Dr. Burks’ background, training, and expertise is in forensic science, separation science, colorimetric and luminescent assay development, spectroscopy, and image analysis. Between graduate school and returning to academia as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, she was out of a research-intensive environment for approximately four years. During that time, Dr. Burks worked in a crime lab and this experience informed her research focus on field-ready, robust, and low cost analytical methods. Upon establishing her research team in 2016, the Burks Research Team (BRT) has focused on the design of colorimetric and luminescent sensor arrays for the detection of analytes of mainly forensic and national security interest with accompanying image and chemometric analysis. To maximize the portability of the BRT analytical systems, laptops, tablets, and smartphones are utilized for image collection and data processing. Beyond forensics and national security, there are a variety of fields where low cost and reliable rapid screening methods are needed. The BRT seeks and maintains collaborations with chemistry, biology, and computer science colleagues in furtherance of our common goal to provide application-specific colorimetric or luminescent sensing systems employing portable, imaging-based detection.
A chemistry enthusiast, Dr. Burks hopes to ignite her students' appreciation of chemistry through innovative projects, multi-media education tools, and probably far too many pop culture references. She help create and organize SciPop Talks!, a popular talk series blending science and pop culture. A popular science communicator, Dr. Burks appeared on the Science Channel's Outrageous Acts of Science and will soon be appearing on the Smithsonian Channel’s The Curious Life and Death Of, as well as ACS Reactions videos, Royal Society of Chemistry podcasts, and at genre conventions such as DragonCon and GeekGirlCon. She writes the forensic science – true crime column Trace Analysis for Chemistry World.