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”

Earlier this year I wrote a bit about the forensic aspects of Kenneth Branagh’s version of Murder on the Orient Express, a film which I really enjoyed. Since the BBC’s recent version of The ABC Murders with Poirot over Xmas seemed to be so divisive, I thought I’d wade in again. So here’s my hot take, as they say… For me, this wasn’t really a three-part murder mystery, but rather an interesting exploration of how one can change. The grisly murders (and they were spectacularly…Continue Reading “Easy as ABC…”

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”

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…”

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”

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…”

I was talking to my wife recently about the ‘Facebook-effect’ of being an academic – whereby people only see the positive things of the work, which results in a sense that everyone else is doing much better than you and that its so much easier for them. For me, I don’t like to go on about how hard it is to do the job well and get a decent work-life balance, because, being terribly British about it, I assume that no-one wants to hear me…Continue Reading “Publication bias”

To my shame, I knew very little about the history of Cyprus before I went there earlier this month. I knew our military went there, and that British youth head there for debauched holidays, but that’s about it. When we got to Cyprus, and after my eyes had adjusted to that unusual bright thing in the sky in January, the first thing that surprised me was how British the place was. Three-pronged plugs, roundabouts, pelican crossings. Naturally our first thought was “Ahh, this is another…Continue Reading “Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus”

Well, there we go then. #endofanera as I imagine the kids are saying… After three years in the hot seat, I’ve finished my stint as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Science & Justice. When I put my name forward to take over back in 2014, I did so partly because I wanted to see if I was up to the challenge, but mainly because Science & Justice has always been one of my favourite journals. Focused primarily on Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences members, it was…Continue Reading “The King is dead. Long live the King!”