UB lab at the cutting edge of forensic research

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- You could call it a hidden gem on UB’s south campus.

Tucked away on the fourth floor of the Biomedical Sciences Building, is a little known lab doing world class research.

Peter Bush is a scientist, and the Director of the South Campus Instrument Center. He runs the lab along with his wife, who is also a UB professor, and Dr. Ray Miller, a dentist.

Bush has testified before presidential committees, and his research has been published around the world. But to dozens of local companies, he’s the guy you go to fix things no one else can.

His lab houses millions of dollars worth of equipment for material characterization. He can normally get results in under a week.

“So this is useful for first the University, in graduate research, and also for industry in terms of product assessment and failure analysis,” Bush told News 4.

While touring his lab, Bush showed us an O ring sent in by a local car manufacturer. The problem? A foreign object found on it.

Bush’s specialized microscope cracked the code; it was a finger nail. A big relief for a company, in that it wasn’t a failure of their machines.

A handheld detector, worth about $40,000, was able to find alarming levels of lead in a child’s toy. The toy dinosaurs were manufactured in China, and brought to Bush to test when the child’s parents noticed he was getting sick after playing with them.

Combined, Bush’s and Miller’s expertise gets answers few others can.

“I’ve been involved in forensic dentistry, victim identification for over 20 years,” Dr. Miller told us.

“We’ve learned about dental materials, and a another level of identification that we could utilize to identify victims.”

It’s that new level of identification that Dr. Miller said brings colleagues from around the country to their lab.

From homicide detectives to state police, these two have helped solve major cases, like the ID of the one of the victims of flight 3407 in Clarence.

Dr. Miller’s forensic knowledge and Bush’s ability to study composition matched dental records to the victim when no one else could.

They also discovered a severed head didn’t match the body police in Pennsylvania thought; they did this by determining some of the material in the head was from no earlier than the 1980s, while the body was from the 1950s. That case still hasn’t been solved.

What’s so interesting is that expect for the few who regularly use the lab, it’s kind of a secret. Bush would like to see it utilized more by both students and area businesses.

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