Glen Jackson, Ming Hsieh Distinguished Professor of Forensic and Investigative Science at West Virginia University, is seeking volunteers to participate in a National Institute of Justice-funded study on the effectiveness of using hair analysis as a complement to DNA analysis.

When a DNA sample is collected at a crime scene, the sample is run through a database in an effort to secure a match. The challenge comes when the hair evidence does not contain the root—which contains the nuclear DNA—or when no matching sample exists in the database.

Jackson’s research, using the chemical makeup of human hair, would enable analysts to make educated determinations about a person with a high degree of confidence.

Individuals interested in donating a small sample of scalp hair and some fingernail clippings must first register to receive an application packet through the mail.

Once selected, participants will be asked to provide at least 0.1 grams of hair, provide at least one full-width nail clipping, and answer approximately 45 questions about their physical health, medical history and diet.

To register, and to see photos of how much hair will be requested, visit

“We’ll take as much hair as a participant is willing to give. It could be as simple as a trip to a hair salon,” Jackson said.

Hair will not be accepted from subjects who are pregnant, cognitively impaired or incarcerated. Volunteers must be over the age of 7. Jackson and his team will not be analyzing the hair for drugs, drug metabolites or DNA.

Involvement in the project will be kept as confidential as legally possible. All data will be reported in the aggregate and cannot lead back to a participant’s identity as an individual.

Participants between the ages of 7 and 18 must complete an assent form and must have all legal parents’ or guardians’ consent to participation.

For more information, contact Glen Jackson at 304-293-9236 or



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