I teach a variety of topics in forensic science, principally in the area of forensic biology, across first to final year BSc/MChem Forensic and Analytical Chemistry undergraduates, and to MSc Forensic Science postgraduate students. I lecture on a range of trace evidence types, including fibres, hairs, pollen, glass and paint, and cover the search and recovery of trace evidence as well as the evaluation of its significance using frequency databases. I also cover methods for the analysis of trace evidence, including a variety of specialised microscopy techniques and colour/dye analyses. I deliver advanced modules on DNA evidence, covering theoretical and practical aspects of DNA profiling, the interpretation and population genetic analysis of DNA profiling data, and methods for dealing with DNA mixtures, which result in profiles that include contributions from more than one individual. I teach biological evidence evaluation, including the evaluation of sexual offence and DNA evidence, incorporating the calculation of random match probabilities and likelihood ratios, and the use of the Bayesian framework for assessing the significance of evidence. I also coordinate the major crime scene exercise, which runs as part of the MSc Forensic Science, during which students investigate simulated outdoor crime scenes, develop forensic strategy, undertake all laboratory analysis and evidence interpretation, then present their evidence in court in a joint exercise with the University of Strathclyde Law School.
My research background is in molecular and population genetics, which are the fields of science that underpin the analysis, statistical interpretation and evaluation of forensic DNA evidence. I have therefore developed forensic genetics research by applying my experience to questions of a forensic nature. I am interested in the development of nucleic acid (DNA and RNA) assays to determine the source, type, age and time of deposition of forensic samples, such as single or mixed body fluid stains and touch DNA. Current research in forensic genetics includes development of DNA methylation models to accurately determine the age of the donor of unknown body fluid samples, RNA degradation assays to determine the time of deposition of body fluid stains and the use of novel DNA profiling methods across different global populations.
- External Examiner, Northumbria University
- External Examiner, University of Central Lancashire
- Forensic genetics: beyond DNA profiling.
- Forensic Capability Network (External organisation)
- Scottish Institute for Policing Research (External organisation)
- External Examiner, Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London
More professional activities
- Development of a kit for the collection of human DNA evidence in wildlife crime cases in Scotland.
- Haddrill, Penny (Principal Investigator) Govan, James (Co-investigator)
- Wildlife crime is a high priority for the Scottish Government, yet prosecution and conviction rates remain low for these types of crime. This results in part from the fact that many of these crimes occur in remote locations, meaning that Police Scotland face challenges in the gathering of sufficient evidence for the identification and prosecution of perpetrators. It has been shown that the perpetrator’s DNA can be recovered from the carcasses of poached deer and from baits, traps and carcasses in raptor persecution cases, but this technology has rarely been used in the investigation of these types of crime. We will develop a kit to collect human DNA from wildlife crime scenes, demonstrate that it can be effectively used to recover DNA of suitable quality and quantity to produce reportable profiles in the laboratory and natural environment, and develop a training programme to instruct individuals in the use of the kits. This will facilitate the capture of evidence at the scene of wildlife crimes, increasing the utilisation of forensic science at source for these cases, with the ultimate aim of increasing rates of prosecution and conviction of individuals who perpetrate crime against animals in Scotland.
Pure and Applied Chemistry
Royal College Building
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