John Planz's Laboratory

Lab Members

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John V. Planz, Ph.D.

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's research interests are very broad in molecular evolutionary genetics and population genetics applications for studying inter- and intra-specific diversity.

Dr. Planz entered the forensics field in 1993 at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas, TX. 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 and Vice Chair 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 has presented workshops in forensic statistics at numerous national and international conferences and provided online continuing education in this area to many crime laboratories nationwide.


Roxanne Zascavage 

Roxanne obtained her Bachelor's degree in Biology from Texas Woman's University in 2006 and her Master's degree in Forensic Genetics from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in 2011. She is currently a fourth year PhD student under Dr. John Planz. Her research interests are related to the nuclear and mitochondrial genes associated with Oxidative Phosphorylation. Specifically, she is focusing 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 obtained his Bachelors of Science in Microbiology and a minor in Chemistry from Louisiana State University in 2010. He is currently a 3rd year PhD student within the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics. He advanced to candidacy in December 2013, and is currently a Neurobiology of Aging Fellow. Mr. Shewale's research focuses on epigenetics within the field of Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, he is working on his dissertation project that examines post-mortem brain tissue samples of Alzheimer’s disease patients to investigate epigenetic alterations using novel sequencing methods. Mr. Shewale's interests also include on working towards the development of a peripheral blood-based biomarker panel for Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, Mr. Shewale is also working towards a certification in Project Management offered by the UC Berkeley Extension.


Michelle Graham

Michelle obtained her Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry/ Molecular Biology from Wittenberg University (Springfield, OH) in 2011 and is currently entering her second year as a Master’s student. Her thesis works includes identifying STR loci in North American bear species through motif mining and deep sequencing. When not in the laboratory, Michelle enjoys drinking tea, reading various books that have nothing to do with academics, acting, and running very far distances.


Elizabeth Nelson

Elizabeth obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from University of Texas at Arlington in 2012. She is currently a graduate student at the University of North Texas Health Science Center under Dr. Rustin Reeves and Dr. Claire Kirchhoff. Her research interests include bioarchaeology, paleopathology, physical anthropology, anatomical form and function, evolution and ecology, and paleodemography. Current research includes collaborative work with Dr. John Planz investigating genetic relationships from the Ray site, a Middle Woodland site in Illinois.


Jennifer Maldonado

Jennifer obtained a double degree in Biology and Forensic Science from Chaminade University of Honolulu in 2006 and her Master’s degree in Forensic Science-Criminalistics from the University of New Haven in 2011.  She is currently a first year PhD student rotating with Dr. John Planz.  Her research interests include analysis of genetic polymorphisms which influence normal craniofacial morphology and malformations.

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This page last updated 15th May 2014