Dr Kirstie Scott

School of Biological and Environmental Sciences

I am a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Bioscience at LJMU with a keen research interest in forensic ecology and environmental trace evidence. My research focuses specifically on diatom analysis within forensic investigations - both as an indicator for drowning in forensic pathology, and as a circumstantial trace evidence indicator following transfer from crime scenes to persons of forensic interest. I frequently work with a range of PhD, MSc, and BSc students to empirically assess different variables affecting the availability and quality of diatom evidence in forensic scenarios, contributing data to inform standards for evidence interpretation in forensic casework. My immediate research priority is in the development of high-throughput molecular protocols for the identification of freshwater diatoms, and other environmental taxa (e.g. bacteria, fungi, microeukaryotes) to support the comparison and exclusion of forensic samples. This is being progressed through a dedicated PhD project (H. Kelman 2022-2025) and is supported via collaboration with University College London and The University of Adelaide. I have analytical experience in other areas of forensic ecology including soil, pollen, and bacterial analysis; my wider interests include wildlife forensics, evidence interpretation, and environmental reconstruction.

I am an independent consultant within forensic diatom analysis for police forces around the UK and am a listed expert with the National Crime Agency. I am available to consult on drowning and trace evidence cases (both current and historic) as the need arises. I deliver conference talks and guest lectures and actively engage with the media in the UK and internationally; I welcome additional future opportunities in respect to this. Prospective PhD candidates are recommended to contact me in the first instance.

I teach on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules for students enrolled on Biology, Forensic Science, and Forensic Anthropology programmes at LJMU including Forensic Bioscience, Trace Evidence Analysis, Forensic Science Research Methods, and Practical Skills in Biology. I am the year tutor for L4 and L5 Biology students.

Degrees

2017, University College London, United Kingdom, PhD, Environmental Forensic Science
2013, University College London, United Kingdom, MRes, Security and Crime Science
2011, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, M.A. (Oxon), Geography

Academic appointments

Teaching Fellow (Forensic Science), University College London, 2016 - 2017

Journal article

Cubbage HR, Macey C, Scott KR. 2023. Macroscopic assessment of environmental trace evidence dynamics in forensic settings Science & Justice, 63 :376-386 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Scott KR, Jones VJ, Cameron NG, Young JM, Morgan RM. 2021. Freshwater diatom persistence on clothing II: Further analysis of species assemblage dynamics over investigative timescales Forensic Science International, 326 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Scott KR, Jones VJ, Cameron NG, Young JM, Morgan RM. 2021. Freshwater diatom persistence on clothing I: A quantitative assessment of trace evidence dynamics over time. Forensic Science International, 325 :110898-110898 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Scott KR, Morgan RM, Cameron NG, Jones VJ. 2018. Freshwater diatom transfer to clothing: Spatial and temporal influences on trace evidence in forensic reconstructions Science and Justice, DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Morgan RM, Scott KR, Ainley J, Bull PA. 2018. Journey history reconstruction from the soils and sediments on footwear: An empirical approach Science and Justice, DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Scott KR, Morgan RM, Jones VJ, Dudley A, Cameron NG, Bull PA. 2017. The Value of an Empirical Approach for the Assessment of Diatoms as Environmental Trace Evidence in Forensic Limnology Archaeological and Environmental Forensic Science, 1 :49-78 DOI Publisher Url

Levin EA, Morgan RM, Scott KR, Jones VJ. 2017. The transfer of diatoms from freshwater to footwear materials: An experimental study assessing transfer, persistence, and extraction methods for forensic reconstruction Science & Justice, DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Scott KR, Morgan RM, Jones VJ, Cameron NG. 2014. The transferability of diatoms to clothing and the methods appropriate for their collection and analysis in forensic geoscience Forensic Science International, 241 :127-137 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Internet publication

Scott KR. 2016. How microscopic algae are helping forensic teams catch criminals

Editorial/letter to the editor

Scott KR, Morgan RM, Jones VJ, Cameron NG. 2015. Reply to A. Dragutinovic, 'A reply to: The transferability of diatoms to clothing and the methods appropriate for their collection and analysis in forensic geoscience Forensic sci. Int. 241 (2014) 127-137' FORENSIC SCIENCE INTERNATIONAL, 247 :E26-E27 DOI Author Url Publisher Url

Conference publication

Morgan R, McCulloch G, Scott K. 2013. Developing the forensic applications of the organic component of sediments 2nd International Conference on Engineering Geophysics,

Other invited event:

Diatom analysis in forensic pathology, Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology, Invited Lecture. 2023

Metagenomics in forensic reconstructions, University College London, Guest lecture. 2022

Forensic biology: an insight, University of Illinois Chicago, Invited lecture. 2020

Diatom analysis as a tool for crime reconstruction in freshwater forensic contexts, University of Adelaide Environment Institute, Invited lecture. 2019

Forensic ecology - the case for diatom analysis, Staffordshire University, Invited lecture. 2019

Environmental forensics - research and casework, University of Huddersfield, Invited lecture. 2019

Forensic geoscience in aquatic environments, University College London, Invited lecture. 2018

Forensic palynology, University College London, Invited lecture. 2018

Aquatic forensic geoscience, University College London, Invited lecture. 2017

Environmental forensic science, University of Portsmouth, Invited lecture. 2017

Environmental forensic science: The case for diatom analysis, University of Central Lancashire, Invited lecture. 2017

Diatoms as environmental indicators in forensic science, UCL Environmental Change Research Centre, Invited lecture. 2016

Biological analyses of soils, sediments, and earth surface materials in forensic geoscience., The University of Oxford Centre for the Environment, Invited lecture. 2016

Media Coverage:

Applied Microbiology International - Edie uncovers how microbes can shine light on dirt bike vandalism 2023

