based on their distinct odour profiles. The chemical odour profiling method has great potential as a rapid and non-invasive screening method in order to combat and track illegal trafficking of wildlife parts.
Forbes, SL, Troobnikoff, AN, Ueland, M, Nizio, KD & Perrault, KA 2016, 'Profiling the decomposition odour at the grave surface before and after probing', Forensic Science International, vol. 259, pp. 193-199.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Human remains detection (HRD) dogs are recognised as a valuable and non-invasive search method for remains concealed in many different environments, including clandestine graves. However, the search for buried remains can be a challenging task as minimal odour may be available at the grave surface for detection by the dogs. Handlers often use a soil probe during these searches in an attempt to increase the amount of odour available for detection, but soil probing is considered an invasive search technique. The aim of this study was to determine whether the soil probe assists with increasing the abundance of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) available at the grave surface. A proof-of-concept method was developed using porcine remains to collect VOCs within the grave without disturbing the burial environment, and to compare their abundance at the grave surface before and after probing. Detection and identification of the VOC profiles required the use of comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography–time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC–TOFMS) due to its superior sensitivity and selectivity for decomposition odour profiling. The abundance of decomposition VOCs was consistently higher within the grave environment compared to the grave surface, except when the grave surface had been disturbed, confirming the reduced availability of odour at the grave surface. Although probing appeared to increase the abundance of VOCs at the grave surface on many of the sampling days, there were no clear trends identified across the study and no direct relationships with the environmental variables measured. Typically, the decomposition VOCs that were most prevalent in the grave soil were the same VOCs detected at the grave surface, whereas the trace VOCs detected in these environments varied throughout the post-burial period. This study highlighted that probing the soil can assist with releasing decomposition VOCs but is likely correlated to environmental and burial variables wh...
Nizio, KD, Perrault, KA, Troobnikoff, AN, Ueland, M, Shoma, S, Iredell, JR, Middleton, PG & Forbes, SL 2016, 'In vitro volatile organic compound profiling using GC×GC-TOFMS to differentiate bacteria associated with lung infections: a proof-of-concept study', Journal of Breath Research, vol. 10.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Chronic pulmonary infections are the principal cause of morbidity and mortality in individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF). Due to the polymicrobial nature of these infections, the identification of the particular bacterial species responsible is an essential step in diagnosis and treatment. Current diagnostic procedures are time-consuming, and can also be expensive, invasive and unpleasant in the absence of spontaneously expectorated sputum. The development of a rapid, non-invasive methodology capable of diagnosing and monitoring early bacterial infection is desired. Future visions of real-time, in situ diagnosis via exhaled breath testing rely on the differentiation of bacteria based on their volatile metabolites. The objective of this proof-of-concept study was to investigate whether a range of CF-associated bacterial species (i.e. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Burkholderia cenocepacia, Haemophilus influenzae, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Streptococcus milleri) could be differentiated based on their in vitro volatile metabolomic profiles. Headspace samples were collected using solid phase microextraction (SPME), analyzed using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography – time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-TOFMS) and evaluated using principal component analysis (PCA) in order to assess the multivariate structure of the data. Although it was not possible to effectively differentiate all six bacteria using this method, the results revealed that the presence of a particular pattern of VOCs (rather than a single VOC biomarker) is necessary for bacterial species identification. The particular pattern of VOCs was found to be dependent upon the bacterial growth phase (e.g. logarithmic vs. stationary) and sample storage conditions (e.g. short-term vs. long-term storage at -18 °C). Future studies of CF-associated bacteria and exhaled breath condensate will benefit from the approaches presented in this study and further facilitate the p...
Ueland, M, Blanes, L, Taudte, RV, Stuart, BH, Cole, N, Willis, P, Roux, C & Doble, P 2016, 'Capillary-driven microfluidic paper-based analytical devices for lab on a chip screening of explosive residues in soil.', Journal of chromatography. A, vol. 1436, pp. 28-33.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
A novel microfluidic paper-based analytical device (PAD) was designed to filter, extract, and pre-concentrate explosives from soil for direct analysis by a lab on a chip (LOC) device. The explosives were extracted via immersion of wax-printed PADs directly into methanol soil suspensions for 10min, whereby dissolved explosives travelled upwards into the PAD circular sampling reservoir. A chad was punched from the sampling reservoir and inserted into a LOC well containing the separation buffer for direct analysis, avoiding any further extraction step. Eight target explosives were separated and identified by fluorescence quenching. The minimum detectable amounts for all eight explosives were between 1.4 and 5.6ng with recoveries ranging from 53-82% from the paper chad, and 12-40% from soil. This method provides a robust and simple extraction method for rapid identification of explosives in complex soil samples.
