Lesley Chesson

PhD Student, Michael Richards

Areas of interest

stable isotope ratio analysis; human identification; diet; forensic chemistry


  • MS: Biology, University of Utah, USA (2009)
  • BS: Biology, Elon University, USA (2002)

PhD  Research

I’m interested in further developing applications of stable isotope ratio analysis for sourcing humans, specifically focusing on hydrogen of bone collagen. While there has been extensive research on the utility of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur in collagen to investigate diet and movement, much less had been done with hydrogen. However, recent research has suggested hydrogen isotope ratios in collagen may be related to both food and water.

MS Thesis

Investigating the Production and Region-of-Origin of Modern American Dietary Food Items Using Stable Isotope Analysis

Selected Publications

Bartelink, Eric J., and Lesley A. Chesson
2019  Recent applications of isotope analysis to forensic anthropology. Forensic Sciences Research 4(1):29–44. DOI:10.1080/20961790.2018.1549527.

Cerling, Thure E., Janet E. Barnette, Lesley A. Chesson, Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Kathleen S. Gobush, Kevin T. Uno, Samuel K. Wasser, and Xiaomei Xu
2016  Radiocarbon dating of seized ivory confirms rapid decline in African elephant populations and provides insight into illegal trade. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113(47):13330–13335. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1614938113.

Chesson, Lesley A., and Gregory E. Berg
2021  The use of stable isotopes in postconflict forensic identification. WIREs Forensic Science. DOI:10.1002/wfs2.1439, accessed August 19, 2021.

Chesson, Lesley A., David W. Podlesak, Thure E. Cerling, and James R. Ehleringer
2009  Evaluating uncertainty in the calculation of non-exchangeable hydrogen fractions within organic materials. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 23(9):1275–1280. DOI:10.1002/rcm.4000.

Chesson, Lesley A., David W. Podlesak, Alexandra H. Thompson, Thure E. Cerling, and James R. Ehleringer
2008  Variation of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen stable isotope ratios in an American diet: Fast food meals. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 56(11):4084–4091. DOI:10.1021/jf0733618.

Chesson, Lesley A., Brett J. Tipple, Glen N. Mackey, Scott A. Hynek, Diego P. Fernandez, and James R. Ehleringer
2012  Strontium isotopes in tap water from the coterminous USA. Ecosphere 3(7):art67. DOI:10.1890/ES12-00122.1.

Martinelli, Luiz A., Gabriela B. Nardoto, Lesley A. Chesson, Fernando D. Rinaldi, Jean Pierre H.B. Ometto, Thure E. Cerling, and James R. Ehleringer
2011  Worldwide stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes of Big Mac® patties: An example of a truly “glocal” food. Food Chemistry 127(4):1712–1718. DOI:10.1016/j.foodchem.2011.02.046.