An investigation of the techniques for detection and development of latent fingermarks on porous substrates that have been wet
Describe your research project
My research aims to investigate existing and novel techniques used to development fingermarks on porous substrates, such as paper, that have been wet.
Currently, there is only one technique used routinely around the world to develop fingermarks on paper that has been wet (or after the use of other fingermark development techniques). This technique is called Physical Developer (PD). It is not currently known how or why PD is effective in developing fingermarks, which makes it difficult to improve or replace. Replacement and improvement is important as the technique, although effective, is difficult to make up, use, is expensive, and is extremely sensitive to contaminants.
The research investigates what chemical components in fingermark residue react with PD, to gain a further understanding of the technique. The current belief held worldwide is that PD reacts with the constituents in the residue that are not water soluble like fats and oil, however the research indicates otherwise, and challenges the current notion.
What is the aim of your project?
The aim of the project is to ensure that all fingermarks available on a porous article of evidence (like paper) are developed by law enforcement agencies using a reliable, validated series of techniques.
Why did you choose to pursue a research degree as opposed to going into the work force? Why this area of research?
I completed my Honours year by optimising a fingermark development solution called nile red, for the detection of fingermarks on porous substrates that have been wet. Throughout my Honours year, it became increasingly clear that there was a major lack of understanding surrounding the effectiveness of the solely used technique called PD, found through comparison of nile red with PD.
It became increasingly important to identify why my optimised nile red solution developed fingermarks after PD, that PD had not developed (and vice versa).
This finding led to the creation of my PhD project, which looks at ensuring all fingermarks on an item of evidence are reliably developed by one (or more) techniques.
What is your daily activity?
Some days I will go into the lab, look at my results from the day before and determine what should be done that day. Because my project aims at understanding an already established technique, the research is mostly made up of experimental trials which look at different conditions that make the technique effective or ineffective.
The research is unique, in that there is no set plan day-to-day and can end up anywhere!
Other days involve teaching first year chemistry - which I absolutely love! It is so satisfying to help students understand difficult concepts, and very fun at the same time!
What attracted you to research at UTS Science?
I did my undergraduate degree at UTS, my Honours year at UTS - so was there really any other choice?? UTS is internationally known for its fantastic Forensics programs, and its world-class research. There was no other place I would consider!
What is your future?
After completing my PhD, I hope to work in the area of Document Examination - hopefully inclusive of some fingermark development!