University welcomes Tay Cities Deal

The University is leading two major projects within the Tay Cities Deal. These will bring a combined £40million in funding to Dundee from the UK and Scottish Governments.

The `Growing the Tay Cities Biomedical Cluster’ project builds on our world-class expertise in life sciences research, drug discovery and medical devices. It will create a new Innovation Hub where world-class academic and entrepreneurial expertise is combined to provide new treatments and technologies for medicine and life sciences.

Independent economic assessment of the impact of the Growing the Tay Cities Biomedical Cluster project alone is for 280 new jobs by 2033, rising to 800 new jobs and over £190 million benefit to the local economy by 2053.

The `JustTech’ project will create an Institute of Innovation for Forensic Science, leveraging Dundee’s reputation in forensic science research to create a new economic cluster for the Tay Cities Region.

Operating in a fast growing global sector and with ever wider translational opportunities it will harness the economic benefits of new knowledge particularly in the implementation of digital technologies, working with start-ups, SMEs and corporations.

The Biomedical Cluster project is being given funding of £25m in the Tay Cities Deal, with a further £15m earmarked for JustTech.

Professor David Maguire, Interim Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, said, “The Tay Cities Deal will have a great impact on Dundee, Perth and the surrounding areas, with the University at the heart of that, working with local partners.

“Our projects are based on areas where we have already established great strength and expertise. With the boost provided by the Tay Cities Deal we can capitalise on those strengths to stimulate innovation and enterprise, creating new jobs, expanding the skills base and attracting investment.”

Professor Niamh Nic Daéid, Director of the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science at the University and project lead for JustTech, said, “We are going to establish an Institute of Innovation for Forensic Science that will be unlike anything else in the world, providing a launch pad for commercial innovation unlocking the scientific and technological expertise developed and held within our universities.

“While creating new jobs and economic growth locally and nationally this project will also, crucially, define, develop and deliver the science and technology needed to serve justice particularly as it is catapulted into the digital age, in countries across the world.”

Professor Mike Ferguson, Regius Professor of Life Sciences and co-lead of the Growing the Tay Cities Biomedical Cluster project, said, “Thanks to the region’s outstanding reputation and capacity in biomedical research, built up over many years, we have an extremely strong pipeline of innovation, entrepreneurship and new company formation. This is attracting major inward investment. The project will enable us to fully exploit our competitive advantage by anchoring and growing new companies in a purpose-built Innovation Hub on Dundee’s Technopole site, adjacent to the university. The Growing the Tay Cities Biomedical Cluster project will bring jobs, training opportunities and prosperity for the region and solutions for unmet medical needs for the world.”

Graeme Houston, Professor of Clinical Imaging and co-lead of the Biomedical Cluster project, added, “The Tay Cities Deal will help realise our vision of boosting innovation in medical technology, particularly the design and prototyping of new devices for medicine and surgery.”

The Growing the Tay Cities Biomedical Cluster project is being delivered in partnership with NHS Tayside.

Dundee Women's Festival 2021

The Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science will be supporting the Dundee Women's Festival in March 2021.

The 2021 festival is fully virtual and brings together a mix of events and activities from various organisations across Dundee. The festival runs from the 5 – 14 of March and includes paired events for International Women’s Day (8 March) and British Science Week.

LRCFS are hosting several events in the 2021 programme which are all free to join

8 March – The women behind the scenes of TRACES – storytellers and scientists

9 March – Dundee Women’s Festival Afternoon Tea and Chat with LRCFS

10 March – Forensic Fibres with the Dundee Embroiders Guild

From the 8 March a special Home Learning Programme themed week will be taking place through Dundee Science Centre where women in science from across the University of Dundee will be sharing their work and activities.

We hope to see many of you (virtually) at these events.

House of Lords Science and Technology Committee: debate on Forensic Science report

On Monday 26 April the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee's inquiry into Forensic Science and the Criminal Justice System will be debated in the Grand Committee. The debate will be broadcast on the Parliament Live website. The report and the Government’s response are available on the Committee’s website

 The report was first published in 2019 and it  outlines the health of forensic science in the UK.

 LRCFS contributed written and oral evidence to the committee, where we raised specific concerns around the robustness of scientific evidence and how research into forensic evidence types should be led and conducted. Here we outline our reflections on the report and the recommendations which have important implications for the forensic science landscape across the UK.

 LRCFS Director Professor Niamh Nic Daeid who gave evidence to the enquiry wrote an article for The Conversation in response to the report in 2019, ‘Lords inquiry says forensic science is broken: here's how we can start to fix it’.

