This blog post has been a long time coming, and I think it truly exemplifies the types of unexpected turns that a PhD – and life in general – can take you. With the new year, many people make resolutions in an effort to improve themselves and to start fresh. In my case, that is exactly what I have done with my PhD – I am excited to announce that I am starting a brand new PhD research project with Dr. Jo Appleby (School of Archaeology & Ancient History) and Professor Jeremy Levesley (Department of Mathematics, and primary supervisor for Etienne, INTREPID #4).
In my first VoR article, I spoke about the first phase of my PhD – namely, the literature review stage. Initially, I was going to use this second instalment to discuss the process of developing research ideas. This is a really exciting time where one can be creative in order to come up with a project that one feels is truly unique and of which they are proud to take ownership. Essentially, this stage is where ideas flourish. Having changed my project to one with a more archaeological/mathematical focus, I am currently in the middle of both the literature review and developing my project idea, so in this sense I am juggling both stages. It is often necessary to revise and refine project ideas as one learns more and more.
As I have a bit of catch-up to do for the past few months, I will focus the rest of this blog post on what I have been up to. Firstly, it was wonderful to attend the International Association for Identification (IAI)’s first European conference back in October. Dr. Dave Charlton was very involved with organizing this conference, and invited the INTREPID students to showcase research posters at this event – Francisco and Silke even gave a joint presentation! It was quite a good conference, and it was nice to chat with various forensic practitioners to get their perspectives and opinions about current practices.
Me with my research poster at the first EU IAI conference in Leicester.
In early November, I also attended the annual Charted Society of Forensic Sciences conference in Manchester. Manchester is a wonderful city and certain parts reminded me of downtown Toronto when I went exploring. The CSoFS conference was, like the EU IAI conference, a nice opportunity for forensic practitioners to gather and network. I also had the privilege to meet up with Professor Martin Evison from Northumbria University and witness the announcement of his new position as President Elect of the CSoFS. Prior to returning to the UK, he was the Director of the Forensic Science Program at the University of Toronto Mississauga. At the time, I was progressing through my undergraduate and held the position of President of the Forensics Society, so I had previously worked with Professor Evison in this capacity. Meeting up with him at this conference was a reminder that the field of forensic science is a small one, even globally, and it was nice to catch up and discuss the differences in forensic science (both in practice and in academia) between the UK and North America.
I even got to practice my trick shot in Manchester! Photo Credit: Francisco
As I enter this new stage as a PhD researcher, it is important to keep a positive attitude and an open mind so that the research ideas continue to flow. Innovation is born through inspiration; in turn, inspiration comes from having ideas and not being afraid to explore them. Acquiring knowledge is an ongoing pursuit – sometimes it requires self-discovery, such as when one is undergoing a literature review to learn about a topic, and sometimes it is essential to learn from others, such as during conferences when it is possible to discuss research with other academics. Regardless, one should strive to learn – from experiences, from lectures, from articles, and from others. No matter what the situation, there is always something to take back from it.