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Reena Roy

Teaching Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Forensic Science Program
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About Me

Graduate and undergraduate students in Dr. Roy’s research group pursue various independent projects in forensic DNA analysis. The analysis of nuclear DNA from pristine, challenged, degraded, compromised, and environmentally insulted samples has been the main focus of Dr. Roy’s research at The Pennsylvania State University. Currently she is performing research with Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) instruments such as the Ion PGM System. The research students under her advisement also use instruments such as RapidHIT for analyzing simulated crime scene samples under challenged conditions as is the case in some countries.  The students work with low template DNA from various simulated casework type samples and also pristine and degraded samples. Since 2007 when she joined Penn State, she has mentored twelve graduate students and many undergraduate students in their research projects. Six of them have graduated with M.P.S and are gainfully employed, most of them in forensic laboratories.  Six are currently involved with many current research projects including fingerprints. Prospective students interested in joining Dr. Roy’s research group are encouraged to contact her for further information.

Dr. Reena Roy received her doctorate degree from the University of Nebraska in 1981 and, after completing two years of post-doctoral research, she joined the Nebraska State Patrol Criminalistics Laboratory where she worked for fifteen years as the supervisor of the forensic biology section. Since 1983, she has worked on numerous forensic cases containing biological evidence and has testified more than one hundred fifty times in courts in Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri. Her analysis and testimony was crucial in many high profile cases including the triple homicide that was made into a movie called "Boys Don't Cry". The ease with which she explains difficult science to the jury was documented in a book called All She Wanted. She has been featured in Unsolved Mystery and other television programs. For her role in solving violent crimes, Dr. Roy has received numerous awards.

In 1999, she was hired by the St. Louis County Police to start a DNA program in their crime laboratory. As the DNA Technical Leader in St. Louis, Dr. Roy established the DNA section and was instrumental in getting the St. Louis County Police Crime Laboratory accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB). When Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska offered her the opportunity to teach in their graduate program in forensic science she traveled to Lincoln on weekends to meet with her students and taught forensic biology and forensic DNA analysis methods. She was invited to participate in several workshops for teachers provided by the St. Louis University and remains active in the Forensic Science Educators Conference.

Dr. Roy is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and is a member of the International Society of Forensic Genetics.   She is an academic affiliate (member) of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD), and is a past member of the Association of Forensic Quality Assurance Managers. She actively participated in DNA Forensic Technical Working Group, an organization sponsored by the National Institute of Justice.

During her tenure as a forensic scientist Dr. Roy pursued research in the area of protein polymorphism and DNA analysis as they applied to forensic biology evidence. She has authored and coauthored numerous papers in the area of RNA, protein polymorphism, forensic DNA analysis and presented seminars in Turkey, Greece, Finland, Australia, France, Spain, and Norway as well in many forensic science conferences in the United States. Her students have also presented at national and international conferences. Several of her graduate and undergraduate students have received awards for their research in regional conferences.
Dr. Roy's passion lies in literature, music, traveling, and plants. She has published several short stories and someday hopes to go to Danakil Depression (Ethiopia) one more time.


Program or Departmental Affiliations

Forensic Science Program College of Engineering


Research Interest

Forensic DNA analysis using massively parallel sequencing and short tandem repeat technology, trace evidence, fingerprints


Teaching and Mentoring

Primary courses taught;

  • Frnsc 413, Forensic Biology
  • Capstone classes Frnsc 485 and 801
  • Frnsc 400 courtroom testimony
  • Frnsc 894 research seminar and various seminar classes as needed. 

I have mentored 16 graduate and currently am advisor to two graduate students. Almost all of them have published papers in peer reviewed journals as first authors. All have given oral presentations.  Many undergraduate students do research under my advisement. 

International graduate and undergraduate students have also completed their internship under my advisement. 

My collaborators are Dr. Lakhtakia (College of Engineering), and Dr. Scott Lindner (Center for Malaria Research)


Honors and Awards

I have received many honors and also awards in my life as a forensic scientist. I was awarded a grant two years ago by National Institute of Justice. This involved working with nanotechnology,  fingerprints, and DNA analysis using massively parallel sequencing. 