Our mission is to work in partnership with the public, legal, scientific and policing community to ensure that our justice system has access to the best science possible. This is a long-term process reflected in our funding for 10 years by the Leverhulme Trust.

Research at LRCFS is focussed on building the scientific validity around a range of evidence types through rigorous testing, the development of new techniques and the collation of robust data. Our approach is open and collaborative. The interpretation of evidence is of huge importance and our work in statistics and communication runs through all of our work.

We wanted to highlight that the report raises specific concerns and reports on the health of the forensics science system in England and Wales. It is important to share that there is a very different system in Scotland and in Northern Ireland. However, we should all be concerned as to the fragility of the marketplace for Forensic Science and the UK Home Office have recently committed to ensuring that stability is improved.

There is a clear call from the Select Committee for further funding for research and development to restore the UK’s global leadership position. It is vital that the whole of the UK plays their role in this response and that funding for science is increased and that it has strategic direction.

LRCFS is committed to raising standards and promoting a robust evidence-based understanding of scientific evidence presented in court. The public play a vital role in the legal system in this country, so ensuring they are aware of the limitations of forensic evidence as they are of its strengths is essential.

In order to support people in understanding the background to the report we have compiled a collection of previous reports on the status of forensic science. These are all key pieces of work and understanding which have contributed to the current report and to our structure and approaches at LRCFS.

Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science Annual Lecture

Join us for the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science Annual Lecture on the 24 of June at 11.00.
 

About this event

This year our lecture will be virtual and we will be joined by Claude Roux, Distinguished Professor of Forensic Science, University of Technology Sydney.

The talk is free and open for all to join. It will be hosted via Teams Live and there will be an opportunity to ask questions through the text chat.

Introduction by Professor Iain Gillespie Principal & Vice-Chancellor, University of Dundee

Vote of thanks by Professor Niamh Nic Daeid, Director of the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science

Strengthening forensic science by understanding its fundamental principles – The example of the Sydney Declaration

Forensic science has been at the crossroads, not to say in crisis, for over a decade. The robustness of the scientific foundations of essentially all of the forensic science disciplines is being questioned on a regular basis. Further, the usefulness of forensic science continues to be questioned by evaluative studies focusing on the judicial contribution. It is apparent that the debate mainly focused on organisation and process rather than fundamental principles. Further, very few discussions considered the contribution of forensic science beyond the production of evidence in court, overlooking essential contributions to investigation and security. Finally, some rapid changes in society and organizations are bringing additional challenges for forensic science laboratories.

In this presentation, it is argued that this situation generates not only challenges but also opportunities for forensic science to move forward. One such opportunity has recently materialised with the Sydney Declaration that presented the outcomes of a profound reflexion attempting to capture the essence and nature of forensic science through a definition and seven principles. The promotion of a shared understanding of forensic science and its principles provides a solid and transversal basis that will guide future improvements in this field.

Biography

After completing his undergraduate and PhD studies in forensic science at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, Claude Roux migrated to Australia in 1996. Claude has been pivotal to the development of forensic science in his adopted country over the past 25 years by developing and leading the first undergraduate degree and PhD program in forensic science. He currently is Distinguished Professor of Forensic Science and Director of the Centre for Forensic Science at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). His research activities cover a broad spectrum of forensic science, including trace evidence and chemical criminalistics, documents, fingerprints, forensic intelligence and the contribution of forensic science to policing and security. His professional motivation has been largely driven by his vision of forensic science as a distinctive academic and holistic research-based discipline.

Throughout his career, Claude has published more than 200 refereed papers, one textbook and 26 book chapters and a large number of conference presentations. He has attracted $5.5M in competitive research grants in the last 10 years, including Australian Research Council, other Government and industry funding. He also received more than 20 prizes and awards including from the National Institute of Forensic Science, the 2004 AIPS Tall Poppy Award and the 2015 Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Medal for Research Impact (inaugural award). He has a long and established reputation for effective collaboration with forensic and other government agencies in Australia and overseas, as well as with other academic partners.

Claude is a member of the editorial board of six scientific journals and of a number of working and advisory groups in Australia and overseas. He was President of the Australian & New Zealand Forensic Science Society (ANZFSS) from 2010 to 2016. He is the current President of the International Association of Forensic Sciences, Vice-President of the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales. He also serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Criminal Court.

Play as a Forensic Scientist in our new interactive game

Can you help solve a murder?

