The launch of the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER) at the University of Technology Sydney marks a significant milestone for a facility that relies on death, generosity and partnership in equal measure.
A first in the Southern Hemisphere, built through successful Australian Research Council funding, AFTER is a unique body donation facility dedicated to the study of human decomposition and forensic science.
UTS Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Glenn Wightwick recognised the 14 academic, police and forensic agency partners for their engagement in innovative, applied research that enhances the way death investigations are conducted in Australia.
“The world-leading research conducted by AFTER has the potential to revolutionise the way police and forensic authorities approach murders and missing persons cases. This important work – a perfect example of applied forensic science research – can lessen the impact of mass disasters and other unnatural deaths on families and the community.”
UTS Dean of Science Professor Judith Smith welcomed AFTER partners and collaborators University of Wollongong, University of Sydney, ANU, University of Canberra, University of New England, AFP, ANSTO, Victoria Police, NSW Police, NSW Health Pathology, Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Western Sydney University, and Central Queensland University.
Professor Smith said the official launch was an opportunity to acknowledge the vision of these key partner organisations in establishing such an important Australian research facility.
“AFTER represents a multidisciplinary collaboration between academic, police and forensic agencies enabling researchers and practitioners to enhance their understanding of the human decomposition process and assist police and forensic scientists in death investigations,” Professor Smith said.
The AFTER facility is administered by UTS and commenced operation in January 2016. The UTS Centre for Forensic Science and partner organisations are undertaking research ranging from the use of cadaver detection dogs to enhancement of victim identification techniques.
“Everyone involved in AFTER is excited and proud of what has been achieved and the real impacts the research is having on homicide, missing persons and human rights investigations. But we never forget the invaluable contribution of those who donate their bodies to science.”