Susan Walsh Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Biology


2013-2014             Post-Doctoral Associate             Yale University, New Haven, USA

2009-2013             PhD. Forensic Genetics              Erasmus University, The Netherlands

2005-2006             MSc. DNA profiling                    University of Central Lancashire, UK

2001-2005             BSc. Biochemistry (Hons)           University College Cork, Ireland

Current Research

The goal of the lab is to enhance our understanding of the genetic basis of human physical appearance and ancestry.

In a forensic context, retrieving information on the externally visible characteristics of a sample donor found at a crime scene can provide valuable intelligence information, e.g. eye, hair or skin color, to name a few. As we deal with quantitative traits where different genes and also environmental factors can contribute to the phenotype, we try to unveil the genetic basis of certain traits using genome-wide association approaches and next-generation sequencing, amongst others. We then try to determine what are the most-predictive biomarkers, and develop molecular tools to predict these traits for practical applications in forensics and anthropological studies.

Students interested in DNA analyses methods, including next-generation sequencing, and Population Genetics/Bioinformatics should contact me for current possibilities.

To help us and improve physical appearance prediction by being a volunteer for our phenotype collection, please sign up!

Select Publications

Haeusler M, Haas C, Seiler R, Lösch S, Moghaddam N, Walsh S, Kayser M, Rühli F, Janosa M, Papageorgopoulou C. Multidisciplinary identification of the controversial freedom fighter Jörg Jenatsch, assassinated 1639 in Chur, Switzerland. Plos One. 2016

Chaitanya L, Pajnic IZ, Walsh S, Balažic J, Zupanc T, Kayser M. Bringing colour back after 70 years: Predicting eye and hair colour from skeletal remains of World War II victims using the HIrisPlex system. Forensic Sci. Int. Genetics 2016.

Walsh S, Pośpiech E, Branicki W. Commentary: Hot on the Trail of Genes that Shape Our Fingerprints. Invest. Dermat. 2016.

Liu F, Visser M, Duffy D.L, Hysi P.G, Jacobs L.C, Lao O, Zhong K, Walsh S, Chaitanya L et al. Genetics of skin color variation in Europeans: genome-wide association studies with functional follow-up. Human Genetics 2015

King T.E, Fortes G.G, Balaresque P, Thomas M.G, Balding D, Delser P.M, Neumann R, Parson W, Knapp M, Walsh S, Tonasso L, Holt J, Kayser M, Appleby J, Forster P, Ekserdjian D, Hofreiter M, Schu¨rer K. Identification of the remains of King Richard III. Nat Commun. 2014.

Chaitanya L*, Walsh S*, et al. Collaborative EDNAP exercise on the IrisPlex system for DNA-based prediction of human eye colour. Forensic Sci. Int. Genet. 2014

Pośpiech E, Wojas-Pelc A, Walsh S, Liu F, Maeda H, Ishikawa T, Skowron M, Kayser M, Branicki W, The common occurrence of epistasis in the determination of human pigmentation and its impact on DNA-based pigmentation phenotype prediction. Forensic Sci. Int. Genet. 2014.

Walsh S, Chaitanya L, Clarisse L, Wirken L, Draus-Barini J, Kovatsi L, Maeda H, Ishikawa T, Sijen T, de Knijff P, Branicki W, Liu F, Kayser M, Developmental Validation of the HIrisPlex system: DNA-based eye and hair colour prediction for forensic and anthropological usage. Forensic Sci. Int. Genet. 2014.

Liu F, Walsh S, Kayser M, Of sex and IrisPlex eye colour prediction: A reply to Martinez-Cadenas et al.  Forensic Sci. Int. Genet. 2013.

Keating B, Bansal A.T, Walsh S, Millman J, Newman J, Kidd K, Budowle B, Eisenberg A, Donfack J, Gasparini P, Budimlija Z, Henders A.K, Chandrupatla H, Duffy D.L, Gordon S.D, Hysi P, Liu F, Medland S.E, Rubin L, Martin N.G, Spector T.D, Kayser M, on behalf of the International Visible Trait Genetics (VisiGen) Consortium, First All-in-One Tool for DNA Forensics: Parallel Genome-wide Inference of Bio-Geographic Ancestry, Appearance, Relatedness and Gender With Identitas Forensic Chip. Int. J. Legal Med. 2013.

Draus-Barini J, Walsh S, Pośpiech E, Kupiec T, Głąb H, Branicki W, Kayser M, Bona fide colour: DNA prediction of human eye and hair colour from ancient and contemporary skeletal remains. Investigative Genetics 2013.

Walsh S, Liu F, Wollstein A, Kovatsi L, Ralf A, Kosiniak-Kamysz A, Branicki W, Kayser M, The HIrisPlex system for simultaneous prediction of hair and eye colour from DNA. Forensic Sci. Int. Genet. 2012. 

Walsh S, Wollstein A, Liu F, Chakravarthy U, RahuM, Seland J.H., Soubrane G, Tomazzoli L, Topouzis F, Vingerling J.R., Vioque J, Fletcher A.E., Ballantyne K.N., Kayser M. DNA-based eye colour prediction across Europe with the IrisPlex system. Forensic Sci. Int. Genet. 2011.

Branicki W, Liu F, van Duijn K, Draus-Barini J, Pospiech E, Walsh S, Kupiec T, Wojas-Pelc A, Kayser M. Model-based prediction of human hair color using DNA variants. Hum. Genet. 2011.

Walsh S, Lindenbergh A, Zuniga S.B, Sijen T, de Knijff P, Kayser M, Ballantyne K.N. Developmental validation of the IrisPlex system: Determination of blue and brown iris colour for forensic intelligence. Forensic Sci. Int. Genet. 2010.

Liu F, Wollstein A, Hysi P.G, Ankra-Badu G.A, Spector T.D, Park D, Zhu G, Larsson M, Duffy D.L, Montgomery G.W, Mackey D.A, Walsh S, Lao O, Hofman A, Rivadeneira F, Vingerling J.R, Uitterlinden A.G, Martin N.G, Hammond C.J, Kayser M. Digital quantification of human eye color highlights genetic association of three new loci. PLoS Genet. 2010.

Walsh S, Liu F, Ballantyne K.N, van Oven M, Lao O, Kayser M. IrisPlex: A sensitive DNA tool for accurate prediction of blue and brown eye colour in the absence of ancestry information. Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2010.