Forensic Analysis

fire debris at crime scene

The Forensic Analysis research area explores the chemical and biological analytical aspects of forensic science including evidence recovery methods, extraction of analytes from difficult and unusual matrices and the development and improvement of analytical methods for forensic samples.

This includes chemical analysis research on drug analysis, analysis of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), drug facilitated sexual assault, fire investigation, fire debris recovery and analysis of ignitable liquid residues, analysis of drugs and pharmaceuticals in the environment, analysis of pharmaceuticals in unusual matrices for wildlife conservation, analysis of drugs in unusual matrices in relation to forensic toxicology, work placed drug testing, analytical methods for diagnostic tools and biomarkers, forensic toxicology, method development and validation, detection and quantification of cocaine on new polymer banknotes, ageing of fingermarks and detection of body fluids under paint using vibrational spectroscopy techniques.

The biological analysis research includes body fluid identification using RNA analysis, body fluid identification using DNA methylation, DNA and RNA analysis from fingermarks treated with VMD and other fingermark enhancement methods, analysis of DNA and RNA from biological fluids and trace evidence.

The Forensic Analysis research area is part of the Forensic & Investigative Sciences Research Group.

We offer our Forensic & Investigative Sciences PhD. We've also identified a range of innovative research project opportunities for postgraduate researchers.


Find out more about our members by exploring their staff profiles.


Research and outreach activities in Nepal

Dr Lorna Nisbet to be published in ‘forensic toxicology bible’

Funding awarded to Forensic Science

Listen to Dr Lorna Nisbet talk about 'Criminal Chemistry: What's Your Poison?' on a recent podcast from The Naked Scientists.

A recent publication by Dr Lorna Nisbet has been cited in the United Chemical Technologies BlogNisbet L.A., Venson R., Wylie F.M. and Scott K.S., 2017. Application of a Urine and Hair Validated LC-MS-MS Method to Determine the Effect of Hair Color on the Incorporation of 25B-NBOMe, 25C-NBOMe and 25I-NBOMe into Hair in the Rat. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, Jul 1;41(6), pp.559-565.

Dr Lorna Nisbet presented her research on 'New Psychoactive Substances' at the 5th Joint SOFT/TIAFT 2017 meeting in Boca Raton, Florida, USA.

Conferences and presentations

Gautam, L., 'Unique challenge: Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault'. 16th Bigyan Chautari organised by Annapurna Research Centre, Nepal, 2018.

Gautam, L. and Pathak, R., 'Usefulness of hair analysis in Forensic Science'. 20th International Hair Science Symposium - HairS’ 17, Dresden, Germany, 7 September 2017.

Nisbet, L., 'Stability of Synthetic Cathinones in Biological and Non-Biological Matrices'. Oral presentation. Eastern Analytical Symposium, November 2016.

Gautam, L., 'Detection of drugs of abuse and pharmaceutical compounds from alternative matrices'. First Forensic Science Conference, Kingston University, UK, 3 April 2017

Nisbet, L., 'Combating Novel Psychoactive Substances - an analytical viewpoint'. Oral presentation. Chartered Society of Forensic Science conference, June 2017.

Nisbet, L., 'Optimising existing techniques to enhance the detection of new psychoactive substances in biological matrices'. Oral presentation. 4th Advances in Forensics & Toxicology eSeminar, November 2017.

Gautam, L., 'Importance of alternative sample analysis in forensic investigation of Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault'. First International Forensic Conference (FIFC), Kuwait, 29 January 2017.

Peng, Y., Hall, S., and Gautam, L., 'Detection of drugs of abuse and pharmaceuticals in drinking water'. Oral presentation, International Conference on Environmental Pollution and Public Health, China, May 2016.

Hall, S., White, G., and Gautam, L., 'A novel adsorbent for the recovery and positive identification of ignitable liquids using GC-MS-ATD'. Oral presentation. 18th edition of EuroAnalysis, The European Conference on Analytical Chemistry, Bordeaux, September 2015.

Gautam, L., 'Spiked Beverage Analysis in Drug Facilitated Sexual Assaults'. United Kingdom and Ireland Association of Forensic Toxicologists (UKIAFT) meeting, LGC Teddington, UK, 2015

Key publications

Nisbet, L.A., Wylie, F.M., Logan, B.K. and Scott, K.S., 2019. Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry Method for the Quantitative Identification of 23 New Psychoactive Substances in Blood and Urine. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 43(5), pp.346–352,

Zahra, N., 2018. Biological Evidence: collection, transportation and storage. In: Mozayani, A. and Parish Fisher, C., (eds.), Forensic evidence management. Boca Raton, CRC Press, pp.29-42.

Nisbet L.A., Venson R., Wylie F.M. and Scott K.S., 2017. Application of a Urine and Hair Validated LC-MS-MS Method to Determine the Effect of Hair Color on the Incorporation of 25B-NBOMe, 25C-NBOMe and 25I-NBOMe into Hair in the Rat”. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, Jul 1;41(6), pp.559-565.

Jung S., Cho S., Antunes J., Gomes, I., Uchimoto M.L., Oh Y.N., Giacomo L., Schneider P.M., Park M.S., van der Meer D., Williams G., McCord B., Ahn H., Choi D.H., Lee Y.H., Lee S.D. and Lee H.Y., 2016. A collaborative exercise on DNA methylation based body fluid typing. Electrophoresis, 37(21), pp.2759-2766.

Zahra, N. and Goodwin, W., 2016. The development and use of Internal Amplification Controls (IACs) with DNA profiling kits for forensic DNA Analysis. In: Goodwin, W., (ed.), Forensic DNA Typing Protocols, 2nd ed. Humana Press, Ch.8, pp109-124.

Peng, Y., Hall, S., Gautam., L., 2016. Drugs of abuse in drinking water - a review of current detection methods, occurrence, elimination and health risks. Trends in Analytical Chemistry. 85: Part C. pp.232-240.