Press release

Winston Churchill Fellowship to aid understanding of forensic science

Published on 7 March 2019

A leading forensic anthropologist from the University of Dundee has won a prestigious Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Fellowship to investigate what lessons UK police and courts can learn from other countries

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Dr Lucina Hackman, from the University’s Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science (LRCFS), has been awarded the Fellowship to explore the relationship between forensic science and the criminal justice systems in Australia and Canada.

She will visit both countries later this year to research the different ways in which forensic science is carried out in each, from the way evidence is collected at a crime scene to information provided to jurors to enable them to evaluate evidence.

By studying the relationships between professional groups in these systems, Dr Hackman aims to develop strategies for better interdisciplinary working within the UK. Ultimately this knowledge will help to drive change throughout the system and impact on the way justice is delivered in this country.

“I plan on sharing my findings at all levels of the criminal justice system, including with judges, to try and create positive cross disciplinary understandings,” she said. “I am really excited about this grant. It will give me an opportunity to learn about the relationships between investigators, forensic scientists and the court in different jurisdictions.

“One thing I am very interested in is the way the relationship between forensic science and courts works in different countries. In Canada there is a single national forensic science lab whereas in Australia police carry out forensic science and crime scene work themselves. How do these different systems impact on the way justice is delivered and how can we learn from this in the UK?

“I will also be speaking to the public in both countries to see how they understand forensic science. Members of the public sit on juries, after all, so I want to know how efforts to educate and inform citizens in Australia and Canada has changed the way they see forensic science.

“I will be learning about great practice and methods of working together and communicating science that exist, and how these might be brought back to be implemented in the UK. Anything that improves science communication between these very different professional groups can only impact positively on the outcome of investigations, the subsequent trials and justice.”

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust administer the Churchill Fellowships, a unique programme of overseas research grants that support UK citizens from all parts of society to travel the world in search of innovative solutions for today’s most pressing problems.

The Trust awards 150 Fellowships each year to enable outstanding individuals to travel for 4-8 weeks anywhere in the world while researching a topic of their choice among global leaders in their field. On their return, they are helped to share their findings with professions and communities across the UK.

The Fellowships aim to empower individuals to learn from the world and transform lives across the UK and cover seven universal themes in society: healthcare, education, the environment, technology, communities, culture and the economy.


Press Office, University of Dundee
Story category Awards and accolades, Research