John Planz's Laboratory

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This training program addresses the major scientific factors facing DNA analysts: DNA interpretation, statistical evaluation and presentation of results.

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John Planz, Associate Professor

John V. Planz holds a B.S degree in Biology and Zoology (double major) from the State University of New York (Oswego, NY), a M.S. degree in behavioral ecology from Shippensburg University (Shippensburg, PA) and a Ph.D. in molecular evolutionary genetics and population genetics from the University of North Texas (Denton, TX). Dr. Planz studied as a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Section of Mammals (Pittsburgh, PA) in mammalian phylogenetic systematics.

            Dr. Planz entered the forensics field in 1993 at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas, TX. He later served as the Director of Identity Testing at GeneScreen, Inc. in Dallas, TX and Biosynthesis, Inc. in Lewisville TX adding mitochondrial DNA typing and SNP development to the testing performed by those laboratories. Dr. Planz joined the faculty of the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth in January 2000 were he serves as an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics and is the Associate Director of the UNT Center for Human Identification. He implemented the use of capillary electrophoresis and mitochondrial DNA testing at the laboratory and developed the foundational courses of the Professional Masters Degree program in Forensic Genetics offered by the university. Dr. Planz served as the Program Director and Graduate Advisor for the Forensic Genetics Master of Science program for 10 years and continues to serve on the Graduate School’s Admissions Committee. Dr. Planz has presented workshops in forensic statistics at numerous national and international conferences and provided continuing education in this area to many crime laboratories nationwide. He current serves as a member of SWGDAM and the Virginia Scientific Advisory Committee.

Dr. Planz's research interests are in the areas of molecular evolutionary genetics and population genetics applications for studying inter- and intra-specific diversity. These overarching principles are being applied to development and evaluation of typing panels for human identity and population assignment as well as in applications addressing heath disparities in US populations.  Dr. Planz currently holds a training grant from the National Institute of Justice for the development and deployment of web-based training programs in forensic DNA statistics and profile interpretation, as well as contracts for developing and implementing up and coming technologies in forensic identification and population studies. Current student research is focused on evaluating the effect of polymorphisms among nuclear and mitochondrial gene components of the respiratory chain complexes as related to the genetic diversity of America’s admixed populations. Current Graduate Students include: Roxanne Zascavage McEowen, Sarah Mariner Oates, Jisel Bailon, and Shantanu Shewale. 

Roxanne Zascavage McEowen

Roxanne obtained her Bachelor's degree in Biology from Texas Woman's University in 2006 and her Master's degree in Molecular and Medical Genetics from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in 2011. She is currently a first year PhD student under Dr. John Planz. Her research interests are related to the nuclear and mitochondrial genes associated with Oxidative Phosphorylation. Specifically, she hopes to focus on the relationship between the two genomes, the variances in activity from different population backgrounds, particularly mixed populations, and the potential health issues that may arise from the various population combinations.

Shantanu Shewale

Shantanu received his Bachelors of Science in Microbiology and a minor in Chemistry from Louisiana State University in 2010. His interests in forensics originated when I had a summer internship at ReliaGene Technologies during High School. He is currently a Traditional Masters student interested in next generation sequencing and its implications in mtDNA analysis, evolutionary and population genetics doing his laboratory rotation id Dr. Planz’s lab. He is also taking courses to be certified by the UC Berkeley Extension in Project Management.

Sarah Mariner Oates

Sarah received her B.S. degree in Biology from Georgia Tech in May 2010 and began the Master’s Program in Forensic Genetics at UNTHSC in August 2011. As an undergraduate student, she performed research in a molecular ecology laboratory that specialized in social insects. Her current research interests are in population genetics and its application to the forensic field. 

This page last updated 18th Apr 2014