Current Research

International Research Study on Predictive Genes for Human Physical Appearance

Current Research

Interested in Forensic Science? Have you ever wanted to be a part of research that will help law enforcement catch criminals? Have you ever wondered what genes cause us to look different from one another?

If so, this study is for you! The purpose of this study is to gather data on the prediction of physical appearance from genetic material (DNA). This study is conducted by Dr. Susan Walsh, Assistant Professor at the Department of Biology and the Forensic & Investigative Sciences Program at IUPUI. The study is funded in part by the National Institute of Justice.

For this study, those who participate will be coming into the laboratory for one visit. During this visit we will be collecting several key pieces of information about your physical appearance. This will include a saliva sample, hair sample, photographs of hair and skin color, and we will have you complete a questionnaire pertaining to your physical appearance.

If this sounds interesting to you, please sign up with your email address to receive more information about the study and discuss a time to come in and participate with a member of our team.

Link to our Study Questionnaire.


Some physical appearance projects ongoing in our laboratory include:

Quanititative pigment association and prediction - eye, hair and skin color.

Facial Morphology association and prediction




Ancestry Prediction Using Y Chromosome DNA and Irish Surnames

Current Research

Using Y chromosome DNA testing and surname correlations is a type of genetic genealogy project that enables individual’s to trace back a male lineage or timeline of a surname to a common ancestor. In this lab, we are interested in Irish surnames to assess if they are names related to the high kings of Ireland and have solid Irish ancestry in their roots or if they have been transplants through the various settlements throughout Irish history, i.e. Viking attacks, the Norman Invasion, etc.

By analyzing the Y chromosome of both common and rare Irish Surnames as well as known ancestral Viking names, we can investigate the distribution of Y haplogroups in each surname and try to group names into certain ancestry categories, i.e. Irish, English, Scottish, or Scandinavian.

As the Y chromosome assesses the patrilineal line, we shall also assess the matrilineal line through mitochondrial sequencing to get a more in depth picture of the make up of Irish surnames currently prevalent in Ireland using genetic material such as DNA.