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Interdisciplinary Approach to Identifying the Transfer and Persistence of Fibres Encountered in Forensic Science

Project Description

Clothing is an integral part of our life, serving a variety of purposes. The most obvious function is to protect an individual from the elements but clothes can also be to reflect the social and the cultural function of the wearer. The constant demand of our society for new fashion designs and to improve comfort encourages the production of new fabrics. To meet this demand new textile merchandises are constantly being produced and shipped all over the world.

The manufacturing of new textiles is sophisticated; globally heterogeneous and constantly evolving. Some of this complexity is driven by the need of some manufacturers to reduce production costs, others to avoid patent infringement, all competing to supply fabrics offering optimal finger-tip touching and skin sensation to the client.

Fibres from fabrics and garments have the tendency to shed and transfer between surfaces and therefore are generally encountered in forensic science. The growing diversity of textiles is particularly challenging for the scientists who have to characterise the describe fibres from a crime scene or from clothing. Furthermore the forensic scientists is called upon to provide an evaluation of the significance of transferred fibres given an alleged activity. Having an understanding of the behaviour of fibres in terms of transfer and persistence is of critical importance.

In this project we seek to investigate the physical and chemical properties of fibres to determine how these affect shedding, the transfer between surfaces and the persistence once transferred and in the environment. This work will be carried out using a range of advanced diffraction, microscopy and spectroscopy methods. The student will be given the opportunity to work closely with law enforcement and forensic science practitioners to understand the research project in a broader context and the challenges faced by the forensic practitioners in the field. The project is in collaboration with clothing and fabric manufacturers and furniture retailers.

We are looking for a motivated, independent, and lateral-thinking, student with an excellent degree in analytical chemistry, physics, or materials science, to join our multi-disciplinary team, working at the forefront of challenges in forensics science. Thinking outside the box and problem solving abilities will be a distinct advantage.

The studentship is based at the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science (LRCFS), University of Dundee. Informal inquiries can be made to Dr Hervé Ménard () and Prof Niamh Nic Daéid ( ).

Funding Notes

UK and EU students will be eligible for full-fee studentships and will be eligible for an annual stipend. Non-UK or 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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