Funded PhD Project Opportunity

Recovery and profiling of encapsulated DNA from Counterfeit Banknotes

This is a funded PhD project with a tax-free bursary of £14,000 pa and includes tuition fees and bench fees. This is funded by the European Central Bank.

The aim of this project is to evaluate the viability of obtaining DNA profiles from DNA encapsulated between holographic patches and substrate on counterfeit euro banknotes. The project will also consider the recovery and profiling of DNA from between two layers of substrate, in cases where counterfeits have been composed of two bonded layers of paper.
The project will commence by seeking to understand the dynamics of DNA transfer and persistency on an adhesive surface. In other words, how much DNA might actually transfer on to the adhesive bearing substrate (foil patch or paper) – given that being ‘encapsulated’ any DNA present is likely to be insulated from contamination and have originated in the place of production.
A major part of this project is developing an effective recovery method – that can maximise the amount of DNA recovered from within the adhesive (a challenge in its own right) without picking up any material that may be present on the non-adhesive side – which potentially could have originated anywhere.

We are looking for someone with a forensic science qualification and experience of DNA profiling techniques. Some travel will be required as part of this project.

For further information, please contact Dr Graham Williams (graham.williams@staffs.ac.uk).

If you wish to apply for this PhD, please email your CV and a brief covering letter to Dr Graham Williams by 10th October 2018

European Researchers’ NIGHT

European Researchers’ NIGHT event

29th September 2018

Science in Space

Beacon Building – 9am till 12pm

Interactive Virtual Reality Activities

Psychology of space….in Space (T203)

Dr Nichola Street/Dr Gemma Hurst/Dr Daniel Jolley

Imagine spending a year (or more) inside one living space, with no gravity.  That’s the job of an astronaut.   Join us for an interactive activity considering the physical environment (or ‘space’) that travellers spend time in and the psychological impact it can have on them. Using Virtual Reality, visitors will explore the space station and learn about potential interventions to make the environments in space more beneficial and less damaging to psychological health.

CSI in Space (T204)

Dr Claire Gwinnett, Tom Bird, Amy Osbourne

Come and investigate a potential murder that has been committed on an alien planet…  As lead investigators of the Internal Investigation Team for the intergalactic space company Staffordshire Universe, you will need to travel to the alien planet, investigate the scene and decide which evidence you are taking back to the ship….before your air supply runs out!  Come join the Staffordshire Universe team in solving the crime and learning about how Virtual Reality can be used in crime scene analysis

 

Short Lecture Series (T103)

Is there life on Mars? (9am, 10am)

Space is often called the final frontier – the place where one day we might call home. But do others already call it home? What evidence is there for life on Mars and could we potentially use the materials there to make it habitable ourselves? Dr Duncan Parker will discuss the chemistry of the Red Planet from its soil, to the atmosphere via the discovery of liquid water. Come along and decide for yourself whether there’s life on Mars.

Biology in Space (9.15am, 10.15am, 11am)

What happens to human and animals in space? How does this affect the bodies? What happens to the body when it lands back to earth? Dr Jonathan Parrott Lecturer in Forensic Biology gives a short talk answering these biological questions.

Crime in Space (9.30am, 10.30am, 11.15am)

What happens if you commit a crime in space? Whose jurisdiction is it? How does the space environment affect the dynamics of forensic evidence? What happens if you fire a gun in space? Dr Graham Williams Head of Criminal Justice and Forensic Science gives a short talk answering these questions

Monkey Dust mayhem: the English city reportedly at the centre of a drug-fuelled ‘epidemic’

Sarah Page, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Criminology, has written an article about the reported Monkey Dust epidemic for The Conversation. “Our ongoing research raises questions about how widespread and localised use of the drug really is.” You can read the full article here

You can also watch Sarah discussing this on our YouTube Playlist here

Healthy Relationships Education Offers a Real Chance to Reduce Domestic Violence

As part of the new-style sex education curriculum, school pupils will soon start learning about healthy intimate relationships – which could help to significantly reduce future domestic abuse in the UK. In recent research we did on this issue we spoke to various professionals who work with victims of domestic abuse. One of them told us that they believe healthy relationships education needs to be “taught in schools from a young age”.

Read Sarah Page and Dr Em Temple-Malt’s full article for The Conversation here.

We’ve Discovered a Way to Recover DNA From Fingerprints without Destroying Them

Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science, Dr Sarah Fieldhouse, has written a piece for The Conversation about discovering a way to recover DNA from fingerprints without destroying them.

“Fingerprints hold a lot more information than you might realise. They don’t just provide a pattern with which to identify people. They can also contain DNA. And as neither DNA nor fingerprints are infallible ways of working out who was at a location, combining both pieces of evidence could be vital for investigators.

The problem is that forensic scientists usually have to choose between one or the other, as recovering DNA can mean destroying the fingerprint and vice versa. However, my colleagues and I have discovered a new method that could collect both types of evidence at once.” Read the full article here.

