#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.”


Law Alumni Present Research Findings at HMP Stafford

Lecturer Tawney Bennett and Alumnus Amber Mapledoram presented their research findings to senior management at HMP Stafford on the 25th April.

Lecturer, Tawney Bennett (left) and Amber Mapledoram (right)

Their research consisted of an empirical and largely qualitative analysis of the prisoner complaints system, through distributing questionnaires and carrying out in-depth interviews with prisoners.

The researchers conducted their investigation through a prisoner-oriented lens, focusing on the prisoners’ perceptions, experiences and feelings regarding the complaints process.

Alumnus Amber Mapledoram

Their research spanned approximately 10 months and resulted in practical recommendations being proposed to senior management, to implement into the future practice of the prison and promote positive change. The suggested implementations were created with an emphasis on the importance of procedural justice and treating prisoners with fairness and respect.

The recommendations were well received by the prison management team and they expressed a keen desire to maintain the blossoming partnership with Staffordshire University.

Alumnus and Lecturer Tawney Bennett

Future research projects have been organised with the Deputy Governor of HMP Stafford, offering Staffordshire University students an insightful and invaluable opportunity to implement change in the Criminal Justice System.

Forensic and Crime Science Society Hosts Student-Led Conference

On the 21st March 2018, the Forensic and Crime Science Society organised and hosted a Student Led Conference. The aim of the conference was to promote and encourage students to showcase their own research and to develop their skills, whilst inspiring other students to do the same.

The event was formally opened with a welcome talk by Dr Sean Curley, Dean for the School of Law, Policing and Forensics. Dr Curley greeted the students and their student colleagues; also in attendance at the conference were representatives from the staff of Staffordshire University, as well as invited guests and experts.

Dr Sean Curley, Dean of the School of Law, Policing and Forensics, opened the event

After the first round of presentations by students and guest speakers, a special lunch and poster presentation was provided. This gave further opportunities for everyone involved in the conference to discuss the presentations and to provide a vital networking opportunity for the student and staff in attendance.

Dominic Davis- Foster: developing a system for identifying the brand of ammunition from gun-shot residue.

Kurstie Burgess, a past student, gave her talk on crime scene reconstruction and shared some employability advice.

Sophena’s research examines how individuals view injury maps in court and explores a move to an interactive viewing format, using participants.

Nadine’s final year research focuses on extracting data from Fitbit devices for use as evidence in forensic investigation. It also features in the Journal of the Crime Sciences – CSEye.

Alice presented her research on using images to develop a method using RGB values for identification & quantify fibres.

Lauren presented her research on disarticulated remains.

Well done to all of the students involved and a huge thank you to our guest speakers and visitors who attended.

British Conference of Undergraduate Research

Some of our Forensic students represented the Criminal Justice and Forensics department at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research, held at the University of Sheffield. Each student presented their own research over the two days, 12th-13th April.

A presentation on the Analysis of Corrosive Chemicals on Clothing by Tasmin Crompton

Dominic Davis-Foster presented his research on Identifying the Brand of Ammunition from GSR

Afsane Kruszelnicki talked about her research into Persistence of Fibres in Underwater Crime Scenes

Shauna Richardson talked about Modern Slavery

Sarah Hedges presented her research into The Impact Menstruation has on Semen Persistence in Sexual Offences Cases

Adeniyi Popoola presented his poster on Use of ESLA to Retrieve Fibres from Different Surfaces

Natalie Goswell presented her research on investigating whether Contextual and Emotional Bias Influences the Interpretation of Bloodstains

Nadia discussed her research Investigating & Quantifying the Amount of GSR Recovered from a Variety of Interior Car Surfaces

Jade Chapman presented her poster on Identifying & Validating Techniques for Detecting Heroin in Porous Objects

Liss Chadwick presented her poster: An investigative approach of easily-accessible chemicals on porcine bone as a means of understanding their destructive potential 

Renniel Pena presented his poster on Comparative Analysis of Bloodstain Aging Between Animal Blood and Human Blood


Researching Intimacy and Sexuality – a Guest Lecture by Jacqui Gabb

On 22nd March, Sociologist Professor Jacqui Gabb, from the Open University, delivered a guest lecture to our level 5 Sociology and Criminology students about qualitative research methods and researching sexualities and intimacy.

Dr Em Temple-Malt, Post Graduate Course Leader in Sociology and Criminology organised the lecture for the students:

During the lecture [Jacqui] captivated us with insightful stories drawn from three of her research studies: ‘Perverting Motherhood?’, ‘Behind Closed Doors’ and ‘Enduring Love?

Lessons were learned about thinking carefully through our recruitment practices. The way we write ourselves and who we are looking for into our research project advertisements might unintentionally exclude and silence certain people from coming forward to tell their family stories, because they don’t feel they quite fit what we are looking for in a research participant.

