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Centre for the Forensic Sciences Blog



CFS Seminar Series – Giorgio Blom (Staffordshire University)

By uctzreg, on 15 March 2016

Last Thursday, we had the pleasure of welcoming Mr. Giorgio Blom to our CFS seminar series. He gave us a fascinating talk on his PhD project which is looking at the use of analytical techniques for the discrimination of decomposition products (e.g. putrescine, cadaverine, and methylamine) originating from a buried corpse. Giorgio has been looking at using these different techniques to narrow down the search area when looking for missing people.

Giorgio introducing his topic

Giorgio introducing his topic

Currently, the police use victim recovery dogs or geophysical instruments such as ground penetrating radar to locate possible clandestine graves. The problem is that when you have a large surface area, it’s very difficult to thoroughly search the whole area using these techniques. This is where Giorgio’s research comes into effect.

During his project, he focused on the following instruments to detect these decomposition products:

  • GC-MS (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry);
  • Ion chromatography;
  • HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography);
  • LC-MS (liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry).
  • Even though these instruments are still in the research stage, they’re showing great potential for the detection of decomposition products. Before finishing his talk, he gave two examples of locations where he tested these instruments: in both an aquatic and terrestrial environment, in order to determine their suitability for casework. Overall, his research was very impressive and I really enjoyed his talk!


    CFS Seminar Series – Mike Ferguson (CAST)

    By uctzmaa, on 29 February 2016

    Last Thursday we were grateful to be able to welcome Mike Ferguson from The Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST), a core part of the Home Office, to come and talk to us. Over a captivating hour, Mike shared with us his case experience and the uses of different search equipment for:

  • counter-terrorism;
  • ground recovery;
  • and marine recovery.
  • 12789935_10153326687325825_1912565782_o

    Mike Ferguson explaining the marine diver hand held sonar.

    He also brought along a variety of search equipment including: ground penetrating radar, a marine diver hand held sonar and a drone.


    Drone used for surveying.

    Mike demonstrated some of this equipment and explained how it is used and the information you can obtain. This provided students with an insight on how search and recovery equipment is utilised in the field to aid in investigations. He finished his presentation with a talk about the different subdivisions of CAST and the research being conducted if any students were interested in getting involved with the work the Home Office does. Following the discussion, the students then had a chance to try out some of the equipment for themselves over drinks and snacks.