Dr Agatha Grela

Senior Lecturer in Forensic Chemistry

Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

School:Life Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Forensic science and crime

Research Supervision:Yes

Agatha is an analytical chemist who, having worked in a forensic toxicology lab, has first-hand experience in the analysis of street drugs and various forensic toxicology evidence types. Her research interests lie in the detection of drugs and pharmaceutical compounds from various matrices.

agatha.grela@aru.ac.uk

Background

Agatha is a Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, an Associate Member of the Charted Society of Forensic Sciences and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She holds a PhD in Chemical Sciences from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and has worked in a forensic toxicology laboratory where she analysed toxicology samples and street drugs.

After working as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant from March 2017 to July 2018, on a project looking into drug detection from spiked drink, Agatha returned to ARU in August 2022. Prior to taking up her current post, she taught at the University of West London.

Agatha was part of a research team exploring methods for detecting drug-facilitated sexual assault. Read more about the project, Drug-facilitated sexual assault in Nepal: Enhancing forensic capacity and raising public awareness.

Research interests

  • Drug analysis from various matrices (biological and non-biological)
  • Stability of drugs in different matrices

Areas of research supervision

Currently second supervisor for a PhD student who is looking into the application of chemometrics in the interpretation of the metabolism of diclazepam for forensic purposes.

Teaching

Qualifications

  • PhD in Chemical Sciences, Application of lipidomics in the search of depression biomarkers. Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
  • MSc in Chemistry, specialisation in analytical chemistry. Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Associate Member of the Charted Society of Forensic Sciences
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Scientists hidden from history – a celebration of BAME scientists. Funded by the Biochemical Society (Diversity in Science grants), £500.

Capacity building on forensic toxicology and drugs chemistry in Nepal. Funded by Analytical Chemistry Trust Fund, Collaborator. 25 June - 6 July 2018, £5,000.

Application of lipidomic methods in depression diagnosis – project “Preludium”. Funded by the National Science Centre, Krakow, Poland, Principal Investigator. 2013 – 2016, approx. £27,300. Main funding source for PhD project.

Application of metabolomics and proteomics in the identification of biomarkers for neuropsychiatric disorders and the effects of psychiatric drugs. Funded by the Faculty of Chemistry; Principal Investigator. 2011 – 2012, approx. £1,200.

Selected recent publications

Gautam, L., Grela, A., Satyal, J., 2022. Sexual Assault through a Forensic Lens: Understanding Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault Issues in Nepal. Annapurna Journal of Health Sciences, 2(4). Manuscript accepted.

Gautam, L., Bohara, A., Satyal, J., Grela, A., 2021. Alcohol: Use, abuse and associated impacts on health and crimes. Annapurna Journal of Health Sciences, 1(2), pp. 49–55. doi: 10.52910/ajhs.45

Davies, C., Gautam, L., Grela, A., Morrissey, J., 2020. Variability Associated with Interpreting Drugs within Forensic Hair Analysis. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 40(7), pp. 868-888. doi: 10.1002/jat.3959

Grela, A., Gautam, L., Cole, M. D., 2018. A multifactorial critical appraisal of substances found in Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault cases. Forensic Science International, 292, pp. 50-60. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2018.08.034

Recent presentations and conferences

2022 IABPA European Conference (July 2022, organising committee).

Flow Analysis XV, Faculty of Chemistry, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland (June 2022, oral presentation: Quantification of diclazepam and its metabolites using GC-MS for chemometric purposes).

European Academy of Forensic Science Conference, Stockholm, Sweden (May 2022, oral presentation: Diclazepam metabolite interpretation).

Annual Forensic Science Student Conference, University of West London, London, UK (March 2022, organiser).

Training day for forensic health professionals, University of West London, London, UK (May 2021, invited speaker: Science behind DFSA: Evidence gathering and analysing).

Seven Days FDP on Recent Advancement in Forensic Science and Technology (Crime Scene to Court Room), Amity University, India (March 2021, invited speaker: Science behind DFSA: Evidence gathering and analysing).

Annual Forensic Science Student Conference, University of West London, London, UK (February 2021, organiser).

International Conference by Biotechnology Society of Nepal (February 2021, oral presentation: Knowledge, perception and experience of DFSA among college students – comparison of Nepal and UK data).

International Conference by Biotechnology Society of Nepal (February 2021, scientific steering committee).

Seminar organised by Women’s Law Forum, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada (November 2020, invited speaker: Raising Awareness about Drink Spiking and Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault).

Cambridge Science Festival, Cambridge, UK (March 2020, lecture: Drink Spiking: Myths, Truths and Advances in Forensic Science).

2nd International Caparica Conference in Translational Forensics, Lisbon, Portugal (November 2019, oral presentation; Drugs in drug facilitated sexual assault).

The Festival of Learning and Teaching, University of West London, UK (July 2019, poster: Manuscript jigsaw – how to help students write dissertations).

Workshop on Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault Investigation, Kathmandu, Nepal (2019, oral presentation, co-author: Knowledge, perception and experience on DFSA in Nepal – A survey based study).

The Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal & The Himalaya (2019, oral presentation, co-author: Understanding the nature of sexual assault cases with the focus on Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault in Nepal through a forensic lens).

Annual Forensic Science Student Conference, University of West London, London, UK (2019, invited speaker: Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault: a chemist’s perspective).

Research and Scholarship Day, University of West London, London, UK (2018).

The International Association of Forensic Toxicologist conference, Ghent, Belgium (2018, poster presentation, co-author, Simultaneous Detection of Drugs Associated with Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault Using Gas Chromatography - Mass Spectrometry).

Fifth Annual Conference 2018 Forensics in Action, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK (2018, invited speaker: Sexual Assault and Drugs).

7th Annual Research Conference, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK (2017, oral presentation, co-author: Importance of alternative sample analysis in forensic investigation of drug facilitated sexual assault).

Media experience

Consultancy for documentary, Murder Detective with Graham Hill (episode on Murder of Adrian Murphy), not yet aired.

Consultancy for documentary developed for the Smithsonian Channel (Curious Life and Death of…, episode 2: Brian Jones), aired 13 September 2020.

Co-author, Xanax: how does it work and what are the side effects? The Conversation, 11 April 2018.