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…”

“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”

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…”

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…”

One thing that you learn from talking to your children is that oftentimes you’re not nearly as interesting as you think you are… What can I do but take these painfully learnt lessons and apply them in the classroom? So in recognition of how boring I can be and to break things up a bit, I like to bring in TV and films to help contextualise or liven up what I’m talking about. I’ve used clips from the greatest TV show ever made (Total Wipeout…Continue Reading “It’s important to me that you know that Han shot first…”

Now, the problem with being an utter delight, is that people want to talk to you. Like, all the time. In every possible situation. The pressures of being such a joy to be around are great.   Like most people I commute to work. But I don’t drive in, I take the train. I much prefer the train to the car – it’s easier, cheaper and as an anthropologist it gives me considerable opportunity to people-watch. Also, the train is a microcosm of human society…Continue Reading “Planes, trains and automobiles…”

Last night, I was thinking a lot about giving lectures. This is not unusual, but this time it wasn’t the content that interested me, but the mechanics of lecturing. Three things happened over the past two days which brought this to the forefront of my mind. First, I’d come back from a fantastic 2-day leadership development residential; second, I’d just given four hours straight teaching, and; third, I’d just watched Jerry before Seinfeld. The leadership workshop was great. Run by the Leadership Foundation for HE…Continue Reading “Comic Timing…”

It’s been very quiet on campus recently (a little too quiet…), but that was all shattered last week as our new students arrived at Teesside. That’s right, last week was Welcome Week!  It also marked the first Welcome Week where I’ve been actively involved in crafting the week (well, I say ‘actively’ – it’s largely been our fantastic School Registrar Michelle Dickson and her team who have pulled together a workable week…). For me, this week is all about setting the tone for study and…Continue Reading “Every new journey starts with a single step…”