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Our research

Research areas

This list is not exhaustive, but intends to illustrate our research activities.

Fingermarks

These marks may be left behind on a variety of surfaces and are the mainstay of the criminal justice system. Over the years, we have become a world-leading centre in fingermark research in collaboration with the University of Canberra and overseas universities, the Australian Federal Police and other law enforcement organisations.

Examples of recent/current projects include:

  • Novel immunogenic reagent for fingermak detection;
  • Near infrared detection of fingermarks;
  • Thermal development of fingermarks;
  • Development of novel cyanoacrylates and FTIR imaging for fingermark detection;
  • Fingermark detection methods using nanotechnology;
  • Development of a 'fingerprint standard' for QA purposes;
  • Statistical evidential value of fingerprints.

DNA and forensic biology

DNA based evidence is one of the strongest connecting tools investigators have at their disposal. DNA evidence can link suspect to either a crime scene or victim. DNA evidence can be recovered from skin, blood, semen, saliva, cells and hair. In fact, DNA can be recovered from teeth and bones after thousands of years, and it can also be extracted from animals, birds, etc – making DNA based evidence to be invaluable in many aspects.

Some examples of the expertise in this specific area include:

  • Evaluating the role and impact of forensic DNA profiling in the criminal justice system (including DNA statistics);
  • Inferring phenotypic and ancestry intelligence from autosomal and Y-chromosome SNP analyses;
  • Forensic anatomy;
  • Forensic entomology;
  • Facial mapping;
  • DNA and forensic biology.

Toxicology and illicit drugs

Forensic toxicology is the use of toxicology, and other disciplines such as analytical chemistry, pharmacology and clinical chemistry to assist forensic investigation in drug use, poisoning or death.

Some examples of the expertise in this specific area include:

  • Illicit drug profiling for intelligence and evidence purposes
  • Elucidation of the role of morphine metabolites in deaths from morphine poisoning
  • Detection of peptide hormone used as sports doping agents
  • Use of novel methods to detect biochemical changes following exposure to toxic and carcinogenic substances.

Trace evidence

Trace evidence can be defined as the surviving evidence of a former occurrence or action of some event or agent. There is an emerging view that trace actually defines forensic science as a discipline because it constitutes the most basic material or physical information on crime.

It is often (but not only) a very small amount of substance, often too small to be measured. At a more practical level trace it is often defined as the analysis of materials that, because of their size or texture, transfer from one location to another and persist there for some period of time. Microscopy, either directly, or as an adjunct to another instrument, is involved.

Some example of our expertise and research in the area include:

  • Fibres;
  • Paint;
  • Glass;
  • Explosive and fire residues;
  • Miscellaneous traces.

Forensic analytical chemistry

Analytical chemistry is the study of separation, identification, and quantification of chemical components of natural and artificial materials. It also focuses on improvements in experimental design, chemometrics, and the creation of new measurement tools to provide better chemical information. Forensic analytical chemistry is one of many applications of analytical chemistry. This field is normally applied as tools to address questions related to trace evidence, forensic toxicology and drugs, etc.

Some examples of the expertise in this specific area include:

  • Hyperspectral (chemical) imaging of forensic samples;
  • Pre-blast and post-blast explosive residue technologies;
  • Development of forensic portable instrumentation.
  • Lab on a chip