Funding boosts crime fight potential

Flinders University’s contribution to solving crime in South Australia and beyond has been further strengthened with SA Government funding for an expanded forensic science program.

Flinders researchers and teachers will use the $200,000 a year funding to boost forensic science research across the Schools of Biological Sciences and Chemistry, Physics and Earth Sciences, with a particular focus to explore new frontiers in DNA testing.

Forensic science specialist, Professor Hilton Kobus, said the new funding would underpin a further increase in collaboration between Flinders and Forensic Science SA, the Government’s DNA analysis centre.

“The new funding from the State Government will allow Flinders to expand its research work into ‘non-people’ areas of DNA, including the analysis of illicit drugs seizures,” Professor Kobus said.

“Such analysis could lead to a DNA profile of a particular drug sample that might then be linked to other drug seizures and provide new lines of investigation for the police and regulatory agencies,” he said.

“Other emerging areas of analysis include soil sampling where micro-organisms provide the DNA material to develop a profile that could be helpful in a diverse range of situations, from crime scenes to bioremediation of polluted industrial sites. Another developing area is nanotechnology solutions for DNA profiling that could lead to field deployable instruments.

The new State Government funding will establish a Chair in Forensic Science at Flinders to be filled by a professorial level appointment to continue the ground-breaking role of Emeritus Professor Leigh Burgoyne – which included the invention of a DNA sample paper that has changed the way sampling, storage and extraction occurs around the world.

Flinders University’s strength in the forensic science field was underscored in July when Flinders’ graduates and postgraduates dominated the inaugural Forensic Science SA Awards – winning 11 of the available 16 awards and scholarships.

SA Attorney General, Michael Atkinson, said “the Government hopes the investment will lead to the creation of a pool of well-trained forensic scientists and help to tackle the severe local and international skill shortage we find ourselves faced with.”

Flinders Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Chris Marlin, said “the funding which has been announced by the SA Government is both recognition of the reputation which has been built up by Flinders University in the area of forensic science and an important catalyst to further develop forensic science in South Australia, in partnership with Forensic Science SA”.

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