Published on 4 October 2021

The year is 1923 and Susie Sato finds herself investigating a murder when her great-uncle is found dead in his private museum, with an ancient Egyptian burial dagger protruding from his back.

The protagonist looks shocked in a scene from the game

Could it be that the dagger, an object the now deceased Lord Hamilton was warned not to remove from a tomb in Egypt, is cursed? Or is there a more rational explanation for his death?

This is the premise of The Curse of the Burial Dagger, an interactive murder mystery game from the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science (LRCFS) at the University of Dundee which enables anyone to participate in a fictional investigation based on concepts from forensic science.

The game, developed with digital story studio Fast Familiar and supported by staff and students from Monifieth High School in Angus, challenges players’ use of maths, logic and critical reasoning skills to help Susie uncover different types of forensic evidence and weigh up contrasting hypotheses. Can they uncover the events leading up to Lord Hamilton’s death and deduce how he died? Or will the curse strike again?

The Curse of the Burial Dagger was launched by pupils from Govan High School in Glasgow as part of Maths Week Scotland.

Dr Heather Doran, Public Engagement Manager at LRCFS said, “The Curse of the Burial Dagger is a virtual experience that will challenge players’ interpretation skills as they work through a series of related puzzles, designed to make them consider what scientific evidence can tell us.

“There has been a real explosion of interest in forensic science and online games in recent years. This experience allows people to engage with some concepts of forensic science at a time that suits them, from home or school, and play in a collaborative way, with friends. It’s designed to be fun but also make you think and consider what the scientific process can tell us about evaluating scientific results within a given scenario.”

The game can be played individually or collaboratively with friends and family on PCs, laptops or tablets, and is suitable for secondary school-age groups. Additional materials are available for teachers and group leaders to support learning about science and forensic science.

Chloe O’Connor, Principal Teacher of Science at Govan High School said, “We are super excited to be launching this new game in partnership with Dundee University and FastFamiliar. As a science teacher, I have to admit that it was the forensic science theme that caught my eye but the incorporation of literacy and numeracy, being played through a digital platform, means it really does tick all the boxes as an innovative teaching resource.”

The Curse of the Burial Dagger game is available from Fast Familiar, while a video trailer can be seen on YouTube.

Each purchase allows six devices to access the game. It can be played on a computer or tablet device. The Curse of the Burial Dagger lasts between 60 and 90 minutes – depending on how quickly the mystery is solved. It is recommended for players age 11 and upwards.

It was supported using public funding from Arts Council England and funded by The Leverhulme Trust.

Notes to editors

LRCFS is a 10-year, £10 million research centre funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which aims to ensure that the forensic evidence presented in court is underpinned by robust science. Public engagement is a major feature of the Centre’s work, with members of the public contributing to major citizen science projects and shaping the way in which forensic science research is planned, conducted and communicated.

The Leverhulme Trust was established by the Will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers. Since 1925 the Trust has provided grants and scholarships for research and education. Today, it is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing approximately £100m a year. For more information about the Trust, please visit www.leverhulme.ac.uk and follow the Trust on Twitter @LeverhulmeTrust.

Inside Forensic Science Podcast Launched

Published on 6 August 2021

It was a crime that shocked early 20th-century society and attracted international coverage – the apparently motiveless killing of an elderly spinster in her home.

Inside Forensic Science podcast

Now University of Dundee researchers are to explore one of Scotland’s oldest unsolved murders to demonstrate the vital role of forensic science in modern crime investigations.

A team from the University’s Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science (LRCFS) have produced a new podcast series looking at the murder of Miss Jean Milne, who was killed in her Broughty Ferry mansion in 1912.

The LRCFS team are joined by some of the leading experts in their field to review original witness statements and explore the evidence gathered by detectives at the time for ‘Inside Forensic Science’, a new podcast series. Over the course of six episodes, they will explain how forensic science, in its infancy in 1912, has changed and how it might be used in a modern investigation.

The aim is not to reopen the case but to demonstrate the vital importance of forensic science to the justice system.

Professor Niamh Nic Daeid, Director of LRCFS, said, “We are delighted to work with all of the experts who have contributed their knowledge and expertise to reviewing the tragic case of Jean Milne.  In exploring how science is used in investigations, we can really see some of the advances that have been made but also how some areas of practice have stayed the same even after 100 years. We are indebted to the Adventurous Audio team who have produced for us this fantastic podcast series.”

As well as tapping into the current popularity of true crime stories, Inside Forensic Science will touch upon Scotland’s social history.

