Madeleine J. Swortwood, Ph.D. Toxicology Expert

Madeleine J. Swortwood, Toxicology Expert

Dr. Madeleine Swortwood is a nationally recognized toxicologist with advanced training in the areas of toxicology and chemistry. She has extensive education and training in the analytical evaluation of chemical agents as well as the causal link between chemical exposure and the associated toxic effects of these agents. Dr. Swortwood’s area of expertise includes alcohol, prescription drugs, drugs of abuse, inhalants, metals, and carcinogens. Dr. Swortwood applies her expertise in toxicology and chemistry towards resolving civil and criminal disputes involving toxic or chemical agents. 

Dr. Swortwood’s diverse toxicology work experience includes roles in academia, industry, and the US government. This diverse background is a distinct advantage that allows her to approach any case analysis from numerous vantage points.

In her role as a tenured university professor, Dr. Swortwood conducted research and published over 40 articles on drug detection methods in different biological matrices, drug stability, analytical instrumentation, and the deleterious effects of drugs on human health and impairment. She previously served as a forensic toxicologist for the Medical Examiner of Miami-Dade County, where she performed routine analysis and quantification of drugs, volatiles, and poisons. At another position with the US Food and Drug Administration, she helped identify counterfeit pharmaceuticals and researched drug diversion. 

Dr. Swortwood earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Duquesne University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Florida International University. She was awarded several internal and external grants to support her research which included drug testing of novel psychoactive substances, hallucinogens, alcohol, opioids, and pharmaceuticals. Dr. Swortwood serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Forensic Science and the Board of Directors for the Society of Forensic Toxicologists. She's also an active member of the Society of Forensic Toxicologists, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and the National Safety Council. 

Professional Experience

Robson Forensic, Inc.


2023 to present

Provide technical investigations, analysis, reports, and testimony toward the resolution of commercial and personal injury litigation of toxicology and human health assessments involving alcohol, prescription and recreational drugs, drugs of abuse, chemicals, toxicants, solvents, pesticides, metals, mold, food allergens, cosmetic products, environmental and occupational agents, related issues, and failure analysis.

Sam Houston State University, Forensic Science Department

2016 to 2023
Associate Professor with Tenure 2022-2023

Assistant Professor 2016-2022

  • Research focus on novel psychoactive substances in alternative matrices
  • Instructor for graduate level classroom & laboratory instruction, including Forensic Instrumental Analysis, Forensic Toxicology, & Advanced Instrumental Analysis
  • Instructor for undergraduate level online course instruction, including Forensic Science and Ethics & Professional Practice
  • Oversee Masters of Science (MS) and Doctoral (Ph.D.) level research projects with graduate students

Director of Graduate Programs 2018-2023

  • Day-to-day administrative functions of MS and PhD programs
  • Academic advising of graduate students
  • Coordination of orientation, handbooks, and promotional/recruiting activities
  • Coordination of funding, assistantships, grant support, scholarships, and travel

National Institutes of Health
National Institute on Drug Abuse, Intramural Research Program

Postdoctoral Fellow

2014 to 2016
  • Develop and validate Liquid Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) methods for drugs in traditional and alternative matrices (plasma, oral fluid, breast milk, liver, placenta, meconium)
  • Associate investigator in controlled cannabis administration clinical trial which includes: study design and implementation, preparation of regulatory documents, obtaining informed consent of research subjects, analysis and interpretation of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data
  • Experienced in administering partial Drug Recognition Expert examinations to research subjects following controlled cannabis administration
  • Extensive instrument experience with SCIEX 5500 QTrap, SCIEX 6500, Shimadzu 8050, and Thermo Scientific QExactive Orbitrap; Software experience with GraphPad Prism, IBM-SPSS, Analyst, MultiQuant, Inquisit, Compound Discoverer, MetaSite and WebMetabase, and TraceFinder

Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner, Toxicology Laboratory

Toxicologist I

2012 to 2013
  • Performed routine post-mortem drug analyses from sample acquisition to screening, confirmation, and quantification of drugs, volatiles, and poisons using Enzyme Multiplied Immunoassay Technique (EMIT), Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA), color spot tests, Gas chromatography (GC) and Liquid Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS) techniques
  • Participated in regular proficiency testing, including blood alcohol
  • Assisted in preparing laboratory and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the American Board of Forensic Toxicology, Inc. (ABFT) laboratory accreditation
  • Extensive instrument experience with Agilent GC- Electron Capture Detector (ECD), - Flame Ionization Detection (FID), - Nitrogen Phosphorus Detection (NPD), and -MS, Varian LC- Triple-Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer, (QQQ)-MS, Bruker AmaZon LC-MS; Software experience with ChemStation and in-house Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)

Intern 2011-2012

  • Developed and validated methods for detecting and quantifying pharmaceuticals, drugs of abuse, and novel psychoactive substances, including transitioning methods and SOPs from Liquid Liquid Extraction (LLE) to Solid-Phase Extraction (SPE) and from GC-MS to LC-MS/MS techniques
  • Update GC-MS libraries for improved detection of novel psychoactive substances

DeCaprio Group, Toxicology Laboratory, Florida International University

Graduate Researcher

2009 to 2012
  • Examined cross-reactivity of designer drugs in commercial immunoassays (ELISA and EMIT) via National Institute of Justice (NIJ)-funded grant
  • Developed and validated LC-MS/MS methods for identification and quantification of designer drugs in serum
  • Executed frequent LC-MS troubleshooting and instrument maintenance, including Agilent 6460 and Varian 500; Software experience with MassHunter

Department of Chemistry, Florida International University

Teaching Assistant

2009 to 2012
  • Instructor of record for undergraduate level laboratory course instruction, including General Chemistry and Survey of Forensic Science
  • Developed new laboratory manual and laboratory experiments for Survey of Forensic Science

Forensic Chemistry Center, Food and Drug Administration


2008 to 2009
  • Developed libraries for a handheld Raman system for identification of counterfeit pharmaceuticals
  • Researched drug diversion by detection of adhesive removers by Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR), Raman, and GC-MS


Ph.D., Chemistry, Florida International University, Miami, Florida

B.A., Biochemistry, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, graduated Magna Cum Laude

