UTSpeaks: Naming the Dead

Will research on decomposing human bodies relieve the suffering of millions?
Photo courtesy of  Alisha Vargas - Flickr

Photo courtesy of Alisha Vargas - Flickr

28 May 2015
6:00 PM

The Great Hall

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It may be the worst fate anyone could endure – a child or parent, a sibling or partner or good friend who never comes home.  Daily, millions worldwide lose loved ones to disasters, to violent hands or inexplicable disappearance. In some cases the anguish of those left behind ends in reunion and relief.  But too often there may be no news, or worse, a family’s greatest fears are irrevocably confirmed.

This fascinating public lecture features world-leading forensic scientists conducting new research to help bring certainty and closure to countless people who have lost the ones they love.  By learning how our bodies decay in a wide range of settings, vital knowledge is being gained to more easily identify the dead, solve crimes, catch killers and help put the minds of those who are grieving at rest.

Professor Shari Forbes
On gaining a PhD in forensic chemistry at UTS, Shari Forbes spent two years at the Centre for Forensic Science in Western Australia and then seven as founding director of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s forensic science program. She also held a Canada Research Chair in decomposition chemistry.  In 2012 Shari returned to UTS’s Centre for Forensic Science as professor and ARC Future Fellow. Her research, carried out in diverse environmental settings throughout Australia, Canada and the USA, investigates chemical processes occurring in soft tissue decomposition to estimate time since death. Her research assists police canine units train cadaver-detection dogs deployed to forensic and mass disaster investigations. Shari collaborates closely with state and federal police and fire and rescue services. Her ground-breaking research has been awarded here and overseas.

Dr Xanthé Mallett
Based at the University of New England, British-born Xanthé Mallett collaborates in research with the UTS Centre for Forensic Science. Over her career she has researched behavior patterns of pedophiles and use of the Internet for orchestrating child sexual abuse. She has collaborated with the FBI in the field of facial recognition and as a forensic anthropologist, has performed casework and research, including work leading to pedophile prosecutions. Xanthe has been active in educational outreach, engaging young people with the sciences and encouraging their pursuit of careers in science. She has co-presented a number of BBC and National Geographic Channel documentaries in forensics and archeology and remains a regular expert voice on radio and television, and crime-based series in Australia including ‘Wanted’ on Channel Ten. She is widely published in academic journals, books and popular media.

UTSpeaks is a free public lecture series presented by UTS experts discussing a range of important issues confronting contemporary Australia.

Video and audio recordings from past UTSpeaks lectures and fora are available for download.

6.00pm drinks and canapés for 6.30pm start, concludes 8.30pm
27 May 2015
Health and Science