Mass spectrometrist catches international eye

Flinders PhD student Sathisha Kamanna has won an international ‘best student publication’ award from the American Society of Mass Spectrometry.

The award recognises Sathisha’s exemplary work in helping forensic scientists investigate serious crimes, such as murder, assault or sexual assault.

Last year Sathisha won the ‘best paper’ award from the Australian National Institute of Forensic Science for his paper on using mass spectrometry to identify forensic body fluids, which was published in the International Journal of Mass Spectrometry.

The same paper won the ‘best student paper’ award from the American Society of Mass Spectrometry in 2016.

Sathisha was also the recipient of a ‘best poster’ award at the 5th International Conference on Forensic Research and Technology held in San Francisco last year.

Sathisha is part of a team comprising Professor Paul Kirkbride, Professor Adrian Linacre (both from Flinders University), Dr Julianne Henry (Forensic Science SA) and Professor Nico Voelcker (Monash University).

The team is investigating new techniques that can identify body fluids that are shed during violent crimes.

Although DNA profiling is used to show from whom a body fluid came, it cannot yet determine what type of body fluid is present.

Sathisha is applying his extensive laboratory experience gained in India to develop ways to use proteins present in body fluids to identify different types of body fluid.

The methods that Sathisha has created have been successfully applied to blood stains over ten years old.

They have also been used to detect traces of blood present in fingermarks left at crime scenes and in traces of material present under the fingernails of crime victims and suspects.

“Sathisha came to Flinders as a PhD candidate with extremely well-developed skills and knowledge in regards to proteins and mass spectrometry, which has enabled him to carry out some very exacting and innovative research applicable to forensic science,” says Sathisha’s supervisor, Professor Paul Kirkbride.

“There is no doubt that his skills are at the cutting-edge internationally.”

Sathisha’s work makes use of highly advanced mass spectrometers in the Flinders Analytical and Flinders Proteomics facilities.

His research is supported by the Ross Vining Research Fund, which is provided by the South Australian Government Department of Justice and Forensic Science, with contributions from Professor Paul Kirkbride, the previous School of Chemical and Physical Sciences and the late Professor Mike Bull.

Read more about Flinders’ work in forensic science.


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