Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Kenneth G. Furton

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Yong Cai

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

David Chatfield

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Watson Lees

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fifth Advisor's Name

DeEtta Mills

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Forensic Chemistry, Human scent, Scent markers, Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), Underarm odor, Hand odor, Solid Phase Micro-extraction (SPME)

Date of Defense



Human scent has been the focal point of diverse scientific interests and research initiatives for the past several years. The knowledge gained about its composition has favored the advancement of multiple disciplines, and promoted the development of a wide variety of applications. Among these applications is the use of human scent as a resource for Forensic investigations, where scent profiles are often used as evidence to associate individuals to the scene of a crime. The characteristic nature of individual human scent has enabled this type of evidence to be used as a biometric tool for the differentiation of subjects. Nevertheless, the present study discusses a new perspective towards human scent's role and application in Forensic investigations. The foundation of this new perspective consists of employing human scent’s biometric quality to classify individuals using common traits.

In this research study, underarm and hand odor samples were collected from Caucasian, Hispanic and East Asian individuals, of both genders. Subjects were also organized into 3 different age groups: 18-30, 35-50 and 55+ years. Headspace Solid Phase Micro-extraction Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC-MS) was used to create individual scent profiles for the evaluation of subject classification by age, gender and race/ethnicity. Individual classification was assessed through the identification of qualitative and quantitative patterns in the volatile organic compound (VOC) constituents that characterize human scent. Principal Component and Linear Discriminant analyses of the collected scent profiles, led to the identification and validation of characteristic VOC marker combinations for age, gender and race/ethnicity. Statistical analysis facilitated group classification and differentiation on the basis of these traits. Moreover, this study also evaluated the use of solvent extraction as a complementary technique to HS-SPME for human scent analysis. Findings from this assessment revealed that the simultaneous consideration of data from both extraction techniques favors an enhancement of the classification of subjects by means of human scent.

The discoveries achieved in this study represent a significant step for human scent as a forensic tool. The outcome of this research has cleared a new path for further human scent investigation, and highlighted its further relevance to forensic applications.





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