Safeguarding society

Photo of Dr Mark Barash, Dr Xanthe Spindler, Professor Claude Roux, Dr Sebastian Moret, and Dr Maiken Ueland

Pictured (From left to right): Dr Mark Barash, Dr Xanthe Spindler, Professor Claude Roux, Dr Sebastian Moret, and Dr Maiken Ueland.

The Bulgin Fund is helping the UTS Centre for Forensic Science advance criminal investigation techniques, deliver exceptional outcomes, and solve cold cases.

The term ‘forensic science’ often evokes murder investigation scenarios popularised by television dramas. But according to the director of UTS’s Centre for Forensic Science, Professor Claude Roux, it has broader implications that encompass public health: “The science to understand how we could better prevent security concerns and crime.”

“Without funding, we wouldn’t have the means to organise realistic, practical tutorials, or even do the research in the first place.” - Professor Claude Roux

Professor Roux and his team study traces – remnants of identity and activity from DNA and fingermarks that can be found on card transactions or surveillance camera footage. Traces help reconstruct events and identify people in homicide cases and civil incidents. In turn, the analysis of forensic data aids the emerging field of crime disruption.

“It’s difficult to attract systemic funding in forensic science,” says Roux. Nevertheless, a donation from the estate of Peter John Bulgin provides the centre with the human resources and materials to deliver a rich, practical study experience for students, and enables visionary research that will have a significant future impact on law enforcement.

Imagine being able to deduce a person’s facial characteristics from a DNA sample. That’s what post doctoral research fellow Dr Mark Barash is exploring – a process that could identify disaster victims ormissing persons. The Bulgin Fund helped with the purchase of essential software and chemicals for their lab work.

It employed forensic science lecturer Dr Sebastien Moret to study nanoparticles for developing next-generation fingermark detection techniques. Senior Lecturer Dr Xanthe Spindler’s student was funded to complete a PhD on new methods to simultaneously detect DNA and fingermarks, which significantly reduces lab work.

The fund also contributed to the UTS AFTER facility, where forensic taphonomist Dr Maiken Ueland studies decomposition. Her biomarker findings can increase accuracy in determining a subject’s time of death, and whether the body has been moved from another location.

Over a decade, Professor Roux has seen the centre grow from one undergraduate forensic science program to become a world research leader in the field with exceptional courses available to students. “Without funding, we wouldn’t have the means to organise realistic, practical tutorials, or even do the research in the first place. The Bulgin Fund is absolutely pivotal for UTS.”