I am a massive fan of creative research methods and using elicitation tools and techniques in my own qualitative research projects. Thus, I personally loved hearing the motivations behind weaving different methodological techniques together in order to bring about multi-sensory and more holistic stories which might not otherwise emerge if only one research method technique was used.

I concurred with Jacqui’s conclusion that as researchers, we need to be braver and push ourselves to use the data that emerges when we embed elicitation techniques into conventional interview methods.

“It was great to meet another researcher and get an insight into adaptations of research methods we have already been taught. it emphasised that research is not a one size fits all type of thing, and that sometimes you need to adapt methods and yourself to achieve greater results” – Nat Campbell, BA (Hons) Sociology.

For many of us, and I am guilty of this too, the well-trodden path of analysing certain forms of data is all too easy to replicate. We insert materials into our interviews to encourage a participant to tell more detailed, richer stories (e.g. time line, weekly-diary, task-grid, photos, concentric circles, collage or sketch etc) and then only analyse the narrative told within the interview transcript, for example, rather than analysing the work that the participant does with this additional elicitation material. This point has certainly inspired me to be braver in future work I do with elicitation techniques.

“Personal is Political”

She also reminded us about the capacity of our research to be political and to make a difference. The personal is indeed political and where possible, it is crucial to take up those opportunities to tell decision makers and stake holders about the lives of those who we are researching.

A memorable quote: “What does it cost to keep a relationship together? The cost of a cup of tea”

While the lecture was brilliant, I would imagine that the biggest highlight for the student audience was the workshop activities. Jacqui provided small examples of data from the Enduring Love study and, in small groups, the audience were invited to drill down and analyse key aspects of the data. Engaging in such tasks meant students were left with an appreciation of the extraordinary efforts and ‘relationship work’ that some research participants were undertaking, in order to make quite difficult, intimate relationships work.

“What does it cost to keep a relationship together? The cost of a cup of tea”

The final part of the workshop invited students to have a go at making their own emotion maps with colourful emoticon stickers.

“Having Jacqui speak to us not only gave us the opportunity to ask any questions about her research, but also gave me more ideas on how to use multiple data collection techniques in my own research.” – Jack Whalley, BA (Hons) Sociology, Criminology and Deviance

They then had the opportunity to feedback to Jacqui how they might use this particular approach within their own dissertation research projects.

Using emotion maps in research

I have followed Jacqui’s research with a keen and passionate interest since I started my academic studies in 2006. One of the reasons her work is so compelling and satisfying is the equal amount of attention she gives to the research methods used to elicit the ‘messy’ stories of relational, emotional practices of queer families and relationships.

Her approach to qualitative research methods is inspirational – and I’ve attempted to instill this passion for research methods into my teaching of my undergraduate students. I won’t lie, this is one of the proudest moments in my career to date. I am immensely proud of my undergraduate students and the research projects that they are pursuing, and I got to introduce my fabulous level 5 students to Professor Jacqui Gabb!


Introducing the Forensic Fibres Microplastic Research Group

The Forensic Fibres Microplastic Research Group, here at Staffordshire University, are currently undertaking projects in a variety of areas surrounding microplastics and plastic pollution.

Currently, they are working collaboratively with the University of Palermo, University of Malta and AquaBioTech on the ‘SeaSweep’ project, to monitor marine litter in European seas using Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

Another collaborative project they are contributing to is ‘Marine Microplastics: a Multidisciplinary Study Quantifying Sources, rates and sinks’ with the University of Bristol. This project aims to gain a further understanding of the sources, transport and fate of marine microplastics, to assess the risks associated with microplastics in the oceans.

On Wednesday 7th March 2018, the team attended the ‘Plastics in the Ocean: Challenges and Solutions’ conference in Cambridge hosted by the British Antarctic Survey. During the event they disseminated information about two other projects they are undertaking at Staffordshire University.

“We are conducting research into the level of microplastic pollution in freshwater, specifically the River Trent, by collecting sediment and water samples from multiple different locations. We will be collecting these samples along its duration from where it begins in Biddulph Moor, Staffordshire, to where it meets the River Ouse and forms the Humber Estuary in Lincolnshire. This is to ensure that microplastic pollution can be more accurately quantified. Additionally, we are aiming to combine forensic techniques of fibre analysis, contamination prevention, evidence tracking and evaluation with machine learning and computer vision to create a fully automated method for quantifying and characterising macro and micro plastic pollution. “

On the 23rd May 2018, Dr Claire Gwinnett also delivered a presentation on the comparison of analytical techniques for microplastic analysis at the Royal Society of Chemistry Microplastic workshop.

Dr Claire Gwinnett

Finally, we can now announce that our very own Dr Claire Gwinnet has been recognised with a prestigious scholarship for her research into the global problem of microplastics. She is the second person from the School Law, Policing and Forensics to receive this award and is among only 150 people to receive the Winston Churchill Traveling Fellowship this year.

