One Professor’s Efforts in Forensic Science

According to an article recently completed by the FT Magazine, the efforts of Professor Sue Black and her team at the University of Dundee are revolutionary to the field of forensic science. Black serves as the director of the University of Dundee Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, otherwise known as the Cahid. The center and its department handles some of the United Kingdom’s most cutting edge research on forensics and anatomy. The center fulfills many duties, from working on murder cases, to teaching new police officers in mass victim identification to helping break up Scotland’s biggest pedophile ring in 2009.


Black took over as director of the Cahid in 2003. Since then, she has turned the center into a competitive unit of colleagues, going so far as to win the Queen’s Anniversary Prize this year. Within a few years of running the department, Black found a pressing need for a new and improved mortuary. She asked the university to fulfill her request, and they agreed, on the stipulation that Black herself would find a way to raise one million pounds for the project. At this juncture, the fictionalization of her career that can serve as an inaccurate and frustration portrayal of the job she holds so dear paid off to her benefit, as she was able to find many who supported her ambitions for a new mortuary monetarily, merely by being vocal in her pursuits.

There have been other benefits to her very loud requests for funding for her mortuary. In 2003, the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification would receive approximately thirty to thirty five cadavers a year for embalming and practices for doctors. Alternatively, this year they have received seventy-five, as more individuals approach them and ask to donate their remains in the name of science.

The profiler also observed that the majority of those employed under Director Black were women. This was not necessarily surprising, as some preliminary research indicated that seven out of nine of the United Kingdom’s highest certified forensic practitioners are women. Therefore, it only makes sense that this statistic would apply to lower researchers as well. In addition, of those in attendance of the University of Dundee studying forensic anthropology, ninety percent of them are women. Most notably among Black’s colleagues is Dr. Helen Meadows, a postdoctoral research assistant. She has become noteworthy in her own right, based on her focus on the human hand and the answers it can afford in cases. According to Meadows, scars, pigmentation, fingernails and vein patterns can build a body of evidence all on their own.



from Luisa Florez Medical Examiner


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