Applied Research

Geoforensics and Information Management for crime Investigation (GIMI)

Project Staff - Shari Forbes

Dr Shary Forbes BSc (hons).PhDDr Shari Forbes BSc (hons).PhD
Assistant Professor
University of Ontario Institute of Technology
2000 Simcoe St N,
Canada L1H 7K4

Current research activities

Shari Forbes research has focused on the relatively new field of forensic taphonomy and in particular the chemistry associated with decomposition. The goal of her research is to understand the chemical processes that occur during decomposition, particularly in burial environments. The process of decomposition and/or preservation is highly dependent on the surrounding environment and consequently a thorough understanding of the effect of environmental variables on the chemical breakdown of the body is required.

Her previous studies have investigated the leaching pattern of a specific decomposition product known as adipocere, and its detection in soil using analytical techniques. Currenty, She is investigating the process of lipid and protein degradation during soft tissue decomposition. The significance of the research is the potential to assist forensic and human rights investigations involving clandestine grave sites.

Areas of research: Forensic chemistry, forensic taphonomy, decomposition chemistry, protein and lipid analysis, soil analysis


Forbes, S.L., Stuart, B.H., Dent, B.B. (2005) The effect of the burial environment on adipocere formation, Forensic ScienceInternational, 154:24-34 (

Forbes, S.L., Dent, B.B., Stuart, B.H. (2005) The effect of soil type on adipocere formation, Forensic Science International, 154:35-43 (

Forbes, S.L., Stuart, B.H., Dent, B.B. (2005) The effect of the method of burial on adipocere formation, Forensic Science International, 154:44-52 (

Forbes, S.L., Stuart, B.H., Dent, B.B., and Fenwick-Mulcahy, S. (2005) Characterization of adipocere formation in animal species, Journal of Forensic Sciences, 50:633-640 (

Dent, B.B., Forbes, S.L., Stuart, B.H. (2004) Review of human decomposition processes in soil, Environmental Geology, 45:576-585 (

Forbes, S.L., Keegan, J., Stuart, B.H., and Dent, B.B. (2003) Development of a GCMS method for the detection of adipocere in grave soils, European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology, 105:761-768 (