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 is Not Currently Available

This project has reached full capacity for the current term. Please check back next semester for updates.

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
In-person, remote, or hybrid?
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
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


Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

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