David Carter

David O. Carter, Ph.D.


Henry Hall 5
Tel (808) 739-8352
Fax (808) 440-4278
3140 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Associate Professor, Forensic Sciences

David O. CarterDr. David O. Carter, Associate Professor of Forensic Science and Director of the Chaminade University Forensic Sciences Program, earned his B.S. in Anthropology from the University of Idaho in 1999. He earned his M.Sc. in Forensic Archaeology from Bournemouth University in 2001 and his Ph.D. from James Cook University in 2005. Dr. Carter was Assistant Professor and Associate Professor of Forensic Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 2006 until 2012. Dr. Carter has been interested in death investigation since 1999 and has been attending crime scenes since 2000. Since that time he has consulted with several investigative agencies around the world.


BS, University of Idaho
MSc, Bournemouth University
PhD, James Cook University


FS 487 Internship
FS 625/L Trace Evidence
FS 790 Graduate Seminar
FS 799 Directed Studies

Research Topics

  • Forensic taphonomy
  • Postmortem microbiology
  • Estimating postmortem interval

Current projects in the Laboratory of Forensic Taphonomy focus on the microbial communities associated with corpse decomposition and the estimation of postmortem interval. Dr. Carter is interested in the process of decomposition along with the structure and function of the postmortem human microbiome. Research indicates that several Gammaproteobacteria, Bacilli, and Clostridia are important players in corpse decomposition and Dr. Carterís Laboratory of Forensic Taphonomy is investigating their efficacy for estimating postmortem interval. Dr. Carter has been awarded several research grants and served as grant reviewer for the National Institute of Justice, the National Science Foundation, and a number of private endowments.

Professional Societies

American Academy of Forensic Sciences (Member, Pathology/Biology)
American Society for Microbiology (Member)
International Association for Identification (Associate Member)
International Society for Microbial Ecology

Recent Publications

Damann FE, Tanittaisong A, Carter DO (2012) Carcass enrichment of the University of Tennessee Anthropology Research Facility: a reapplication of the saturation hypothesis. Forensic Science International 222:4-10.

Lowis T, Leslie K, Barksdale LE, Carter DO (2012) Determining the sensitivity and reliability of Hemascein. Journal of Forensic Identification 62:204-214.

Fujikawa A, Barksdale L, Higley LG, Carter DO (2011) Lucilia sericata (Diptera: Calliphoridae) and their ability to alter the morphology and presumptive chemistry of bloodstain patterns. Journal of Forensic Sciences 56:1315-1318.

Spicka A, Johnson R, Bushing J, Higley L, Carter DO (2011) Carcass mass can regulate rate of decomposition and release of ninhydrin-reactive nitrogen into gravesoil. Forensic Science International 209:80-85.

Striman B, Fujikawa A, Barksdale L, Carter DO (2011) Alteration of expirated bloodstain patterns by Calliphora vicina and Lucilia sericata (Diptera: Calliphoridae) through ingestion and deposition of artifacts. Journal of Forensic Sciences 56:S123-S127.

Carter DO, Tibbett M, Yellowlees (2010) Moisture can be the dominant environmental parameter governing cadaver decomposition in soil. Forensic Science International 200:60-66.

Van Belle L, Carter DO, Forbes SL (2009) Measurement of ninhydrin-reactive nitrogen influx into gravesoil during aboveground and belowground carcass (Sus domesticus) decomposition. Forensic Science International 193:37-41.

Fujikawa A, Barksdale L, Carter DO (2009) Calliphora vicina (Diptera: Calliphoridae) and their ability to alter the morphology and presumptive chemistry of bloodstain patterns. Journal of Forensic Identification 59:502-512.

Carter DO, Filippi J, Higley LG, Huntington TE, Okoye MI, Scriven M, Bliemeister J (2009) Using ninhydrin to reconstruct a disturbed outdoor death scene. Journal of Forensic Identification 59:190-195.

Benninger LA, Carter DO, Forbes SL (2008) The biochemical alteration of soil beneath a decomposing carcass. Forensic Science International 180:70-75.

Carter DO, Tibbett M (2008) Does repeated burial of skeletal muscle tissue (Ovis aries) in soil affect subsequent decomposition? Applied Soil Ecology 40:529-535.

Carter DO, Yellowlees D, Tibbett M (2008) Temperature affects microbial decomposition of cadavers (Rattus rattus) in contrasting soils. Applied Soil Ecology. 40:129-137.

Carter DO, Yellowlees D, Tibbett M (2008) Using ninhydrin to detect gravesoil. Journal of Forensic Sciences 53:397-400.

Huntington TE, Carter DO, Higley LG (2008) Testing multigenerational colonization of carrion by blow flies in the Great Plains. Great Plains Research 18:33-38.

Carter DO, Yellowlees D, Tibbett M (2007). Autoclaving can kill soil microbes yet enzymes can remain active. Pedobiologia 51:295-299.

Carter DO, Yellowlees D, Tibbett M (2007) Cadaver decomposition in terrestrial ecosystems. Naturwissenschaften 94:12-24.