One day, I will learn not to post a glib tweet about a TV show right before bed. But that day will not be anytime soon as we all know that I like the attention… When it comes to forensic science on TV shows, I’m usually pretty zen*. Like a leaf in the wind. I know that some artistic licence is needed because this is entertainment, and much forensic analysis is visually rather boring. And slow. I’ve even advised TV shows myself so that they…Continue Reading ““Do not touch the charred crotch””

When my twelve year old called me a nerd recently, I pointed out that ‘nerd’ pays the bills. And then pointed out that he was an even bigger nerd than I was. And then we laughed, high-fived and went to do our respective homework because that’s how we roll. Clearly, he’s not wrong. And gaming is where he usually points this out to me. The resurgence of Dungeons and Dragons, the fact that Warhammer is now worth over £1 billion, and that tabletop gaming generally…Continue Reading “Choose your own adventures…”

Now I’ve done a fair bit of media work in the past (Shock! Academic known for being a bit of a show-off has history of being a bit of a show-off…) but nothing to the intensity of this past week. Our paper reinterpreting the context of death for victims of Vesuvius at Herculaneum has finally come out in the journal Antiquity. To be honest, this paper should have been out a year ago but it’s been a bit of a battle to get it finished….Continue Reading “BREAKING NEWS: Only I could make a 2000 year old volcanic eruption all about me…”

I don’t know if you realise this, but I’m a bit of a nerd. I hide it well, behind this cool exterior of senior management sophistication, but it’s there. Academically it focuses on studying people from their skeletons, and particularly their burned skeletons. I can remember exactly where my interest here began – in the library of the University of Bradford in the winter of 1998. I was in a dark corridor of shelving pouring over bound volumes of journals (now I’m really showing my…Continue Reading “Lets get ready to CRUMBEL!”

Sometimes, just sometimes, I agree to do something before I’ve fully thought through how I can actually do it. And sometimes, just sometimes, innocent people get caught up in all of this. Now, I either do this because I have a pathological fear of saying ‘No’, or because I have unfaltering confidence in the abilities of my colleagues. Someone once said (Google tells me it was David Ogilvy, whoever he was…) that you should “Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them…Continue Reading “I choo-choo choose you!”

As someone who teaches, I spend the summer recharging my batteries to get ready for the next academic year. As someone who has responsibility for people who teach, I spend the summer wondering why more people aren’t preparing teaching material for the next academic year! It’s very stressful being me… Anyway, I guess what I should be doing is seeing if I can make such prep easier.  Which is what I’ve done! You’re very welcome… When our new team took over the editorial roles of…Continue Reading “A new forensic teaching resource: JFLM Commentaries”

I presume that I’m not the only one who watched the start of episode 4 of this final season of Game of Thrones, and as the emotional memorial of the dead took place, and we said goodbye to some of our favourite heroes, turned to their partner and said solemnly, “Those are some efficient pyre constructions there”… As we know, I’m a big fan of GoT – I even use it in my teaching and take valuable leadership lessons from it (for example, I am…Continue Reading “A Song of Ice and Fire – but mainly fire…”

I’ve recently been interviewed by Chemical and Engineering News magazine, which is funny considering I’m neither a chemist nor an engineer. In fact, I’m likely to be fatally disastrous as either. Recently, a new burned bone paper came out in Analytical Chemistry (Mamede et al., ‘Potential of Bioapatite Hydroxyls for Research on Archeological Burned Bone’, Anal. Chem., 2018, 90 (19), pp 11556–11563). The paper explores the use of inelastic neutron scattering (INS) and FTIR-ATR to analyse burned bones and hopefully distinguish ancient burned bones from just ancient bones….Continue Reading “Incremental Growth”

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”

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…)”