Keeping Up with Our Graduates

Mica Tolosa-Wright, BSc (Hons) Forensic Science alumni, has been in touch to show us what exciting things she has been doing since graduating from Staffordshire University. 

“Research Technician Mica, of the National Heart and Lung Institute, won the 2018 President’s Award for Research Support Excellence for her work at the Tuberculosis (TB) Research Centre.

Mica was nominated for a number of achievements, including being the primary laboratory supervisor for a Master of Research (MRes) student, and training in containment level 3 laboratory protocols in order to independently deal with highly-infectious TB samples.

Mica is now working on a new research MRC funded study, investigating the immunological response for implementation of Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccination (LAIV), and has started a part-time Master’s in Genomic Medicine at Imperial. We spoke to Mica about her reflections on winning the President’s Award for Excellence.”  Read the full article here.

Shortlisted for NUE ‘Best Collaboration Between a University and Employer Award

Staffordshire University has successfully been shortlisted as one of the top five in the Best Collaboration Between a University and Employer Award at the National Undergraduate Employability (NUE) Awards.

The nomination is based on the Staffordshire Forensic Partnership Staffordshire University has with Staffordshire Police.

All nominations will be presented to their independent judging panel who will review all of the candidates.

The winner will then be announced at the Awards Ceremony in London on Friday 1st March 2019.

#NUEAwards

What the Edtech?! Jisc Podcast Series Episode three: the research landscape, here and now

In May 2018, Associate Professor Rachel Bolton-King was invited to do a feature on the latest Jisc podcast series ‘What the EdTech?!’ about Forensics research.

The content, which begins from 30mins 35 seconds in, focuses on Rachel’s collaborative research, the concepts/challenges of research data management, learner/data analytics, and linking academia to practioners. She also touches on the CATE Award and Research4Justice.

You can now listen to the podcast here.

Simultaneous detection and image capture of biological evidence using a combined 360° camera system with single wavelength laser illumination

“Forensic investigators frequently utilise light sources to detect and presumptively identify biological evidence. The instrumentation typically deploys single or multiple wavelength exposures at various intensities, which interact with constituents of biological material, initiating fluorescence or improving contrast between the material and substrate. Documentation using sketches and/or photographic approaches follows detection, which are essential for scene reconstruction. Recent research has demonstrated the simultaneous detection and capture of biological evidence using a 360° camera system combined with an alternate light source exhibiting broad wavelength ranges of light.”

Carry on reading Sarah Fieldhouse, John Casella and Kayleigh Sheppard’s article on ScienceDirect here.

The effect of tape type, taping method and tape storage temperature on the retrieval of fibres

Claire Gwinnett, Andrew Jackson and Zoe Jones have written about ‘The effect of tape type, taping method and tape storage temperature on the retrieval of fibres from various surfaces: An example of data generation and analysis to facilitate trace evidence recovery validation and optimisation’.

Check it out on ScienceDirect here.

The Italian ERASMUS – A Forensics Placement Experience

Jacqueline McDermott, who is studying Forensic Investigation, is currently on a placement at Istituto di Scienze Forensi in Italy, one of our EFEN partner companies (the European Forensic Education Network). Jacqueline’s placement is the first placement with an EEFN Partner, which Dr Claire Gwinnett set-up as part of a funded ERASMUS Strategic Partnerships Project.

Thinking of doing an ERASMUS placement? Jacqueline shares her experiences and takes us through a few examples of her day whilst on placement in Italy. 

“[On Friday 9th November, I attended] a forensics meeting in Milan. I had the opportunity to meet with Robert Milne from the Met Police and do a workshop with him on electrostatic lifting. I have also met with the CEO of The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, Anya Hunt, who has decided to give me 3 months free membership (very exciting!).”

The placement has already led on to other opportunities, including being offered a new placement at Securcube from April to June and an opportunity to receive further training in the UK for Fire Investigation.

“I have also managed to get another placement after my current one in Italy with a company called Securcube. So I will be staying in Italy working in a digital lab until the end of June. I am really enjoying my placement so far! I think I made a very good decision.”

Jacqueline has also been invited to present at the Student Conference, hosted by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow in December 2019.

“While being at ISF and Securcube, I will be training in areas such a road traffic reconstructions, fire investigation and cell site analysis. Whilst i am here i will create a mock case including each of these areas so I can gain more experience in the investigation process and also gather enough information about the reconstruction, the digital data collected and how to gather evidence from the crime scene.”

Typical day at ISF

  •  Begin work at 9:00am, Break at 11am, lunch at 1pm and finish work around 6pm.
  • Working on something new and different each day.

Days spent out of the office consist of:-

  •  Attending an online course on Forensic science and criminal investigation; hosted by the European Forensic Institute (EFI) Lecturer: Professor Robert Milne (3-5 times a week)
  • Studying topics such as Road traffic reconstruction, basic chemistry and physics; and Fire investigation.
  • Working on dissertation idea
  • Working on real case files, making my own analysis on the images and information provided – doing equations to work out speed of vehicles for road traffic accidents, looking at fire patterns and electrical circuits for fire investigations.
  • Using new software such as Amped Five to create better quality videos or images (involving crimes of assault or traffic accidents) taken from CCTV or bystander’s cameras.

Days spent out of the office consist of:-

  • Visiting real crime scenes. – Visited the scene of a road traffic accident (involving 3 motorcyclists and a car) then made measurements at the scene to help with reconstruction. Visited a Fire scene in Vipiteno (3 residential houses went on fire) Took pictures of the scene, documenting damages and then creating a photo log. (Just like I have done in university).
  • Attending conferences and Networking – 2-day forensics Meeting (Met Robert Milne (Met police/Scotland yard), Peter and Claire Mansi (IFUK), Anya Hunt (CSOFS) etc.). Conference in Bologna. Met with Nicola Chemello (Organised a 3-month placement with Securcube).
  • Attended court to watch expert witnesses.

