Dr Nick Dawnay from the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences has been awarded a £10K research grant in support of a project looking to develop eDNA methods to support wildlife forensic investigations.
The prestigious award from the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences is given to just one research project each year and the LJMU application impressed the expert panel of reviewers.
One reviewer commented that it was: “An extremely well-constructed proposal which sets out clear aims, objectives, methodology and milestones.” They added: “It will clearly support law enforcement and criminal justice systems both within England, Scotland and other parts of UK, as well as across international criminal justice boarders”.
The research project is entitled ‘Development and application of forensic tools to support police investigations into poaching and habitat destruction of the endangered freshwater pearl mussel in the United Kingdom’.
Dr Dawnay will work alongside LJMU PhD researcher Matt Lewis and colleagues from the University of Highlands and the Islands, Police Scotland and Nature Scot to undertake the study with the aim of helping to protect one of the UK’s most endangered species.
Dr Dawnay said: “Our research proposes to develop a framework for the collection of eDNA samples from rivers to identify the presence of this species in waterways and link their presence to illegal activities.”
He has previously worked with police to apply forensic recovery techniques in other wildlife crimes, working to protect livestock in North Wales from dog attacks.
He added: “As a researcher working within the forensic sciences it is well known that there is a dearth of funding through traditional avenues. The Chartered Society is one of the few places where funding specific for forensic research is available. To be awarded this funding is a huge honour and will make a huge difference to our project.”