Dr Sheree Hughes-Stamm

Senior Lecturer - Anatomy

School of Biomedical Sciences
Faculty of Medicine
s.hughesstamm@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 54443

Overview

Dr. Hughes-Stamm is currently a Senior Lecturerer in Anatomy and the head of the Forensic Biology Human Identification Laboratory.

She received her undergraduate science degree in the fields of Human Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Queensland in Australia, and has over ten years teaching experience in the fields of anatomy and human dissection, histology and forensic anthropology, and forensic biology across various universities within Australia and the USA. In 2012, Sheree completed a PhD in Health Sciences (Forensic Genetics) at Bond University on the Gold Coast investigating forensic DNA typing methods for highly degraded samples such as those recovered from mass disasters, shipwrecks and ancient remains in conjunction with DNA repair techniques and phenotypic SNP analysis.

Upon completing her doctorate degree, Dr. Hughes-Stamm joined the Department of Forensic science at Sam Houston State University in Texas USA as an Assistant Professor of Forensic Science, and was appointed as the Director of Graduate Programs in 2015. Dr. Hughes-Stamm was also appointed by the Governor of Texas to the Texas Forensic Science Commission in 2015, and served as the vice-chair from 2016-2018. She is also a member of the American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS), International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG), Association of Forensic DNA Analysts and Administrators (AFDAA), and the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society (ANZFSS).

Research Interests

  • Forensic Biology - Human Identification
    Dr. Sheree Hughes-Stamm merges her research interests of human anatomy, DNA typing, and forensic anthropology by investigating degraded and challenging biological samples for human identification and forensic intelligence purposes. She leads a research group where the main research centers around improving DNA collection, room temperature DNA preservation, sample preparation, and DNA typing methods for skeletal and highly decomposed tissues for missing persons and disaster victim identification (DVI) applications. Other current research interests include exploring alternate DNA markers (INNULs, INDELs, SNPs) and various Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)/ Massively Parallel Sequencing (MPS) technologies for forensic and intelligence purposes. These markers may be used to identify persons, or determine ancestry or phenotypic traits such as hair, eye and skin color. In addition, she investigates sample enhancement strategies for low level and degraded samples prior to MPS. Dr. Hughes-Stamm also conducts research projects aimed to improve the collection, DNA extraction and genotyping methods from handled items (eg. “touch” samples and explosive devices), and assessing the utility and persistence of body fluid identification markers (miRNA) in environmentally challenging samples using capillary electrophoresis and MPS methods.

Research Impacts

Whether it be routine forensic casework, missing persons’ cases, or events such as natural or mass disasters, military conflicts, or terrorist attacks, the ability to identify a victim or suspect from biological evidence or human remains is of extreme importance.

Forensic scientists may be faced with the task of processing hundreds or even thousands of samples for DNA identification. The enormity of a disaster often results in delayed recovery and processing of bodies. In remote and tropical locations, the delayed disaster victim identification (DVI) response and lack of resources such as refrigerated mortuaries quickly result in decomposition and skeletonisation of the human remains. This leads to severe degradation of DNA in these tissues making DNA identification more difficult.

Therefore, our research focuses on developing and testing various DNA preservation methods, more efficient, quicker techniques to collect DNA in the field, extract DNA from challenging samples, and alternate approaches to genotyping and sequencing in the laboratory for human identification purposes. The combination of these alternate methods for all aspects of sample processing has tremendous potential for forensic application and ultimately criminal justice investigation.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Bond University

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