Continuing Education

  • Robert F. Borkenstein Course on Alcohol & Highway Safety: Testing, Research & Litigation, Indiana University: Center for Studies of Law in Action, Bloomington, IN, December 3-8, 2023
  • Cannabis Testimony, Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Denver, CO, November 1, 2023
  • Roadside and Laboratory Oral Fluid Drug Testing, Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Virtual, January 24, 2023
  • A New Realm of Novel Psychoactive Substance Opioids and Benzodiazepines, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Virtual, February 16, 2021
  • Oral Fluid Toxicology: Workplace Testing, Pain Management, and DUID, Society of Forensic Toxicologists, San Antonio, TX, October 14, 2019
  • Incorporating the Updated NSC ADID Lab Guidelines into Casework, Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Minneapolis, MN, October 9, 2018
  • Effective Communication Skills for Successful Forensic Toxicology Practice, Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Minneapolis, MN, October 9, 2018
  • Sample Preparation and Alternative Matrices for LC-MS Assays, Mass Spectrometry Applications to the Clinical Lab, Palm Springs, CA, January 21-23, 2018
  • Where the Wild Things Are – Method Development, Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Boca Raton, FL, January 8, 2018
  • Agilent LC-QQQ Techniques and Operation with MassHunter, Agilent Technologies, Lexington, MA, January 10-13, 2017
  • Postmortem Interpretation of Toxic Pharmacodynamic Drug Interactions, Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Dallas, TX, October 18, 2016
  • Toxicology of Designer Benzodiazepines and Opioids, Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Dallas, TX, October 17, 2016
  • Scientists Teaching Science Pedagogy Course, STEM Education Solutions, online, April 1-June 3
  • Postmortem Toxicology: From Autopsy to Interpretation, Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Atlanta, GA, October 19, 2015
  • Managing a Forensic Toxicology Laboratory: A New Mindset and Approach, Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Atlanta, GA, October 19, 2015
  • Laboratory Accreditation: A Look at Accrediting Bodies and the Top 10 Assessment Findings, Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Grand Rapids, MI, October 20, 2014
  • A Practical Approach to Calculating and Reducing Uncertainty of Measurement in the Laboratory, Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Grand Rapids, MI, October 20, 2014
  • The Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Program with Demonstration DRE Evaluation and Mock Court, Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Grand Rapids, MI, October 21, 2014
  • Advances in the Solid Phase Extraction of THC and Complex Matrices, United Chemical Technologies, Inc., Baltimore, MD, July 16, 2014
  • Measurement Confidence for the Forensic Laboratory: 100A, 100B, 100C, ASCLD/LAB-International, Online, July 15-17, 2014
  • Introduction to Uncertainty in Forensic Chemistry and Toxicology 1, 2, & 3, Research Triangle Institute & National Institute on Justice, Online, May 2014
  • AmaZon SL LC/MS Operator Course, Bruker Daltonics, Inc., Miami, FL, May 29-31, 2013
  • Method Development of Sample Preparation in Complex Matrices using SLE, Biotage, Miami, FL, November 2012
  • Police MedicoLegal Investigation of Death, Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner, Miami, FL, April 2012
  • Spice: Detection in Various Biological Matrices, Society of Forensic Toxicologists, San Francisco, CA, September 27, 2011

Honors & Awards

  • Irving Sunshine Award; American Academy of Forensic Sciences Toxicology Section 2021
  • Young Investigator Grant; Mass Spectrometry Applications to the Clinical Laboratory 2018
  • Educational Research Award; Society of Forensic Toxicologists 2016
  • Randox Toxicology Ltd. Travel Grant 2013
  • Forensic Science Foundation Student Affiliate Scholarship 2012
  • Scholarly Forum, 1st Place Award for Poster in Forensics Category; Florida International University 2012
  • Outstanding Forensic Chemistry Teaching Assistant for 2009-2010; Florida International University 2010

Professional Memberships

  • National Safety Council, Alcohol Drugs and Impairment Division, 2020 – Present
    • Member (2020 – present)
  • Organization of Scientific Area Committees, Toxicology Subcommittee, 2017 – Present
    • Secretary (2021 – present)
    • Member (2019 – present)
    • Affiliate Member (2017 – 2019)
    • Task Group Participant: Minimum Testing Requirements in Forensic Toxicology; Research Needs; Training and Education; Continuing Education
  • Society of Forensic Toxicologists, 2011 – Present
    • Director, Board of Directors (2021 – present)
    • Full Member (2015 – present)
    • Secretary (2024 – 2025)
    • Student Member (2011 – 2015)
    • Oral Fluid Committee; Co-Chair (2022-present), Member (2019-2021)
    • Drugs and Driving Committee member (2019-2021)
    • Publications Committee member (2019-2020)
  • American Academy of Forensic Sciences, 2011 – Present
    • Toxicology Section, Chair (2022 – 2023)
    • Toxicology Section, Secretary (2021 – 2022)
    • Toxicology Section, Program Chair (2020 – 2021)
    • Toxicology Section, Program Co-Chair (2019 – 2020)
    • Fellow (2021 – present)
    • Member (2019 – 2020)
    • Associate Member (2015 – 2019)
    • Student Affiliate (2011 – 2015)
    • Drugs and Driving Committee member (2019-2021)
    • Oral Fluid Committee; Co-Chair (2022-2024), Member (2019-2021)

For the full CV, click here for the PDF version.

v. 01/24/24