Dr Claire Gwinnett

Professor (Tef)

School of Law, Policing and Forensics

I am a Professor in Forensic and Environmental Science at Staffordshire University.

I have led national and international projects, conducted research in the recovery, analysis and interpretation of polymers, particularly fibres for the forensic industry since 2004, where I initiated my fibres work in the development of proficiency testing schemes for the creation of large-scale synthetic fibre databases as part of my PhD.

Since then, I have worked on improving methods of fibre (and now microplastic analysis) with international organisations, which has impacted industry, the public sector, academia and policy makers.

My research has led to changes used in the recovery and analysis of these polymers for the Criminal Justice System, including improved contamination prevention protocols and methods to automate the characterisation and identification of fibres.

I now work in applying forensic science approaches to microplastics to improve characterisation and better understanding of their source and prevalence. I am the Research lead for the Forensic Fibre and Microplastic Research Group at Staffordshire University which aims to use a multidisciplinary approach to improve the analysis and interpretation of particulates for both environmental and forensic work. The research and knowledge exchange for this group can be categorised into three important and topical areas, all of which have shown to impact industry, the public sector, academia and policy makers. These three areas are forensic trace evidence research, quality assurance in the criminal justice system and microplastic pollution research. 



Professional memberships and activities

  • Staffordshire University Lead for Staffordshire Trent Valley Catchment Partnership, 2018-ongoing.

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 2007 - ongoing

  • Professional Member of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences 2012 – ongoing

  • Council Member of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences between 2014 – 2017

  • Member of the Chartered Society of Forensic Science’s Standards Committee and Chair of CPD/CPC Committee for the Chartered Society of Forensic Science (2014-2017)

  • Member of UK Forensic Fibres Forum 2015-ongoing

  • Member of UK Microplastics Network, 2017-ongoing

  • Evidence Practice and Development Group, Staffs Police 2017-2018

Academic qualifications

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Higher and Professional Education, Staffordshire University,
  • Doctorate of Philosophy, Staffordshire University, Thesis entitled; “The Use of Inexperienced Personnel in the Production of a Synthetic Fibres Database”
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods, Staffordshire University,
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher and Professional Education, Staffordshire University,
  • BSc (Hons) Forensic Science

Expertise

  • Forensic fibres analysis; Microscopy, IR spectroscopy, transfer and persistence, textile damage

  • Microplastics and plastic pollution; standardisation of methods, forensic approaches, contamination prevention, interpretation and degradation studies in marine, freshwater and terrestrial systems.

  • Forensic hair analysis; microscopy, interpretation, wildlife crime

  • Forensic glass analysis; RI determination, fracture analysis, transfer and persistence

  • Forensic paint analysis; microscopy

  • Other trace evidence including pollen and polishes

  • Trace evidence use in wildlife crime investigation

  • Forensic garment examination and textile damage

  • Forensic database production

  • Proficiency testing, validation studies, ISO accreditation and quality control

  • Forensic science pedagogy, including the use of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) in competency testing, e-learning resources and international forensic science delivery

Research interests

I have been designing, implementing and managing projects in the forensic science practice and teaching for nearly 7 years. During this time, I have not only supervised smaller projects executed by undergraduate and postgraduate students but I have also managed large funded national and international projects which involve the employment of research teams. Research has been centred on forensic practice and interpretation, particularly in the areas of trace evidence, proficiency testing and forensic pedagogy.

Funded Research Projects

PhD Project (Staffordshire University Funded) entitled “The Use of Inexperienced Personnel in the Production of a Synthetic Fibres Database”

Enhanced Learning and Teaching Project Fund (£5000)– ‘A Study into the
Use of Proficiency Testing in Forensic Science Courses in Higher Education to create a
National Trace Evidence Database.’

Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) 3 project (£5930) - “Systems for the Improvement of the Cost Effectiveness of Police Scientific Support‘

Proof of Concept fund (£36000)– ‘The Development of a Novel Forensic Fibres Analysis System’, Currently undergoing patenting.

Higher Education Innovation Fund 4 (£5000) - “Feasibility study into the production of intelligent software for law firms”

Higher Education Innovation Fund 4 round 2 (£27000) –‘The Development of a online CPD Resource in Forensic Science (including digital) for Law Firms’

Higher Education Academy Development fund (£1500)– ‘The Development of a Pedagogic ‘Toolkit’ for the Design of MCQs in Forensic Science teaching and the Use of MCQs in the Testing of Forensic Practitioner Competency’

Research Informed Teaching Fund (£3000) - Development of a Proficiency testing Scheme for Grading Fingerprint Quality for Fingerprint Researchers. Project carried out in conjunction with The Home Office’s Centre for Applied Science and Technology, formally known as HOSDB.

Other projects include;
Development of a Forensic undersuit to reduce DNA and trace evidence (hairs and fibres) contamination at crime scenes and to enhance Personal Protective Equipment comfort.

Development of a Barefoot Print Database in collaboration with Sheffield Forensic Podiatry Unit

Teaching

Undergraduate

  • Fibres analysis

  • Glass analysis

  • Hair analysis (animal and human)

  • Paint analysis

  • ISO accreditation and competency testing in forensic science

  • Forensic Biology and DNA Profiling

  • Other trace evidence, including filaments, pollen, lubricants

  • Evidence analysis including FTIR, Raman, Pyr-GC, polarized light microscopy, comparison microscopy, hot-stage microscopy

  • Statistical analysis of evidence

  • Research Skills

  • Independent projects

Postgraduate

  • Glass analysis

  • Paint analysis

  • Hair analysis (animal and human)

  • Wildlife crime investigation

  • Underwater crime scene investigation

  • Crime scene investigation for forensic nurses

  • Forensic Biology and DNA profiling

  • Statistical analysis of evidence

  • Expert Witness testimony

  • Independent projects

Top 250 Young University

Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2020

Top 15 for Teaching Quality

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021

Top 15 for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021

Midlands University of the Year

Midlands Business Awards 2020