Selected Publications

  • Nagachar N, Tiedge T, Lakhtakia L, McCormick M, and Roy R; Development of Environmentally Insulted Fingermarks on Nonporous Forensically Relevant Substrates with Conformal Columnar Thin Films (Under Review). 
  • Gray S, Tiedge T, Butkus J, Earp T, Lindner S and Roy R; Determination of Human Identity from Mosquito Blood Meals Using Direct Amplification and Massively Parallel Sequencing (Under Review).
  • Tiedge T, McCormick M, Mc Atee, P, Nagachar, N, Lakhtakia, L and Roy, R; Massively Parallel Sequencing of DNA Obtained from Partial Bloody Fingerprints Enhanced with CTF Nanotechnology (In preparation). 
  • Tiedge T, Comella M, Butkus J, Lindner S, and Roy R; An Evaluation of Precision ID GlobalFiler™ NGS STR Panel v2 using Mosquitoes Fed on Single and mixed Human Blood Sources (In Preparation). 
  • Gigl, K and Roy, R; Evaluation of GlobalFilerExpress Amplification Kit and PowerPlex® Fusion 6C Systems Using Commonly Encountered Crime Scene Substrates (In Preparation). 
  • Burton, M and Roy, R; Evaluation of the Qiagen Investigator® 24plex GO! (In Preparation)
  • Zach Goecker, Stephen E. Swiontek, Akhlesh Lakhtakia and R. Roy; Comparison of Quantifiler® Trio and InnoQuantHuman DNA Quantification Kits for Detection of DNA Degradation in Developed and Aged Fingerprints. Forensic. Sci. International, 263, 132-138 (2016).
  • Maryam Alqaydi and R. Roy; Quantitative and qualitative study of STR DNA from ethanol and formalin fixed tissues. Forensic Sci. International, 262, 18-29 (2016).
  • Amanda Dargay and R. Roy; Direct Y-STR Amplification of Body Fluids Deposited on Commonly Found Crime Scene Substrates. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine. 39, 50-60 (2016).
  • Gigl, K., Dargay, A and Roy, R; Direct Amplification of Blood Deposited on Substrates Commonly Encountered at Crime Scenes Using the PowerPlex® 18D and PowerPlex® Fusion Systems. Profiles in DNA (Promega Corporation Web site. Updated 2016. 
  • Bouchet, J, Bracci, N and Roy, R; Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Relevance of Hair Examination in Forensic Cases; California Association of Criminalists (CAC News, Fourth Quarter, 2016)
  • Hallie Altshuler and R. Roy; Evaluation of Direct PCR Amplification Using Various Swabs and Washing Reagents. J Forensic Sci, 60 (6), 1542-1552 (2015).
  • Stephanie Plazibat, Stephen Swiontek, Akhlesh Lakhtakia and R. Roy; White Light vs Short-Wavelength-Ultraviolet Illumination of Fingerprints Developed with Columnar Thin Films of Alq3. Can Soc. of For Sci. Journal. 28 (4), 190-199 (2015).
  • Stephanie Plazibat, R. Roy, Stephen Swiontek, and Akhlesh Lakhtakia; Generation of DNA Profiles from Fingerprints Developed with Columnar Thin Film Technique. Forensic Sci. International, 257; 453-457 (2015). 
  • Aamer Alshehhi and R. Roy; Generating Rapid DNA Profiles from Crime Scene Samples Commonly Encountered in The United Arab Emirates. J Forensic Res 6: 4 (2015).
  • Rebecca Klein, Cedric Neumann and R. Roy; Detection of insertion/deletion polymorphisms from challenged samples using the Investigator DIPplex Kit. For. Science Intl. Genet. 16, 29-37 (2015).
  • Daniel Hall and R. Roy; An Evaluation of Direct PCR Amplification. Croat Med J. 55: 655-61 (2014).
  • Tian Liang and R. Roy, Ultraviolet-Visible Spectrophotometry (UV-VIS) and SALIgAE® Qualitative and Semi-quantitative Tools for the Analysis of Salivary Amylase. J Forensic Res 5:247 (2014).
