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Creation of an Ontology of Terms for Forensic Science Data


Project Description

Forensic Science is not a single discipline. It is the application of several disciplines to physical or digital evidence for use in court. The data generated for forensic use is made of many different types like: images of fingermarks, instrumental data (like spectroscopic data), or digital data taken from seized equipment. In addition, a piece of evidence can produce several outputs. For example, a fingermark will have an image associated with it and may also have had a DNA profile extracted from it. 
 
In terms of managing, cataloguing and describing forensic evidential data there is no consistent or comprehensive vocabulary currenty used. For example, how does a fingermark on a weapon relate to a DNA profile or any ballistics information collected from the weapon? Is the evidence type a pattern, an absolute measure or an interpretation or something else? 
 
Scientific examinations of crime scenes are relevant to the investigative phase of case – when the perpetrator(s) of the crime are sought – as well as the evidential phase where the science needs to be prepared for presentation in court. The two phases are complementary and fulfil different needs at the time. Capturing and describing these different nuances would be a great benefit.
 
There is a growing need to find a way to categorise data generated from scientific examinations in such a way that each type of data interrelates either through the evidence it pertains to or the methods used to generate or analyse it. This can be achieved with a controlled vocabulary of terms which have known relationships allowing all forensic evidence to fit within it: an ontology of terms for forensic science data!
 
For this project we are looking for a dynamic student with a thorough work ethic and strong attention to detail willing to work with people from a variety of disciplines. Your background could be in a physical science or computer science or in law or linguistics, and requires an interest in data capture. Practical experience of forensic science would be a strong advantage. 
  
Interested candidates should apply by sending a cover letter and CV/Resumé to Dr Christian Cole () and Prof. Niamh Nic Daéid ().

Funding Notes

The studentship is based at the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science (LRCFS), University of Dundee. Informal inquiries can be made to Dr Christian Cole () and Prof. Niamh Nic Daéid ().
UK and EU students will be eligible for a full-fee studentship and will be eligible for a tax-free stipend of £15,009 per annum. Non-UK or non-EU students may be admitted to the programme but will be required to pay full overseas fees and costs if accepted.

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