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New academic year approaching

By Kirstie Buckridge, on 24 September 2015

Next week we will welcome our new cohort of 20+ MSc Crime and Forensic Science students to UCL. Our previous cohort recently submitted their dissertations and are already off working, continuing their studies or having a well-earned break! We have some exciting extra-curricular events planned for the next two terms with lots of seminars plus a public event Forensic Science: “The Good…The Bad…The Ugly?” taking place on 8th October. We hope they will enjoy the next 12 months and take advantage of all the opportunities that UCL and the Centre for the Forensic Sciences have to offer.

Forensic outreach with Inspire!

By Michaela Regan, on 19 August 2015

In May and June, Sherry, Sally, Nadine and I had the opportunity to provide three forensic outreach sessions to 3-5 year olds at three different schools in Hackney. All of us have had different experiences with outreach but none of us have worked with such a young age group, and we were aware that factors such as their attention spans and their vocabularies would affect how we delivered the sessions. We knew that we needed to make it simple but fun so that the children would stay interested, which is challenging when you are used to explaining your research to a more academic audience.

To start off, we briefly explained the process of investigating a crime (demonstrating the role of witnesses and searching for ‘clues’ to ‘catch the bad guy’) through different activities. We demonstrated the difficulty of being a witness by giving them an image to memorise for a minute and then asking what colours the different objects were. After which, we got them to try and link paw prints to different animals as a way of describing the theory behind footprints. To conclude, we wanted to find a memorable activity to inspire them so we used fluorescent powder to demonstrate the way trace evidence can transfer and persist; putting fluorescent powders on our hands and then shaking theirs. After we shook all their hands we turned off the lights and used a blue light to show them that even though evidence may be invisible to the naked eye, sometimes it can still be located.

UV light on hands

UV light on hands

I feel these activities were very successful with the children and that they were very enthusiastic and sometimes even amazed by them. I also found it thoroughly enjoyable and motivational – it was encouraging to see them so interested in forensic science and I hope that this encourages them to keep learning more about this subject area.

CFS research away day

By Kirstie Buckridge, on 30 July 2015

Our researchers (academics and PhD students) have all spent today in Oxford on an away day focusing on research and collaboration. Among the activities will be a scavenger hunt around Oxford, so teamwork will be critical! We will blog about the day in a couple of weeks, and we are of course hoping that it will result in lots of fruitful research collaboration, so watch this space.

9th International Crime Science Conference

By Kirstie Buckridge, on 16 July 2015

We ran a session at the conference today with talks from Professor David Spiegelhalter (University of Cambridge) and Dr Gill Tully (Forensic Science Regulator). It was well attended and both speakers gave thought-provoking talks on how forensic scientists communicate their findings in court, and how we express uncertainty within legal (and other) contexts. Both were of the opinion that juries should be given probabilities in the form of statements, but that these statements should be standardised and as transparent as possible. Professor Spiegelhalter stressed the importance of expert witnesses being able to not only interpret statistical probabilities (i.e. likelihood ratios) but also be able to communicate them clearly. It was a fascinating session and seemed to generate a lot of discussion among the delegates present.

Summer at the CFS

By Kirstie Buckridge, on 2 July 2015

The last two terms have flown by in a flurry of teaching, examinations (marking!), and research, and our MSc students are now busy working on their own research projects. We are very busy planning events and preparing to relaunch our website for September 2015. Here are a few of the conferences and other events we have coming up:

The 9th International Crime Science Conference at the British Library, London on 16th July 2015

SPARK Festival London (UCL Engineering) at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London on 30th and 31st August 2015

The 7th European Academy of Forensic Sciences Conference in Prague, Czech Republic from 6th to 11th September 2015

We are also looking forward to welcoming our new cohort of MSc Crime & Forensic Science students in September 2015, and will be preparing for their arrival over the next couple of months.