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The Joyce, Lady Waters School of Chemical Sciences

Forensic Science research

The Forensic Science Programme is closely linked with Environmental Science and Research (ESR) who supply the bulk of the NZ Police forensic services. Research work, depending on its exact nature, has therefore been carried out at ESR and at The University of Auckland with co-supervisors from both organisations.

Find more information on the Environmental Science and Research (ESR) website.

The majority of the students situated at the University have been supervised by the School of Chemical Sciences or the School of Biological Sciences. However, where appropriate, projects have been undertaken in other departments such as the Department of Psychology.

Research is currently focused on an MSc programme (one year of research) and a PhD programme (three to four years of research).

Find more information about the Forensic Science MSc programme.

Research areas

Forensic science covers a broad range, from the statistical evaluation of glass evidence to the development of new molecules to aid in the visualisation of fingerprint residues. Some past and possible future research areas are:

  • Field Science
  • Physical Evidence
  • Forensic Biology
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Environmental Forensic Science

Research highlights

Student projects have attracted a range of attention, including:

  • Developments being incorporated into ESR protocols for forensic work (many projects)
  • Publication in international forensic science journals
  • Presentations of results at conferences in Australia and the US
  • Feature articles in the New Zealand Herald (enhancement of luminol specificity, elemental fingerprinting of cannabis, and identification of tyre prints)

Forensic Science publications

The library lists publications by staff and students in the Forensic Science Programme in date sequence, from latest to the earliest date.

See the Forensic Science Programme publications list.

The list is also accessible from Resources by subject for Forensic Science.


Recent theses

The library lists forensic science Masters and Doctoral theses completed by University of Auckland students through the Forensic Science Programme in date sequence, from latest to the earliest date.

See the Forensic Science thesis list.

The list is also accessible from the Resources by subject for Forensic Science page.

Find a list or current PhD research topics in Forensic Science


Research collaborations

Members of the Forensic Science Programme have active collaborations with scientists in other parts of the University, in ESR, in the NZ Police, and in other forensic-related fields.

The New Zealand Police have supported the programme, mainly through their Capability Enhancement Programme with ESR. We maintain a close association with the fingerprints section at the Auckland Police Station.

Visit the New Zealand Police website

Prof Chris Triggs (Statistics) and Assoc Prof James Curran (Statistics) have interests in forensic applications of statistics, and are widely published in this area.

Environmental Science and Research (ESR) members from throughout New Zealand have been involved with proposing projects, direct supervision of MSc students, or assistance with specific aspects of projects.

Visit the ESR website