BBC - Body on the Beach: What Happened to Annie? 2023

IFLScience - Dead Bodies Can Reveal Details Of Their Death Through Microscopic Diatoms 2023

Plant Crimes - Death by Drowning 2021

How microscopic algae are helping forensic teams catch criminals 2016

Conference presentation:

Massively Parallel Sequencing (MPS) as a novel tool to support forensic diatom analysis, European Network Forensic Science Institutes - Animal, Plant, Soil Traces Working Group, Zurich, Switzerland, Oral presentation. 2023

Massively Parallel Sequencing (MPS) of diatom and bacterial DNA: a new approach for freshwater trace evidence analysis, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Oral presentation. 2021

Diatom DNA: development of a novel MPS protocol for trace evidence analysis, 22nd Triennial Meeting of the International Association of Forensic Sciences, Oral presentation. 2020

Integrating microscopy with multiple molecular markers to enhance the exclusionary analysis of freshwater forensic samples, 22nd Triennial Meeting of the International Association of Forensic Sciences, Oral presentation. 2020

The recovery of diatom traces from external human tissues – implications for forensic taphonomy in freshwater environments, 22nd Triennial Meeting of the International Association of Forensic Sciences, Oral presentation. 2020

Aquatic ecology in forensic science and crime reconstruction, Forensic Archaeology, Anthropology, & Ecology Symposium, London, UK, Oral presentation. 2017

A multidisciplinary approach to the collection and analysis of aquatic trace evidence from clothing exhibits, International Symposium of the Australia and New Zealand Forensic Science Society, Auckland, New Zealand, Oral presentation. 2016

Examining the temporal variation of diatoms as trace evidence indicators: implications for forensic ecology., International Symposium of the Australia and New Zealand Forensic Science Society, Auckland, New Zealand, Oral presentation. 2016

Recommendations for the forensic investigation of freshwater crime scene environments., International Symposium of the Australia and New Zealand Forensic Science Society, Auckland, New Zealand, Oral presentation. 2016

The transfer and persistence of diatom particulates on clothing: forensic implications for the analysis of aquatic trace evidence, 7th European Academy of Forensic Science conference, Prague, Czech Republilc, Oral presentation. 2015

Developing the techniques available for the collection and analysis of forensic trace evidence in freshwater crime scene environments, National Institute of Justice Impression Pattern and Trace Evidence Symposium, San Antonio, Texas, US, Oral presentation. 2015

The use of optical techniques for the analysis of diatom traces in forensic investigation, Inter/Micro conference, McCrone Research Institute, Chicago, Illinois, Oral presentation. 2015

The forensic implications of diatom seasonality: directing a new technique for the ecological assessment of trace evidence in forensic geoscience., Forensic Geoscience: Future Horizons, The Geological Society, London, UK, Oral presentation. 2014

Forensic applications of diatom analysis: a ‘new’ technique for the assessment of environmental trace evidence., The changing face and pace of trace evidence: The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences Annual Autumn Conference, Leicester, UK, Oral presentation. 2014

Forensic implications of diatom seasonality: the transfer and persistence of diatom particulates on clothing, British Diatom Meeting, Hay-on-Wye, Wales, Oral presentation. 2014

The application of diatom analysis in forensic geoscience: developing a new technique for the comparative assessment of trace evidence., International Symposium of the Australia and New Zealand Forensic Science Society, Adelaide, Australia, Oral presentation. 2014

Diatoms in forensic geoscience: an investigation into the transfer and collection of aquatic and terrestrial diatoms from clothing for use in forensic investigation., British Diatom Meeting, The Lake District, UK, Oral presentation. 2013

Other Professional Activity:

PhD Secondary Supervisor: Development and application of forensic tools to support the conservation of endangered freshwater pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera) in the United Kingdom. Researcher: Matthew Lewis. 2023

PhD Principal Supervisor: The development of Massively Parallel Sequencing (MPS) approaches for the identification, comparison, and exclusion of bioenvironmental trace indicators in forensic investigations. Researcher: Harry Kelman. 2022

PhD Secondary Supervisor: An Investigation into Soil Diatom Communities and Their Potential Contribution as Trace Evidence Indicators in Forensic Science Reconstructions. Researcher: Sean Keeley (Wrexham Glyndwr University). 2021

PhD Secondary Supervisor: Natural Samplers for Marine Environmental DNA Monitoring. Researcher: Alice Cunnington. 2020

Research Grants Awarded:

LJMU Biological & Environmental Sciences Research Capability Fund, Exploring soil microbial diversity with changing land use in urban wildlife garden environments., Grant value (£): 3,987, Duration of research project: 3 months. 2022

Liverpool John Moores University: Faculty of Science ECR PhD Studentship, Development of Massively Parallel Sequencing (MPS) Approaches for the Identification, Comparison, and Exclusion of Bioenvironmental Trace Indicators in Forensic Investigations, Grant value (£): 51,327, Duration of research project: 3 years. 2022

LJMU Early Career Researcher development seed corn funding, Next-generation sequencing: developing a new tool for diatom analysis in forensic ecology., Grant value (£): 9,998. 2019

LJMU Early Career Researcher Collaborative Fellowship funding, Protocols for freshwater DNA analysis to support the comparison and exclusion of forensic trace evidence samples., University of Adelaide, Flinders University, Grant value (£): 6,003. 2018

Industrial connections:

National Crime Agency - National Injuries Database, Expert Witness. 2021

Police Scotland, Independent consultant. 2019

Teaching qualification:

Fellow (Higher Education Academy). 2019

Editorial boards:

Forensic Science International: Synergy, Editorial Board, https://www.journals.elsevier.com/forensic-science-international-synergy. 2018

Conference organisation:

Forensic Geoscience: Future Horizons, Organising Committee. 2014

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