Dr. Heather Coyle

"Border Security & Drug Trafficking - the DNA Connection?"
Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. in the Marvin K. Peterson Library


There is an ever increasing focus on national security since 9/11 and mechanisms that allow us to perform surveillance or better classify potential bio threats are of interest both academically and in practice. DNA is common place for individualizing samples left at crime scenes and sourcing back to the humans that left them in forensic science; in fact, these technologies are widely publicized and so much so, that jurors are screened for what is called the potential CSI effect before being allowed to serve in the judicial process.

Less well known are the technologies and research that are for using DNA to trace random shipments of narcotics from grower to dealer whether it is within the same town or back to a geographically distant point of origin. The technological advances and techniques that can be used to make the connections across borders will be discussed as well as a short video to illustrate the magnitude of the problem both within and across our US borders. Political and policy issues associated with Cannabis history also will be discussed in the context of our current views of this plant species.

Biographical Information

Heather Miller Coyle, Ph.D.., is an associate professor in the Forensic Science Department at University of New Haven. Dr. Miller Coyle began her career at Yale University as a postdoctoral student in corn genetics, moved on to work at the Connecticut Division of Scientific Services Forensic Laboratory in Meriden, CT where the Cannabis tracking project began with NIJ research funding. The project continues at University of New Haven with ONDCP-HIDTA funding as the genetics of Cannabis is being deciphered by students and applied to solve real forensic issues.

Dr. Miller Coyle has a Bachelor of Science degree from SUNY Plattsburgh, and a Master of Science and Ph.D., both from University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH. Professor Miller Coyle has research interest in plant-based drug and food samples; use of plants in forensic casework; and DNA for human identification. Dr. Miller Coyle has published in Journal of Forensic Science and Science & Justice and is a private consultant and expert witness.

Recent Publications

1: Coyle HM. Capillary electrophoresis of DNA from Cannabis sativa for correlation of samples to geographic origin. Methods Mol Biol. 2012;830:241-51.

2: Allgeier L, Hemenway J, Shirley N, LaNier T, Coyle HM. Field testing of collection cards for Cannabis sativa samples with a single hexanucleotide DNA marker. J Forensic Sci. 2011 Sep;56(5):1245-9.


Dr. Coyle's web page.

Watch The Presentation