Jean Milne was born in Dundee and lived with her brother, a wealthy tobacco manufacturer, in his 23-room Elmgrove mansion. Following his death in 1903, Jean lived in Elmgrove alone and received an annual income worth more than £100,000 in today’s money as part of her inheritance.

At that time, most of Dundee’s citizens lived in crowded and unsanitary tenements while its eastern suburb of Broughty Ferry was said to be home to the greatest concentration of millionaires in the world. She was a regular church goer who donated to many charitable causes and was often referred to as ‘eccentric’, a judgement that appears to have arisen from the standards of the time. She was unmarried and lived alone in two rooms of her sprawling home with few close friends, although it was said she enjoyed the company of “younger men” on her frequent foreign holidays and visits to London.

Her body was discovered at home on November 3 1912 after her postman became concerned by the mail piling up behind her door and called the police. Upon entering the property, officers found Jean’s body at the foot of the main staircase.

Jean had apparently been bludgeoned to death by a poker, while a bloodstained carving fork found nearby had been used to stab the victim. The walls were splattered with blood and Jean’s broken false teeth were scattered across the stairs.

While no money was found in a purse that lay beside the body, nothing else in the home seemed to have been disturbed and the expensive jewellery for which Miss Milne was famous locally was still at the scene.

There was no sign of forced entry, leading to a hypothesis that she had known and possibly invited her attacker into the house. Celebrated Glasgow detective John Trench was drafted in to help local police with their investigation, but no one was ever charged with the offence. A notorious Canadian conman was arrested in London on suspicion of the crime but released when his alibi – that he had been in Antwerp at the time of the murder – checked out.

The murder shocked the country and, as the investigation spread to England and the continent, attracted international media attention.

Inside Forensic Science will explore how forensic science has changed over the past century and detail how developments in the field would assist the investigation if this crime took place today.

The series can be found on SpotifyPodbean, and Google podcasts.

Notes to editors

LRCFS is a 10-year, £10 million research centre funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which aims to ensure that the forensic evidence presented in court is underpinned by robust science. Public engagement is a major feature of the Centre’s work, with members of the public contributing to major citizen science projects and shaping the way in which forensic science research is planned, conducted and communicated.

The Leverhulme Trust was established by the Will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers. Since 1925 the Trust has provided grants and scholarships for research and education. Today, it is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing approximately £100m a year. For more information about the Trust, please visit www.leverhulme.ac.uk and follow the Trust on Twitter @LeverhulmeTrust.

Research trends in forensic science: A scientometric approach to analyze the content of the INTERPOL reviews

The Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science (LRCFS) has published research covering the trends for 10 forensic science evidence types reported within the 14th to 19th INTERPOL International Forensic Science Managers Symposium reports (2004–2019).

Link to research paper

The INTERPOL International Forensic Science Managers Symposium (IFSMS) brings together forensic scientists and forensic science managers from across INTERPOL countries to discuss scientific articles, including peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations relating to forensic science every three years. These reports for the individual evidence types are then combined into one final document called the IFSMS review paper.

The use of forensic evidence has become indispensable in many countries and jurisdictions around the world, however, the dissemination of research advancements does not always directly or easily reach the forensic science community.

In the work published by LRCFS, the research found that the IFSMS reviews contain publications that are outside of the mainstream scientific literature. It also highlighted some of the major areas that are of interest to forensic practitioners across the INTERPOL member state countries. However, it also pointed that while the information contained in the IFSMS reviews is extensive, it can be challenging to process and the monitoring of data and literature can be difficult. 

As part of this research, LRCFS have built a simple free application that enables users to export reference lists based on keyword searches and is available for anyone to use https://lrcfs.dundee.ac.uk/apps/interpol-reports-explorer/ 

This work provides a comprehensible output of the research trends for 10 of the evidence types reviewed in the International Forensic Science Managers Symposium (IFSMS) reports, and the content of IFSMS reviews complimenting information available in citation databases. 

Research paper

Ménard, H, Akinpelu, O, Fiakpui, NA, He, RL, Huxter, S, Jordan, C, Judge, L, King, A, Miller, B, Moggs, SE, Patrascu, C-T, Pearson, T, Seneviratne, MEJ, Timmerman, LE, Haddrill, PR, Klu, JK, Cole, C & Nic Daeid, N 2021, 'Research trends in forensic science: A scientometric approach to analyze the content of the INTERPOL reviews', WIREs Forensic Science. https://doi.org/10.1002/wfs2.1447