Dr. Laurance J Donnelly - Forensic Geologist


Laurance Donnelly is a highly qualified, chartered geologist, with a First Class Honours Degree in Applied Geology (Mining and Mineral exploration) and a PhD in Engineering Geology and Mining Geology. He has about 23 year’s professional experience in mineral exploration, mining geology, mining hazards and engineering geology. Laurance began his career in offshore oil exploration and as an exploration geologist in the quarrying industry, between his BSc and PhD. Following completion of his PhD he was recruited by the British Geological Survey to provide specialist support in mining, mineral exploration, engineering geology, geopyhsics and geohazards. He was subsequently seconded to International Mining Consultants and he then worked for Halcrow before joining Wardell Armstrong, where he currently holds the position of Associate Director (Geologist). For 18 years Laurance has provided expert advice to the Police as a Forensic Geologist and Search Adviser to assist with ground searches and forensic investigations involving high profile crimes and critical cases. This has involved designing, implementing and managing searches for graves and other burials and advising on the geological (trace) evidence. Through this pioneering work, he has made significant contributions to the development of geoforensic search strategic and methodologies for locating graves and other burials. Laurance continues to works closely with the British police and associated government organisations to help implement these techniques and methodologies. He has been working in close collaboration with ‘The Body Farm’ (FBI Facility) in Tennessee, USA, to better understand the impact of human decomposition on geology. In 2002, he was invited to Westminster Palace, Houses of Parliament, to give a presentation on Forensic Geology and the Moors Murders. In 2006, he established the Forensic Geoscience Group, of the Geological Society of London, and he is the current serving Chair. In 2009, he was invited to Colombia as part of a joint UK-US- Colombia team of geologist to provide forensic geology training and advice to the Colombian police, judges, barristers, lawyers and forensic scientists. In 2010, the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) invited him to establish an International Work Group on Forensic Geology and since 2011 has been chair of the IUGS Initiative on Forensic Geology (IFG). He is registered as an Expert Adviser with the National Policing Improvements Agency (NPIA) and works closely with the Home Office, Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST). In addition to forensic geology he also has considerable experience in the provision of technical advice for mining and mineral exploration projects and in the field of engineering geology and geological hazards. Laurance has published over 190 papers and articles and been invited to deliver over 70 guest lectures in the UK and world-wide. He completed geological investigations throughout Europe, Latin America, Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, FSU countries, Asia and Australia. Laurance is the recipient of prestigious international awards from the Geological Society of America, the Geological Society of London and the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy in recognition of distinguished and outstanding contributions to the multi-disciplinary fields of applied geology. (L J Donnelly CV.pdf)


Prof. Lorna Dawson - Forensic soil scientist


Lorna Dawson is a Principal Soil Scientist in Soils, James Hutton Institute, with over 25 year’s experience in managing and conducting research. She is Head of the Soil Forensics Group at the Hutton Institute, is honorary professor in Forensic Science at Robert Gordon University, and is seconded to manage and advise on the Environmental Change programme within the Scottish Government‘s (RESAS) strategic research. Lorna developed the application of soil organo - mineral markers in forensic investigations. She has published widely, and regularly presents at national and international conferences. She is affiliated to Aberdeen and Robert Gordon Universities in Aberdeen, contributing to the Archaeology, Soils, Environment and Forensic Science lecture courses, and an external examiner at Strathclyde University. She has published over 70 refereed journal papers, books and book chapters. She is an editor for journals ISRN Soil Science and Elsevier, Materials Research Bulletin. Lorna was Principal Investigator on a project funded by the EPSRC, developing tools for soil characterization in forensics. This work involved collaboration with various forensic experts in the National Policing Improvement Agency, the Forensic Science Service, and various police laboratories and forces.. She is currently the Lead PI on a FW7 European grant (MiSAFE) developing and testing microbial tools for use in case work. She is treasurer of an international Geoforensics network (IUGS Initiative on Forensic Geology-IFG). She coordinated sessions at the International Crime Science Meetings, London, 2007-2009 and organized major conferences on environmental and criminal soil forensics in 2007 and 2010, and has co-organized major international conferences in 2007 (Edinburgh), 2010 (California) and in 2012 (The Hague).  She has recently co-edited seminal books on Geoforensics (Springer, 2009; The Geological Society, London, 2013), is a trained Expert Witness, is Head of the Institute's Soil Forensic Group, and has worked on over 60 forensic cases in the UK and abroad, as a forensic soil expert. She regularly presents evidence in courts in Scotland, England, Wales and Australia. She is a member of the British Society of Soil Science, a Chartered Soil Scientist, was a council member of the Institute of Professional Soil Scientists (2009-2013) and was a member of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Science in Society panel (2007-2011). She has considerable experience in knowledge exchange, has worked on sabbatical for the BBC, advising on 'Countryfile', ‘Vera’ and 'Silent Witness'. She organised and performed in public debating events, examining the interface between science and fiction, and was awarded best live science communication event, 2009. She was appointed to the General Committee of the British Science Association in 2013 and is Chair of the Scottish Government, RESAS Knowledge Exchange Committee (2012- present) and is a member of the Chief Scientist’s Science and Engineering Community Forum (2014-present). (DAWSON BRIEF CV.pdf)


Dr. Elena Pilli - Forensic Biologist


Elena Pilli graduated in Biological Sciences at the University of Florence with specialization in molecular biology and achieved an MPhil in Forensic Science with highest honors from the University of Parma. Expert in analysis of DNA extracted from any biological material collected at the crime scenes, she carries out analysis of highly degraded samples such as human and animal bones and teeth, human and animal hair. She has been collaborating with the Scientific Investigation Department of Carabinieri Force for ten years. Recently she is also in charge of the identification of the Fallen at the Fosse Ardeatine, the case of Elisa Claps and Melanie Rea in collaboration with the RIS of Rome. Fellow of the Biologists order and member of the Experts and Technical Advisors of the Court of Florence, she is a consultant forensic-genetic at Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Florence, for acknowledgments and disclaimers of paternity: Elena collaborates with public prosecutors, Criminal and Civil Courts, the law firms and Investigative Agencies. As a consultant she has also experience in both criminal and paternity disputes, in educational activities and seminars on forensic genetics. As Temporary Research Fellow at the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Elena is working on a project with title "Peculiarities and problems related to the study of highly degraded DNA and/or ancient: the mechanisms of degradation, and applications of optimization strategies for identifying". Within the same department she is an Adjunct Professor of the Master in Technology and Applications for Scientific Investigations.

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