For the last two months I have been on a bit of an adventure. Starting off in Australia where Francisco and I visited the Australian Federal Police and their brand new Forensic Science site in Canberra. It was amazing, top spec everything and a building layout that allows for easy collaboration and discussion between experts from all areas of forensic science. We also took in a guest lecture at and were shown around the University of Technology Sydney – which again is very impressive. Their research labs are fantastic with basically an entire floor of the University dedicated to forensic science research. We met many of the PhD students who we would go on to have an absolute ball with on the next leg of our trip…
After nearly three weeks in Australia (where I also took some holiday leave to travel around the Whitsundays and visit friends in Cairns) we headed to Auckland where we met up with Thalassa and Annelies. We were there for the Australia and New Zealand Forensic Science Society Annual Symposium. I had a couple of talks, Francisco had a talk and the four of us each had posters too. It was a great opportunity to get invaluable feedback regarding our work, but also great insight into the current advances in this ever changing and ever challenging area. The conference was brilliantly organised and there were two fantastic social events. By far the best conference I’ve been to, from a professional point of view, but also for fun – it was terrific. After the conference Francisco, Thalassa and I hired a campervan and travelled around New Zealand for 10 days, pretty much stopping wherever we fancied. You can’t travel all that way and not make the most of it….
From New Zealand I flew straight to Los Angeles to conduct some more experiments with Fort Collins Sheriff’s Department as well as the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake in Salt Lake City (I say straight… but actually my flight consisted of me pretty much doing a round the world flight: Christchurch-Sydney-Kuala Lumpur-London-Los Angeles… luckily BA gave me a complimentary upgrade from London to LA which was greatly received!) This again was amazing – the work in Fort Collins was slightly dampened by the damp and freezing weather (literally glorious 20s sunshine every day in Colorado… except for the day of the blasts where we woke up in the morning to drizzle, fog and a temperature hovering around 1 degree!) The blasts in Salt Lake City were conducted in more amiable conditions and produced a phenomenal blast! There was fire so the fire department were on hand to hose it all down (that may sound dramatic – they casually just used fire extinguishers), but this added another dimension to my research that I haven’t been able to test yet – the effect of fire and subsequent extinguishing on fingerprints post-blast. If I manage to get ridge detail after that, it will be quite a feat!
So what next. Probably best if I stick around Leicester for a while in the lab, read books and papers and start writing. That probably is best… but I can think of better: back to the US in December for more work with the FBI, off to Warsaw in January for more work with Martin at the Institute of Physical Chemistry and then off to New Orleans for another conference talk in February. The dull life of a PhD student.