Tuesday 13 March 2012

Washing up

Now, I don't usually bring my work home with me, or at least I try not to; mainly because it is not very popular with Him Indoors. However, this week, I have had to, largely because of silly Health and Safety rules at work. I'll explain. I am currently preparing for my module next week, which is Forensic Craniofacial Identification. This is a great module, of which the highlight is that the students get to try their very own facial reconstruction. This section of the course is taught by the very able and lovely Teri Blythe. Now, for the students to do this, they need a skull to reconstruct, obviously. We don't want them to use real ones, for (I hope) obvious reasons, so we buy these from France Casts, which is great. However, we cannot afford to buy new ones each year, so, inevitably, we have to clean them up each year, ready for the next lot of students. When I say 'we', I really mean 'I'. This is unless I can bribe an eager student into helping me - as I managed to do this year - but unfortunately not with a bribe of any real value at all - just major Brownie points!

So, "How do you get layers of plasticine off plastic skulls?" I hear you ask. Well, with difficulty, that's how! Suffice to say that it involves a LOT of white spirit, which, when I last checked, was not stocked in the stationery cupboard at work.

So, this was our draining board last night...  Ho hum.

Friday 9 March 2012

Mass Fatality Incidents

This week, I have been teaching on the Mass Fatality Incidents module at Cranfield. This is my favourite module, as the concepts raised in the module tend to stimulate a lot of debate amongst the students or delegates, and challenge their preconceived ideas. The course introduces students to the standard Interpol forms for Disaster Victim Identification, and gives them practical experience of collecting ante-mortem and post-mortem data, but it also opens their eyes to the humanitarian side of disaster management, and dealing with the living - survivors or bereaved relatives and friends. The module is truely holistic in its approach, which is rare in courses for forensic practitioners. I was delighted to receive feedback from the students declaring that it has made them want to become DVI practitioners in the future, and that they want to study disaster management in more depth now. If you are interested, you can find out more about the course on the Cranfield webpages. You may also be interested in joining the Institute for Civil Protection and Emergency Management, and attending their conference in April.
Many thanks to the students and delegates for a tiring, but really rewarding week!

Friday 2 March 2012

Secrets of Everything

Last year, I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute to a BBC3 programme called 'Ask A Stupid Question'. In it, TV presenter and general science junkie Greg Foot was attempting to answer weird and wonderful science questions sent in by viewers. For example, he did some experiments to answer 'what do humans taste of?' or 'if everyone in the world jumped at the same time, what would happen?' and other such corkers. I helped him answer the question 'how long would it take my body to decompose?', with the help of a friendly pig and the Forensic Fieldwork Facility. Anyway...now it is going to be on TV. It is a series of six (I believe) episodes, retitled 'Secrets of Everything', and the first episode will be broadcast this Sunday, the 4th March at 20.00 on BBC3. I'm not sure which episode will actually feature me and the pig, so I guess you'd better watch them all! Also, I'm afraid it clashes with Top Gear, but you've got to get your priorities right...