Forensics Research Puts National Security Under the Microscope


Murdoch University forensic science researchers will help the fight against criminal and national security threats after being awarded almost $200,000 by the Australian Department of Defence.

The grant is part of the National Security Science and Technology Centre’s Safeguarding Australia Technology Challenges program.

Chief Investigator Brendan Chapman, a Senior Lecturer in forensic science at Murdoch, will lead a team that aims to improve the capability of police and security agencies to recover DNA results from crime scenes.

Mr Chapman has been working closely with industry partners in national security for several years and said this was the first competitive research grant to be awarded in the field of forensic science at the University.

“This really establishes Murdoch as not only the leading forensic science teaching institution in WA, but now research too,” he said.

The project will be undertaken in collaboration with Australian defence and forensic agencies responsible for criminal and national security threats.

“There has been a great amount of work across the global forensic science community into improving analysis outcomes using more sensitive equipment and better ways of interpreting results,” Mr Chapman said.

“But because the workflow from crime scene to forensic DNA lab is very linear, if you start with a poor sample, you’re limited in how good your result can be.

“It’s a typical ‘junk in, junk out’ situation and this project is looking to get more DNA into the analysis pipeline so we can better detect criminal and national security threats.”

The project will run over 18 months and enable an Accelerated Research Masters with Training student to gain valuable experience in the cutting-edge techniques used in modern forensic biology laboratories though the Federal government sponsored Research Training Program.

Murdoch University Interim Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation, Professor Peter Davies, said the project was a great example of translational research that has tangible impact.

“Unfortunately, we live in a world where we must be mindful about personal safety and where national security can be threatened,” Professor Davies said.

“This Murdoch University research will have broad impact, in the near-term it will deliver a more efficient process for DNA collection and analysis, but ultimately it will lead to a safer Australia.”


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