Thursday 23 June 2016

Locard's Lab

I'm very pleased to have been interviewed by Locard's Lab, as part of their initiative to interview a lot of scientists from all different forensic disciplines and from different stages of their career. My interview can be found here. I think Locard's Lab is doing a sterling job bringing together interesting news about forensic research. Keep it up!

Friday 3 June 2016

Summer's here!

I do get excited in the summer when the decomposition experiments get under way! The sweet (or not so sweet) #scentofdeath heralds the start of summer for me!

This summer, we are using the HuddersFIELD taphonomy facility to do forensic experiments on porcine cadavers. Please be reassured that these pigs have not been killed for the purposes of the research, but died of natural causes. We are putting their bodies to good use as they would otherwise be destroyed. Students of the Forensic Anthropology Research Group at the University of Huddersfield are working alongside and in conjunction with the Buckley Proteomics Lab at the University of Manchester.

We are conducting a variety of research projects, for example, looking at how skin colour changes in different environments - on the surface and submerged in water - to see whether this could affect identification of unknown remains if they are found on land or in water. We are also examining the old adage, or "Casper's Law" (Casper, 1862) that a body submerged in water takes twice as long to decompose as one on the surface, and a buried body takes eight times as long to decompose (all other variables being equal). In addition, we are investigating how the conductivity and micro-organisms in water change with time if a cadaver is submerged, or in soil water if a body is buried. We are also comparing the proteomic decay in buried, submerged and surface deposited cadavers - so we are certainly making the most of the pig cadavers we are using!

These are pictures of some of the pig cadavers we are using. They show how the process of decomposition is progressing after a 2 and 3 week interval.
This is Pig number 1 on the surface on the first day.
This is the same pig, after 14 days.
This is the same pig, after 21 days.

This is Pig 2 submerged, on day 0.
This is the same pig after 14 days.
This is the same pig after 21 days. 

If you have any questions about the research, or you would like to come and visit or enquire about doing collaborative research (affiliated with a university please), then please do get in touch.

Casper, JL (1862) A Handbook of The Practice of Forensic Medicine. The New Sydenham Society, London. [Accessible here].