  • Than-Tam Ho and R. Roy; Generating DNA profiles from immunochromatographic cards using LCN methodology.  Forensic. Sci. International. Genet. 5, 210-215 (2011).
  • Kaylie McGuire, Zach Goercker and R. Roy; Generating Insertion/Deletion Polymorphisms from Forensic Samples Using the Investigator DIPplex® Kit and the Quantifiler® Trio DNA Quantification Kit (In preparation). 
  • Aamer Alshehhi, Maryam Alqaydi and R. Roy; Validation of the Identity and Ancestry Panels Using the Arabian Peninsula’s Populations (In preparation). 
  • R. Roy; Obtaining DNA Profile from Objects used on Lips (In preparation). 
  • M. Zlojutro, R. Roy, J. Palikij and M. Crawford; Autosomal STR Variation in a Basque Population: Vizcaya Province. Human Biol., 78(5), 599-618 (2006).
  • R. Roy; Analysis of Human Fecal Material for Autosomal and Y-chromosome STR. J. Forensic Sci., 48(5), 1035-1040 (2003).
  • R.J. Bigger, M. Janes, R. Pilon, R. Roy, R. Broadhead, N. Kumwenda, T. Taha and S. Cassol; Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type I infection in Twin Pairs Infected at Birth. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 186, 281-285 (2002). 
  • D. Steffens and R. Roy; Sequence Analysis of Mitochondrial DNA Hypervariable Regions using Infrared   Fluorescence Detection. BioTechniques, 24 (6), 1044-1046 (1998).
  • R. Roy, R. Burghoff and D. Steffens; Detection of STR, D1S80 and Gender alleles from Body fluid collected on IsoCode™ Foam Collectors and Paper-based Devices. Crime Laboratory Digest, 24(1), 4-9 (1997).
  • D. Steffens, R. Roy, J. Brumbaugh; Multiplex Amplification of STR loci with Gender Alleles using Infrared Fluorescence Detection. For. Science Intl., 85, 225-232 (1997).
  • R. Roy and D. Steffens; Infrared Fluorescent Detection of PCR Amplified Gender Identifying Alleles. J. Forensic Sci., 42(3), 452-460 (1997).
  • Roy, R; Infrared Fluorescent Detection of D1S80 Alleles. For. Science Intl., 87, 63-71 (1997).
  • R. Roy and L. Middendorf; Infrared Fluorescent Detection of D1S80 Alleles from Blood and Body fluid collected on IsoCode™ Devices. BioTechniques, 23, 942-945 (1997).
  • R. Roy, D, Steffens, B. Gartside, G. Jang and J. Brumbaugh; Producing STR Locus Patterns from Bloodstains and Other Forensic Samples  using an Infrared Fluorescent Automated DNA Sequencer. J. Forensic Sci., 41(3), 418-424 (1996).
  • R. Roy; Identifying Urine Specimen Donors by Serological and DNA Techniques. Medical Review Officer, 1996.
  • Roy, R, D. Steffens, B. Gartside, G. Jang and J. Brumbaugh; STR Typing Without DNA Extraction Using an Infrared-based Non-radioactive Automated DNA Sequencer.  Advances in Forensic Haemogenetics, 6, 1996.
  • M. Holland, R. Roy, M. Fraser; Serological & DNA Methods for the Identification of Urine Specimen Donors. Handbook of Workplace Drug Testing, AACC Press 1995.
  • R. Roy and R. Reynolds; AmpliType® PM and HLA DQ Typing From Pap Smear, Semen Smear and PostCoital Slides.  J. Forensic Sci., 40(2), 266-269 (1995).
  • R. Roy; Haptoglobin Typing From Forensic Samples Using Daiichi Precast Gels.  Crime Laboratory Digest, 20(2), 1-2 (1993).
  • M. Holland, R. Roy, M. Fraser and R. Liu; Application of Serological and DNA Methods for the Identification of Urine Specimen Donors.  For. Sci. Review, 5(1), 1-14 (1993).
  • R. Roy; The Detection of Group-Specific Component from Concentrated Urine Samples by Enzyme-Immuno-Assay. MAFS Newsletter, 20(3), 49-54 (1991).
  • R. Roy; Detection of Haptoglobin from Concentrated Urine Samples by Enzyme-Immuno-Assay. J. Forensic Sci., 36(5), 1580-1585 (1991).