Dr Rhonda Wheate

Senior Teaching Fellow

Law

Personal statement

Being fond of finding out why and how things work, and equally fond of reading, writing and speaking, I undertook dual qualifications in Science (being awarded a University Medal for chemistry, Hons Class I) and in Law (Hons Class I).

I was then given the opportunity to work with Professors Eric Magnusson and James Robertson, undertaking PhD research examining how well real juries in criminal trials comprehend scientific evidence. (The answer, perhaps unsurprisingly, is 'not very well', though the reasons are fascinating and many.) This extensive programme of empirical research with real jurors and mock jurors was facilitated by an excellent network of curious minds in the judiciary and legal profession of the Australian Captial Territory, including the Supreme Court there. My PhD research also included empirical work with forensic scientists from all seven states and territories of Australia, and work with the National Institute of Forensic Science.

My later research (both in Australia and the UK) has focused on the metamorphosis of forensic science into expert evidence, and the use of that evidence by juries, the judiciary and the legal profession. In particular I am interested in the scientific foundations of evidence, and the way in which it is utilised in criminal proceedings. 

My ongoing research agenda and scientific knowledge has had the benefit of being exposed to the 'coal face', through working on scientific evidence for the defence at The Forensic Institute in Glasgow. Researching and reflecting on the law and science in action remains an enduring focus of mine.

More recently, at the University of Strathclyde, I have the privilege of working with the Law Clinic and Law School to provide Clinical Legal Education to our students, and access to justice for some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

I also teach criminal law, the law of evidence, and ethics and justice, as well as supervising Honours, Masters and PhD students in these areas.

Publications

The Young grandfather : a new approach to the reliability of expert evidence in Scottish criminal cases or business as usual?
Nicolson Donald, Wheate Rhonda
Juridical Review Vol 2020, pp. 111-152 (2020)
The importance of DNA evidence to juries in criminal trials
Wheate Rhonda
International Journal of Evidence and Proof Vol 14, pp. 129–145 (2010)
https://doi.org/10.1350/ijep.2010.14.2.348
A tale of two approaches - the NAS report and the Law Commission consultation paper on forensic science
Wheate Rhonda M, Jamieson Allan
International Commentary on Evidence Vol 7 (2009)
https://doi.org/10.2202/1554-4567.1110
Australian forensic scientists : a view from the witness box
Wheate Rhonda
Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences Vol 40, pp. 123-146 (2008)
https://doi.org/10.1080/00450610802452228
Australian juries and scientific evidence
Wheate Rhonda
Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences Vol 38, pp. 75-84 (2006)
https://doi.org/10.1080/00450610609410634

More publications

Professional activities

BBC Scotland Radio Sunday Morning Interview on Jury Selection
Interviewee
14/2/2021
Network for the Public Communication of Science and Technology (External organisation)
Member
2021
Law and Society Association (External organisation)
Member
2021
Socio-Legal Studies Association (External organisation)
Member
2021
The regulation of DNA collection and retention for use in criminal investigations in Kuwait
Examiner
8/2020
PhD review of ‘Employment Law- Independent Advice agencies in the changing employment law landscape’ (Candidate: Lorna MacDonald)
Advisor
6/2020

More professional activities

Projects

Goffman meets Popper in the Criminal Courts
Wheate, Rhonda (Principal Investigator)
HaSS COVID-19 Student Project Fund awarded to supervise a research assistant student (Calum Harris) for 10 hours research on Erving Goffman's "Frame Analysis" and Karl Popper's "Scientific Method", building a multi-disciplinary literature database to interrogate why sub-standard scientific evidence (forensic science) is permitted in criminal trials in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and NZ.
19-Jan-2020 - 19-Jan-2021
Thai Judiciary Visit 2019
Wheate, Rhonda (Principal Investigator)
I provided a seminar in Criminal Law and Jury Trials to 35 senior members of the Thai judiciary, who were visiting Strathclyde for an academic programme on Scots Law.
14-Jan-2019 - 27-Jan-2019
Public Confidence and Partnership in Policing
Wheate, Rhonda (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2017 - 26-Jan-2018

More projects