So, I almost knocked over both Emily Thornberry and Floella Benjamin in one day… Forensic science is in a challenging place at the moment. The well-publicised closure of the national Forensic Science Service and the rapid marketisation of forensic provision has left the sector a little winded. Combined with the complexity of contracting out forensic services, the increasing demands associated with ISO accreditation, the budgetary cuts, the fragmentation of research and so on, it is little wonder that the criminal justice system and the public…Continue Reading “House of Lords Science & Technology Committee – Inquiry into Forensic Science”

I’ve been looking forward to getting back into the classroom again. For all the peace and quiet of the summer period, there’s nothing like the hustle and bustle of the first few weeks of a new academic year to get you excited for the possibilities ahead. So I was very pleased to see that I’d be starting the first morning of the first day of the first week back with my new final year forensic students. One thing that often surprises people is that an…Continue Reading “Back into the classroom…”

It seems that everyone is writing posts about their holidays at the moment. And I’m going to be one of them! Recently I was off on leave, but because of my endless drive to better myself (I know, I know, how does one improve on this..?), some of my holiday was spent learning about stuff. Namely, the Romans and life along Hadrian’s Wall. A three-day stay allowed us to explore a number of fascinating sites in the area, like Corbridge, Birdoswald and the incomparable Vindolanda. I’m…Continue Reading “Another Brick in the Wall (which is a terrible pun, even by my standards…)”

The problem with having friends is that they invariably ask you to do things for them, and you can’t say no. This is one of the reasons why I generally try to avoid social connections – although I undermine my own principle here by being an absolute delight to be around… It was just such a request that took me to the docks in London… I’ve said before how much I enjoy visiting the Museum of London, and more so because I am good friends…Continue Reading “veni vidi vici”

“The story of transatlantic slavery is a fundamental and tragic human story that must be told and retold, and never be forgotten.” I’ve been desperate to visit the International Slavery Museum for ages. I’m currently an external examiner for the forensic anthropology undergrad and postgrad degrees at Liverpool John Moores University and so come over to the city a couple of times a year. I really like Liverpool – partly, as I’ve said before, I like post-industrial cities that look both to the past and…Continue Reading “The International Slavery Museum, Liverpool”

This weekend there was an article on the BBC website about photographic student Harry Lloyd-Evans who photographs surgical implants that are recovered and recycled after cremation. On his website, Harry states that: “Implanted is a project which presents images of discarded surgical implants at the end of life. Most of the implants have been recovered following cremation, the exception being the pacemakers which are removed prior to cremation.” “On first viewing my images I found them unusual and strangely beautiful.  I decided to try to…Continue Reading “Implanting Art into the forensic sciences”

Everyone here knows that I like to play video games. I always have, and my transition from ugly duckling to beautiful swan can be mapped alongside my gaming platforms: Spectrum 48k and Spectrum 128k at school, Amiga and Atari Lynx II (if anyone remembers that…) at college, PlayStation 1 and PS2 at university, PlayStation 3 in my first academic posts and now the X Box One with my own boys. I’ve never been massively into playing on the PC – despite the fact that my…Continue Reading “Eat. Sleep. Mine. Repeat.”

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (and frankly if you don’t, you really should – I’m a delight!) will know that in my recent visit to the School of Health and Social Care, I got a bit lost and stumbled across this in a dark corridor… It was pointed out to me that this was all very Westworld, and that in turn got me thinking a little about role-play and simulation. Not the murdery kind like on the show, but rather the educational…Continue Reading “These violent delights have violent ends…”

Criticism forms one of the pillars of academia. It’s constant and everywhere, and goes hand-in-hand with rejection – papers booted out, grant applications chucked in funders’ bins, mocking of your promotion application… In theory this criticism should be part of a process of improvement and enhancement. The idea is that peer-review in whatever form it takes, acts simultaneously as a gatekeeper to quality in the discipline, and also as a vehicle for improvement. Of course that only works if the criticism is constructive. It’s like…Continue Reading “Everyone’s a critic…”

I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to see the recent Kenneth Branagh version of Murder on the Orient Express, but it’s very watchable. It’s got a great cast, it looks suitably opulent and has some nice lines in it. I’ve seen it twice now – once on my flight to Seattle for the AAFS in Feb, and then again this month at home. The nice thing about doing this is that you get to appreciate the film first as if in the dark,…Continue Reading “My name is Hercule Poirot and I am probably the greatest detective in the world…”