Diary of an Erasmus Student

Sociology, Criminology and Deviance student, Jessica Silva Freitas, studied at Karlova University in Prague on an Erasmus Exchange this year and has shared her experiences with us.

I would 100% recommend students to go on an Erasmus exchange. When I was given this opportunity, I wasn’t sure if I was going to go for it. I asked my partner what his opinion was and my best friends and they all told me to go for it as it is an amazing opportunity[: …] you might not get it again. So I decided to go through with applying to see if they accepted me and they did. I was over the moon, I was so excited to go to another country, learn their culture, just being able to live somewhere else! It was hard leaving family, friends and my partner behind but it was all worth it! I still managed to go visit them during the weekends which wasn’t too bad.

During my time in Prague as Erasmus student, I have learnt so much about myself: I learnt to be more independent (not having to depend on anybody), I learnt to live in another country alone not knowing their language and […tried] my hardest to learn the basics. Believe it or not, I managed to keep on top of my tasks (assignments) and not stressing. The most important thing I learnt while away is loving myself. I found myself again while being away from everyone.

Prague is a beautiful place, it was my first time coming here and I loved it! The buildings, the history behind Prague is incredible. When you first come here, you can struggle as the money currency, transport, the culture is all different, but you get the hang of it. The best parts of Prague is meeting new people all over the world (Spain, Portugal, Italy, America, Poland, Germany etc..). I know I have made friends for life.

Studying in Prague, you have so many opportunities that the university provides. The student union even manages for students to go abroad; how crazy is that! They create events such as going abroad in Croatia, Poland, Germany and even the towns in Czech Republic.[There are a mixture of courses in Prague] where you can decide which [ones] you [want to] pick. At the beginning it’s confusing because you [have] to enroll again […] and there might be the possibility where the course may be packed and you have to go on the waiting list. But the best part is that they give you a week to ‘try out’ the course and if you don’t like it, you can drop out. I found [this] really useful and I picked over seven modules to try out and ended up with four at the end.

The student life around here is so good! It is up to you if you want to go out or not; there are many nightclubs around Prague [and] I have only experienced a few. They are all good! My favourite is Roxy (depends on the day you go, there are a mixture of genres). It is really cheap in Prague, just make sure you don’t buy something straight away before you see other stores as some might be cheaper and the same value.

 

There are many beautiful sightseeing places, lots of museums, many shopping centres (who doesn’t love a good shopping spree and food afterwards!)

 

I would advise students to prepare themselves for the changes: you may get home sick for a couple of weeks (depending on who you are). Also, be prepare to be independent it is not a scary thing, it is actually a really good thing! Travel as much as you can wherever you are! Be confident and believe in yourselves.
Wishing everyone luck if you go studying abroad. Best wishes X

 

 

Inspiring Through Work Experience

During the week of the 14th-18th May, students from several colleges in and around Staffordshire came for work experience at Staffordshire University.

Focusing on creative arts, science and sport, the students experienced various aspects of the work involved within each field; they finished the week presenting a Vlog they had created about their experiences.

Applications were open to all schools and colleges and ten students were selected, overall, from the City of Stoke on Trent Sixth Form College, Stoke on Trent College, Blythe Bridge High School, The Cheadle Academy and St John Fisher Catholic College.

“I have had a really good past few days and enjoyed every single moment”.

Marley, Kate and Eliot presented their Vlog first. Their week involved looking into the working world of creative arts. They dabbled in photography, photo editing and TV production.

Whilst editing photos, they learnt how to “make your eyes and nose bigger/smaller”.

Towards the end of the week, they went behind the scenes at the TV studio and saw elements of what it was like behind the camera as opposed to in front of it – although they also got to enjoy seeing how to make a character from wearing a suite with sensors. They learnt how to connect video clips together, transitioning from one slide to another.

Eliot said that he had “had a really good past few days and enjoyed every single moment”.

The second group spent their week looking into science and psychology. Jacob, Emily, Chloe, Jade and Beth’s theme for the week was the stress hormone cortisol.

“I was amazed by all the equipment the Science Centre has to offer”.

They stepped into the virtual world, looking at how virtual technology can be used to assist people, in relation to cortisol levels and stress. Part of the experience involved observing various relaxation techniques and facing their fear of heights, using a VR headset.

Jade said that, this way, the “technology can help to overcome fears”. Beth concluded that, with “the help of technology[, there is] “much more we can do to help with the quality of life” for some people.

They then had a tour of the labs in the Science Centre; Chloe was “amazed by all the equipment the Science Centre has to offer”.

The third group received the same “scientific experimental experience” and were especially able to develop their “communication skills” through their Vlog preparation – implementing video transitioning and audio – and presenting on their final day.

Focusing on the cortisol theme as well, Chanelle and Moncy particularly enjoyed working in the labs. Chanelle said there were things they have learnt in their Biology lesson at school or college, but didn’t have the opportunity to use any equipment like they did at Staffordshire University.

“[It was] informative as I was planning on doing something biology related at uni[versity]”.

