Writtle University College and ARU have merged. Writtle’s full range of college, degree, postgraduate and short courses will still be delivered on the Writtle campus. See our guide to finding Writtle information on this site.

Forensic & Investigative Sciences Research Group

Forensics students

Our research group carries out high-level and world-class research in forensic science and criminal investigation. Members of our group include practitioners, consultants, professionals from the field and current researchers within chemical and biological forensic analysis, evidential scene analysis and interpretation.

Our team has accrued a wealth of knowledge and previous experience in the field which has strengthened both our curriculum and our research profile.

We collaborate with many different investigative organisations including police forces and fire and rescue services, other universities and various forensic analytical services and companies. We have strong relationships with our partners and this allows us to explore, diagnose, understand and develop areas of knowledge to improve the many aspects of forensic and investigative sciences used in court.

This is also reflected in our association and contribution within our subject specialisms as active members, representatives, board and council members, link tutors, editorial board members, peer reviewers, senior fellows, conference committee members and continual professional development and proficiency assessors within various societies and organisations.

The Forensic and Investigative Sciences Research Group is located in ARU's Science Centre, a £45m state-of-the-art teaching and research facility. Included in the centre are dedicated research laboratories with space for more than 50 staff and postgraduate students, providing specialist tissue culture, molecular biology, investigative sciences and microbiology research spaces. The centre incorporates a 300-seat lecture theatre adapted for science teaching and a 200-station biosciences laboratory.

Our Forensic & Investigative Sciences Research Group is split into several research areas which include:

If you’re part of an organisation or forensic science provider who wishes to collaborate or explore possible areas of research our specialisms might support, then please contact our Deputy Head of Department for Research, Dr Nicholas Pugh at [email protected], or a member of the Forensic & Investigative Sciences Research Group.

We offer our Forensic & Investigative Sciences PhD. We've also identified a range of innovative research project opportunities for postgraduate researchers.

Academic staff

  • Georgina Belsham. Geogina’s research focuses on crime scene investigations, forensic anthropology and taphonomy.
  • Prof Michael Cole. Mike’s research interests include analysis of drug chemistry, drug profiling and comparison, and drug toxicity.
  • Dr Leesa Ferguson. Leesa’s research focuses on fingermarks, inks and the forensic analysis of legal highs.
  • Prof Lata Gautam. Lata has more than 24 years of experience in forensic and analytical chemistry, particularly in teaching and research on drugs of abuse analysis from different sample types (including spiked drinks and drug facilitated sexual assault investigation). Lately, she has also been researching on equitable representation and effective participation of diverse social groups in STEM, especially of race and ethnic minorities in the higher education and workplace settings.
  • Dr Agatha Grela. Agatha. is an analytical chemist and her research interests lie in the detection of drugs and pharmaceutical compounds from various matrices.
  • Paul Heselwood. Paul has 20 years of experience in policing. His research looks at evidence based policing, communication within policing and occupational fitness standards, particularly in policing.
  • Rebecca Jones. Rebecca is the course leader and her area of expertise is in crime scene examination, gained as a professional practitioner of almost 15 years with two police forces.
  • Dr Risha Jasmine Nathan. Risha is an analytical chemist with a research interest in Toxicology, analytical chemistry and forensic science.
  • Dr Thomas O'Mahony. Tom is a biological anthropologist with expertise in 3D imaging, developmental anatomy, and palaeoanthropology. His research is interdisciplinary covering multiple aspects of human and animal anatomy with applications in both biomedical and forensic sciences.
  • Dr Samantha Tipper (course leader for Forensic Science). Samantha’s research focuses on human bioarchaeology, osteological techniques and paleopathology, especially spinal pathology and health and disease in ancient Nubia.
  • Dr Pet-Paul Wepeba
  • Dr Nathalie Zahra. Nathalie’s research concerns forensic science and specialises in forensic genetics and fingerprint comparison.
Read more about academic staff.

PhD researchers

  • Oluwayemisi Akande. 'Investigation of fingermark development techniques on eco-friendly plastic bag'. Supervisors: Kyp Georgiou and Lata Gautam.
  • Judith Blundell. 'Identification of the impurities formed by the acid catalysed reaction of cannabidiol (CBD) products into △9 – tetrahydrocannabinol (△9-THC). Supervisors: Lorna Nisbet and Lata Gautam.
  • Christopher Davies. 'Method Development and Validation for the Simultaneous Detection of Designer Benzodiazepines in Human Hair using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry'. Supervisors: Lata Gautam and Jo Morrissey.
  • Richard Harries. 'Identification of recreationally abused anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) amongst gym-goers'. Supervisors: Lorna Nisbet and Lee Smith.
  • Same Ratshonka. 'The chemical impurity profiling of Heroin and the determination of the applicability of statistical methods to the profiling process'. Supervisors: Michael Cole and Lata Gautam.
  • Minakshi Singh. 'Use of genetic markers that for body fluid identification in mixed sample'. Supervisors: Nathalie Zahra and Claire Pike.
  • Yanita Yankova. 'Frontline deployable analytical technology'. Supervisor: Michael Cole.
Read more about phd researchers.

Our research group includes members of:

  • The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences
  • International Society of Forensic Genetics
  • Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Society of Forensic Toxicology
  • Society for Evidence Based Policing
  • UK Association of Fire Investigators
  • International Association of Blood Pattern Analysts
  • Society of Wildlife Forensic Science
  • International Crime Scene Investigators Association
  • Council of Forensic Science Educators
  • London Toxicology Group
  • United Kingdom & Ireland Forensic Toxicologist
  • British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology
  • Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
  • International Association of Forensic Toxicologists
  • Indian Association of Medico-legal Experts
  • British Academy of Forensic Sciences
  • American Academy of Forensic Sciences
  • International Association for Identification
Read more about more about professional bodies and associations.