This funding will allow Dr Gwinnett to build on this research by travelling across the USA and Australasia, visiting fellow scientists who also partake in the analysis of microplastics and the education around plastic pollution. She will be working with the Rozalia Project joining them on their 2018 expedition along the Hudson River, sampling microplastics from the river and the air from onboard what is recognised as the greenest sailing research vessel in the world, the famous American Promise.

You can keep update with their research news on Twitter and their Blog.


Student’s Research Published in Journal – CSEye

Level 6 Forensic Investigation student, Nadine Jones, has had her research published in the Journal of the Crime Sciences – CSEye.

Her research looked at ‘Analysing How Data Extracted From Fitbit Devices Can Add Value to Criminal Investigations‘.

“The past decade has seen a rapid development in cases relating to digital forensics, with criminals utilising technology as a platform for their criminal activity. Internet of Things (IoT) devices are any device which uses the internet to share data. IoT is becoming more popular and is now present in most homes around the world.”

Congratulations to Nadine and her supervisor, Dean Northfield.

You can read the full piece on the journal here.

Innovation Through Collaboration: INTREPID Conference 2018

The Staffordshire Forensic Partnership (SFP) was invited to participate in the 2018 INTREPID conference, entitled ‘Innovation through Collaboration’ held in Leicester on 1st-2nd March 2018.    

The two-day event, jointly run by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, was well attended by delegates from all over the country including Police Scotland, which considering this was during the heavy snow was quite impressive. Though Senior Sergeant Duncan McCarthy from the Queensland Police Service won the prize for the furthest travelled.

Dr Claire Gwinnett

We took three students, Sophie Hartless (PhD student), Jessica Dunne (3rd year student) and Jonathan Andrews (3rd year student), who presented posters on their work as part of the SFP.

Left to right: Jessica Dunne, Sophie Hartless and Johnathan Andrews

Jessica won 1st prize for her poster on ‘Recovery of DNA from Aluminium Powder Fingerprint Tape Lifts Using DNA-17’.  Stuart Bell (Staffordshire Police) and David Flatman-Fairs (Staffordshire University) also gave an oral presentation entitled ‘Staffordshire Forensic Partnership: Past, Present and Future’ on the second day.

Jessica Dunne with her certificate

Modern Slavery and International Law

Elizabeth Faulkner, Staffordshire University Law Lecturer, attended two conference events during January. The first event focused on ‘Modern Slavery’ and the second on ‘International Law’ – during which she was able to present aspects of her own research. 

January 23rd 2018, King’s College, London – The Politics of Numbers: ‘Modern Slavery’, Prof. Joel Quirk, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

This was a rather exciting event for me to attend, having read the works of Prof. Joel Quirk whilst undertaking my doctoral research. The talk was chaired by Associate Prof. Sam Okyere (University of Nottingham) and together they form part of the team from Beyond Trafficking Slavery BTS. The uniqueness of BTS is that it links academic research with journalism, attracting over a million readers globally. BTS encompasses a relatively niche school of thought in terms of contemporary discussions of slavery, labour and exploitation.

Joel Quirk delivered his talk upon the ‘Politics of Numbers: ‘Modern Slavery’, which was incredibly interesting as he illustrated links between the statistics that I had not considered. The talk essentially drew together my preconceived ideas and provided them with clarity and support. Definitely worth the trip to King’s College, London. One of the highlights of the day was exchanging stories of strange encounters overseas whilst undertaking research with Joel and Sam, on route to Five Guys for food!

January 31st 2018 – The Neglected Methodologies of International Law: Empirical, Socio-Legal and Comparative

This event was truly unique in terms of content, organised by Rossana Deplano and Paolo Vargiu (University of Leicester). The format for the day was split into two panels and a series of simultaneous panels. The two panels namely, Panel 1 – Empirical and Socio-Legal and Panel 2 – Comparative and Critical Approaches, offered a wealth of information.


Presentations included:

The epistemological need or socio-legal research in international law’ (Prof. Fiona De Londras, University of Birmingham.

‘From preserving sovereignty to protecting humanity: the untold story of the numbers behind the UN Security Council’s practice’ (Dr Rossana Deplano, University of Leicester).

‘Doing it differently? Pluralising International Economic Law Scholarship’ (Dr Celine Tan, University of Warwick).

The final session of the day provided the opportunity for early career academics to present their research, and the methodology behind the project, to a small group of peers, chaired by two more senior academics. My panel included Mikolaj Firlej (University of Oxford) and Alice Margaria (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, and it was chaired by Dr Celine Tan (University of Warwick) and Dr Richard Craven (University of Leicester). I discussed my abstract entitled ‘A critique of the historical evolution of the international legal responses to the trafficking of children’. Celine suggested that I should undertake archival research in Geneva as I would uncover a wealth of resources, referring back to her own experiences in Washington D.C when none of the sources were available electronically.

The workshop provided a great networking opportunity and the organiser Dr Rosanna Deplano intends to develop a book proposal of an edited collection of the papers presented, including my own!