Our Technical Skills Specialist, Alison Davidson, gave a tour of the Analytical Laboratory and then Moncy and Chanelle carried out a few experiments, including looking at the difference in accuracy between an automatic and glass perpet. Moncy said that the experience was “informative as [she] was planning on doing something biology related at uni[versity]”.

The afternoon concluded with a general discussion and questions, during which the students provided feedback. One work experience student said she had now joined the university library, because she didn’t know the public could join. Another said that they are now considering going to university when they weren’t sure before.

“I would definitely come back again”.

Overall, it was an interesting week and a pleasure to have the work experience students at the university. The students learnt a lot and the general consensus was positive, saying they would definitely come back again.

 

#StaffsPGR Conference 2018

Yesterday saw the annual Staffordshire University Postgraduate Research Conference.The conference provides the opportunity for current PhD students to present their research.

The day started with refreshments, then the conference was opened by Prof. Douglas Burnham and  Prof. Martin Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, gave the introductory, welcome speech.

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof. Martin Jones, Prof. Douglas Burnham and Prof. Martin Parker.

 

The Key note speaker was Prof. Martin Parker from the University of Bristol, who focused his speech on ‘Everything you wanted to know about rejection but were afraid to ask’. He gave some advice to fellow researchers about not being afraid of rejection.

 

 

 

After a quick break for refreshments, the first session of the presentations began from students in Business, Education, Health and Forensics subject areas.

Sophie Hartless presenting her research on the ‘critical Evaluation of DNA Recovery Methods for Forensic Purposes’.

Megan Needham presenting her research on ‘Establishing Effective Documentation Strategies for Fingerprint Examinations’

Laura Wilkinson presenting her research: ‘An Investigation into the Interpretation of Hair Evidence for Casework’.

Lunch was at 1pm with a Poster Presentation Exhibition, followed by the second presentation session for students in Applied Technology and Humanities.

Alexia Rothwell talks through her research: ‘Multidisciplinary Intervention Strategies in Firearms Trafficking’.

Esme Hookway with her poster on her research: ‘Troubled Times: An Investigation of Medieval Hospitals as Places of Refuge for Pregnant Women and Children’ (supervised by Dr Kirsty Squires and Prof. John Casella).

The afternoon continued with a Panel Discussion – ‘What can you do with a PhD’? – followed by a Three Minute Thesis Competition, with presenters Danial Jovanovska, Ramy Hammady, Rohit Adhikari and Hussain al-Ezee. The day concluded at 5pm with closing remarks.

Panel Discussion: What Can You Do With a PhD?

Congratulations to everyone who presented their research at the Staffordshire University Postgraduate Research Conference 2018 #StaffsPGR

 

International Forensic Success

MSci Forensic Investigation student, Gareth Griffiths, and MSci Forensic Science student, Kirstin Gent, funded their own research trip to Canada at the end of April, spanning over three weeks. 

 

Gareth’s research 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.

 

 

 

Gareth has said he would “like to say a big, big thank you to Eugene Liscio for giving us the best 3 weeks, [Kirstin and I] will never forget: taking us to Niagara Falls, meeting amazing people in the field of policing/forensics, [and] taking us to York Regional Police Head Quarters to help with Kirstin’s project and being able to shoot a gun for the first time!

“Most of all demonstrating to me the Faro scanner and Software and collecting the data for my final year project on blood pattern analysis using Faro zone 3D on different types of wallpaper.

“We are so honoured to have been given this opportunity and we will never forget the time here, in such a great country. We have never met anyone so enthusiastic about their profession. Once again Eugene Liscio, thank you for everything. You are always welcome to England anytime.”

 

CLA+ Sessions and Learning Gain

As part of a national project funded by HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) there is an opportunity to take part in sessions completing an online test which will help you to discover your skill level and could assist you in identifying areas for development. The feedback can then be used to create a personalised development plan you can follow to help you work on any areas that you feel would be beneficial to you in the future.

In return for completing the test you will receive £40*

The Collegiate Learning Assessment is a standardised online test that is used to assess certain skills that you may possess. No subject specific knowledge is required or tested and it will not impact upon your degree marks (apart from giving you the opportunity to improve following reflection of the feedback you receive). The test will provide an objective assessment about the critical skills you have at the current time. The test is open to any undergraduate student studying any subject at any level.

The test takes 90 minutes to complete and results are returned in four to six weeks. Once you have your results you can meet with your personal tutor or an Academic Skills Tutor to identify your strengths and areas for development, and draw up your own personalised plan for development.

Once you have completed the test there is an opportunity to complete a 30 minute survey on learning engagement.
(*The £40 has to be claimed through Unitemps – Unitemps will complete an ID check and accepted forms of ID will be required . This check will have to be completed before payment. More details on how to do this will be provided in the sessions)

The sessions available are as follows

There is no need to book, just turn up to the session that is best for you.
Please arrive promptly as sessions are timed and allow 2 HOURS for the session

If you would like anymore information contact Stacey.Stanyer@staffs.ac.uk