Joana Antunes

Degree: Ph.D. in Biochemistry

College/School: School of Integrated Science and Humanity, College of Arts, Sciences & Education

Joana Antunes dedicated her Ph.D. research to improving methods for body fluid discrimination in crime scenes.

Joana’s work can help prove someone’s innocence or guilt in a variety of crimes. When investigating child abuse, matching the DNA found on a child to an adult doesn’t prove abuse. A parent or guardian’s DNA can be left behind by simply bathing, dressing or hugging a child. But knowing what body fluid carried the DNA can help investigators determine if a crime was committed.

Joana earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biochemistry from the Universidade da Beira Interior in her native Portugal. In 2011, she enrolled at FIU to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry with a focus in forensic science.

Joana holds a patent for identifying vaginal cells from DNA samples collected from crime scenes. She received a graduate fellowship from the National Institute of Justice to conduct her research. She was a speaker at several forensic conferences, including the American Academy for Forensic Sciences and the International Symposium on Human Identification, which brought together scientists and law enforcement to learn about DNA research, techniques and processes. Joana has also published seven research papers and one book chapter.

Joana wants to dedicate her career to wildlife forensics and bringing people guilty of crimes against animals to justice.

By Evelyn Gonzalez
Account Manager, College of Arts, Sciences & Education