Jacqueline has said she has made many new friends and is staying with a friend, Andreas, and his family until April.

She has been able to visit many different parts of Italy –  including Treviso, Milan, Bologna, Florence, Verona, Lake Garda and Trieste – and has tasted lots of local food and even been wine tasting.

“I found out about the Erasmus project through one of the Careers fairs held at the uni. I have always wanted to experience working abroad and to visit Italy, so Claire helped me combine these both.”

“I am really enjoying the placement as it is allowing me to work in a new sector of Forensics I didn’t know existed, on top of experiencing all the great Italian food and wine! I think this opportunity will help me in the future as I have had the opportunity to work on my dissertation, and network with companies in Italy, the UK and meet with the CEO of CSOFS! I have also been offered training outside of university and a chance to present my Erasmus experience at a student conference in December. If anyone is considering doing a placement with the Erasmus Project, I would say DO IT!”

 

 

Guest Speaker – Microplastics under scrutiny with the Rozalia Project: We are eating our fleece!

Microplastics under scrutiny with the Rozalia Project: We are eating our fleece!

A presentation about your clothes, your washer, microfiber pollution and how we can all get ahead of the problem

6pm-7.30pm on the 29th October, in the Science Centre, Staffordshire University

Following on from the Plastic: Not So Fantastic public lecture on World Environment Day this year, Staffordshire University’s Forensic Fibres and Microplastic Research Group are happy to announce an exciting guest speaker from the Rozalia Project in Vermont, USA who will provide insight into the plastic pollution problem we all face.

Rachael Miller, Founder of the Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean and co-inventor of the Cora Ball, is giving an interactive presentation about her team’s work protecting the ocean – from macro plastic debris to microfibers. Hear about their path to innovation and the adventures in science and conservation they’ve had along the way operating from on board the greenest sailing research vessel in the world. Rachael will describe the first ‘mountains to the sea’ river study investigating microfiber pollution, on New York State’s Hudson River, and provide a global perspective on how you can be part of the solution to more than just microfiber pollution!

Rachael Miller is the Founder of Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean and Co-Inventor/CEO of Cora Ball. Rozalia Project is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to clean and protect the ocean. It launched in late 2009 and works on marine debris using the strategies of: cleanup, education, innovation and solutions-based research. She is also the Founder/CEO and part of the design team for the Cora Ball, a human-scale, consumer-based solution to microfiber pollution working to share the problem and solution with people all over the world. Rachael holds a USCG 50 ton Master’s license and captains the 60’ sailing research vessel, American Promise. Her academic background is in marine studies and underwater archaeology. She lives in Vermont and loves to ski as much as sail.

Contact julie.evans@staffs.ac.uk with any queries regarding the event.

Book your place here.

 

 

Forensic Investigation Student Presents Research in Canada

In April, MSci Forensic Investigation student, Gareth Griffiths, and MSci Forensic Science student, Kirstin Gent, funded their own research trip to Canada. This week, Gareth returned to present his research.

Gareth’s research, that he presented on Thursday 5th October in Ottawa, involved validating software for Faro and also enabled Gareth to collect data for his final year project on Blood Pattern Analysis, using Faro Zone 3D on different types of wallpaper.

 

He will also be helping out with a workshop about BPA with Faro Zone 3D.

Congratulations Gareth!

Gaining Practical Experience: A Placement with Staffs Police

Final year MSci Forensic Investigation student, Elli Sarvari, discusses her placement with Staffordshire Police in the Justice Services Department. 

Starting in January 2018, as part of my MSci Forensic Investigation degree, I undertook a placement. I was luckily enough to be given the opportunity to work alongside Staffordshire Police in the Justice Services Department. In Justice Services I was based within the Vulnerable Victim Unit (VVU). The Unit is newly formed and aims to “enable Staffordshire Police to be better and more consistent in its delivery of services to victims and witnesses, particularly the most vulnerable.” The VVU achieve their aim through conducting research and developing current strategies. They are also a reference point for both external (Criminal Justice Partners) and internal (Office of Police and Crime Commissioner) work surrounding victims.

Whilst working alongside the VVU I conducted some research. The research centered around Special Measures, which is an entitlement for any victim or witness identified as vulnerable or intimidated as per the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. Special Measures are a form of support that an identified vulnerable or intimidated victim or witness can use in court. These include support such as screening from the defendant when presenting in court and removal of wigs and gowns. My research centered around the process of applying for Special Measures and, if it was effective, to help improve the service to victims and witnesses. I was able to access live systems used between the Police and the Criminal Justice System to conduct the research. I was ultimately able to provide recommendations to Staffordshire Police in how they could improve their service to victims in relation to Special Measures.

Alongside conducting the research, I was able to attend meetings surrounding the topic of victims and witnesses, such as the Victim and Witness Service Improvement Group chaired by ACC Barnett – who is also the National Police Lead for Victims and Witnesses; I conducted environmental scanning the shared to the meeting attendees. I was also given the opportunity to undertake some scoping on behalf of ACC Barnett surrounding research into a National Victim Strategy.

I had a fantastic experience at my placement, and it gave me irreplaceable knowledge. I am very thankful for the opportunity and I would advise anyone given the opportunity to take a placement to do so. I was able to network and learn about the wider area of jobs available to me. I just want to thank the VVU and Staffordshire Police for giving me the opportunity.

Elli Sarvari