IUPUI School of Science Partners with Federal Government

Release Date: 
Sep 16 2009

Two-year Contract Granted to Study Explosive Detecting K-9s

Indianapolis, IN — School of Science at IUPUI announced today the Forensic and Investigative Science (FIS) program has engaged in a two year contract with the federal government to study explosive detecting canines. An expert in explosives, Dr. John Goodpaster received a contract for $473,000 to research the characteristics of explosives vapor and odor compounds to better train canines in detecting explosives. Goodpaster served as a Forensic Chemist with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Laboratory and is currently an Assistant Professor in the FIS program at the School of Science.

"We know K-9s can detect even the smallest amount of explosives," said Goodpaster, professor of chemistry at the School of Science at IUPUI. "What we want to learn more about is how they are able to detect compounds so that we can train them to be more effective at finding explosives."

The grant will allow the FIS program to purchase new testing equipment in addition to funding a graduate student researcher to help facilitate the program. According to Goodpaster, the study will involve three phases of testing over the next two years.

During the first phase, Goodpaster along with graduate and undergraduate students will model odor availability to determine whether the amount of explosives plays a factor in detection and whether confinement of an explosive effects K-9 detection. The second phase of the study will focus on the difference of volatile versus non-volatile explosives.

"In volatile explosives, we believe the K-9s can smell or detect the vapors emitted from the compounds in the explosive," said Goodpaster. "However, with non-volatile explosives there is no vapor - yet the K-9s can still detect an explosive. We'll be studying the characteristics of both types of explosives to better understand what the dogs are detecting and how much must be present in order for them to detect."

The final phase of the study will be testing the findings on trained explosive detecting canines from state, local and federal agencies. Explosives detection canines and their handlers from ATF, Indiana State Capitol Police and Noblesville Police Department are presently committed to assisting the researchers.