Forensic Stable Isotopes

Dr. Thomas and Meg Corcoran (UB BS '17, MS '19) sampling the precipitation gauge on the roof of Cooke Hall at UB. The stable isotopes of precipitation contain unique fingerprints of lake effect snowstorms. Photo credit: Meredith Kulwicki/UB .

This project explores natural light stable isotopes to investigate biological, chemical, environmental, and physical processes.

Project description

Light stable isotopes are widely used in forensic sciences (in the broadest sense) to determine habitats, biochemical processes, diets, the hydrological cycle, and climate change. The goal of this research is to use naturally occurring light stable isotopes to investigate biological, chemical, environmental, and physical processes.

Project outcome

This project will culminate in a written scientific report that may be submitted for publication to a peer-reviewed scientific journal. It can also culminate in a research poster presentation at a scientific conference.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment longer than a semester; 6-9 months
Start time Anytime
Level of collaboration Individual project, possible collaboration with a graduate student
Benefits Academic Credit, Salary/Stipend, Volunteer
Who is eligible Students with strong communication and organizational skills, interest in geology, chemistry, biology, and/or forensic science, interest in working in a chemistry lab
Support Funding is available after the completion of the preparation badge. See below.
Goldwater and the National Science Foundation

Students participating in this project might be interested in and eligible for the Goldwater Scholarship and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Connect with the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships to learn more.

Project mentor

Elizabeth Thomas

Assistant Professor


126 Cooke Hall

Phone: (716) 645-4329



To engage with this project, you will work through a series of Project-Based Collaboration digital badges to guide your experience. 

To get started, contact the project mentor using the contact information above to discuss availability and after you’ve received approval, you can start the Project Preparation Digital Badge. Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor

Preparation guidance

Once you have registered for the Project Preparation Digital Badge, you will receive further instructions related to the activities you will need to complete. In addition, you will also complete the following preparation activities for this particular project:

  • Attend lab safety training.
  • Contact the faculty mentor to discuss specific project availability and goals.