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Research Helps Solve Cases

Kortney Powell


Kortney Powell, graduate student and master’s candidate in comparative and experimental medicine with a forensic odontology concentration and graduate student worker in the Office of Community Engagement and Outreach presented his thesis research July 13. The project, entitled “Cementum: Discovering A Methodology Through A Historic Lens,” is a comparative study of cementum, between modern and historic African-American populations. Cementum, one of the four dental tissues, is often used forensically as a mean of estimating age. Powell investigated the best method of practice to observe cementum. Through various forms of chemical staining, microscopy, and 3D imaging Powell discovered a more efficient method.

The research creates a basis of analysis for the continual investigation of cementum as a tool of age estimation. The method introduces a new, cost and time effective method to one of the most accurate means of age estimation.

Forensic odontologists are highly trained professionals who use their expertise to help identify unknown remains, criminal suspects, and trace bite marks to a specific individual. They work closely with law enforcement and the judicial system to help solve cases.

It is hoped that a toolkit to observe dental tissue can be developed as it has never been available before now.