Our speaker- Dr. Meakin, started by giving us her background and credetials…. She is a research fellow in Crime and Forensic Science at the UCL JDI Centre for the Forensic Sciences. With a PhD and employment background in molecular genetics, Dr Meakin completed an MSc in Forensic and Analytical Science at the University of Huddersfield, including a placement conducting forensic DNA research at the Forensic Science Service Ltd.
Later, she went on to practice as a Forensic Scientist at The Forensic Institute in Glasgow, during which time, she was involved in over 100 cases throughout the UK and in New York, mostly centred around the interpretation and evaluation of DNA evidence.
Dr Meakin has also provided written and oral evidence and has attended courts in all jurisdictions of the UK as an Expert Witness or a Consulting Expert. Her research therefore is focussed on the transfer and persistence of DNA and other trace evidence. She is particularly interested in the indirect transfer of DNA and how this affects the evaluation of trace DNA in casework. She is developing international collaborations to raise the profile of this important area of research.
This talk that she was giving at Edgehill University on Feb 5th, 2014 was an overview of the use of DNA profiling in criminal investigations and she illustrated, using case examples and empirical data, the need for research into the interpretation of trace DNA evidence to ensure that only robust evidence is relied upon.
she said that in recent years, it has become possible to recover DNA that cannot be attributed to an identifiable body fluid. This means that it is unknown whether such DNA, known as ‘trace DNA’, came from skin cells, saliva, blood or any other biological source. Without knowledge of the biological source of the DNA, it becomes increasingly difficult to evaluate how the DNA got to be on the surface in question. Research has shown that trace DNA can come to be present on a surface either directly or indirectly. Direct transfer of DNA can occur from physical contact or from activities within the vicinity of the surface,ie coughing or sneezing. Indirect transfer can occur when DNA from an individual comes to be on an item via an intermediary surface, such as via another person’s hand or a door handle.
Some of her research and Publications are listed below:-
Meakin, G. & Jamieson, A. (2013). DNA Transfer: Review and implications for casework. Forensic Sci. Int.: Genetics. 7: 434-443.
Jamieson, A., Bader, S., Meakin, G. & Mullen, C. (2011). Two-, three-, and four-person mixtures in forensic casework: difficulties and questions. Croat. Med. J. 52: 653-656.
Meakin, G. & Mullen, C. (2011). Chapter 13: DNA Profiling. In Identification: Investigation, Trial and Scientific Evidence, Bogan, P. & Roberts, A., 2nd edition.
Jamieson, A. & Meakin, G. (2010). “Experience is the name that everyone gives to their mistakes”. The Barrister Magazine.