All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Elizabeth Gardner

Advisory Committee Members

Jason Linville

Erin Shonsey

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Science (MS) College of Arts and Sciences


Novel psychoactive substances (NPS), also known as designer drugs or legal highs, have been gaining popularity since their emergence in the early 1980s. These manufactured drugs are based on the structure of already popularized drugs, with small structural changes creating new analogues of the drugs. Such is the case for constitutional isomers 2-methylethcathinone (2-MEC), 3-methlyethcathinone (3-MEC), and 4-methlyethcathinone (4-MEC), which differ in only the position of a methyl group on the benzene ring.The ability to separate and differentiate between isomers is an important issue in forensic drug chemistry and toxicology sections, especially if the isomers have different legal statuses. Techniques such as gas chromatography-infrared spectroscopy (GC-IR), gas chromatography-vacuum ultraviolet spectroscopy (GC-VUV), and liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS) have been used to separate and identify 2-MEC, 3-MEC, and 4-MEC. However, these instruments are not available in all forensic laboratories. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) is one of the most commonly used methods for identifying drugs in drug chemistry forensic science labs The aim of this project is to validate a method for the separation and analysis of 2-MEC, 3-MEC, and 4-MEC via GC-MS through studies of limit of detection (LOD), interference, reproducibility, and simulated casework.