Ueland, M, Nizio, KD, Forbes, SL & Stuart, BH 2015, 'The interactive effect of the degradation of cotton clothing and decomposition fluid production associated with decaying remains', Forensic Science International, vol. 255, pp. 56-63.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Abstract Textiles are a commonly encountered source of evidence in forensic cases. In the past, most research has been focused on how textiles affect the decomposition process while little attention has been paid to how the decomposition products interact with the textiles. While some studies have shown that the presence of remains will have an effect on the degradation of clothing associated with a decaying body, very little work has been carried out on the specific mechanisms that prevent or delay textile degradation when in contact with decomposing remains. In order to investigate the effect of decomposition fluid on textile degradation, three clothed domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus) carcasses were placed on a soil surface, textile specimens were collected over a period of a year and were then analysed using ATR-FTIR spectroscopy and GC-MS. Multivariate statistical analysis was used to analyse the data. Cotton specimens not associated with remains degraded markedly, whereas the samples exposed to decomposition fluids remained relatively intact over the same time frame. An investigation of the decomposition by-products found that the protein-related bands remained stable and unchanged throughout the experiment. Lipid components, on the other hand, demonstrated a significant change; this was confirmed with the use of both ATR-FTIR spectroscopy and GC-MS. Through an advanced statistical approach, information about the decomposition by-products and their characteristics was obtained. There is potential that the lipid profile in a textile specimen could be a valuable tool used in the examination of clothing located at a crime scene.
Ueland, M, Breton, H & Forbes, SL 2014, 'Bacterial populations associated with early-stage adipocere formation in lacustrine waters', International Journal of Legal Medicine, vol. 128, no. 2, pp. 379-387.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The preservation of soft tissue is a valuable evidence for forensic investigation as it may provide information about the cause and manner of death as well as the time since death. Adipocere forms from the conversion of triglycerides in the neutral fats into stable fatty acids producing a solid white product which aids tissue preservation. Adipocere will typically form in water-logged grave sites and aquatic environments. Documentation on the chemical and microbiological changes that cause adipocere formation in aquatic environments is scant and mostly based on observational case reports. The aim of this study was to monitor the early adipocere formation in lacustrine waters to investigate the effect of aquatic bacteria on adipocere formation. Tissue samples from pork (Sus scrofa domesticus) belly were submerged in water samples from Lake Ontario and deionised water (control). Bacteria samples from both water and tissue were harvested. Changes in the fatty acid composition of the tissue were determined using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Early-stage adipocere formation was confirmed on porcine tissue submerged in lake water but was not identified on porcine tissue submerged in deionised water. Adipocere formation required an abundance of gram-positive bacteria during the early postmortem period to assist in lipolysing the triglycerides into free fatty acids. Formation of adipocere in the lake water resulted in a decrease in bacterial concentrations in the tissue over time.
Stuart, BH & Ueland, M 2017, 'Decomposition in Aquatic Environments' in Taphonomy of Human Remains Forensic Analysis of the Dead and the Depositional Environment, John Wiley & Sons.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
A truly interdisciplinary approach to this core subject within Forensic Science Combines essential theory with practical crime scene work Includes case studies Applicable to all time periods so has relevance for conventional archaeology, ...
Stuart, BH & Ueland, M 2017, 'Degradation of Clothing in Depositional Environments' in Taphonomy of Human Remains Forensic Analysis of the Dead and the Depositional Environment, John Wiley & Sons, pp. 120-133.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
A truly interdisciplinary approach to this core subject within Forensic Science Combines essential theory with practical crime scene work Includes case studies Applicable to all time periods so has relevance for conventional archaeology, ...