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AFP celebrates National Science Week 2023 by showcasing forensics expertise

12 August 2023, 8:06am
Media Release

AFP celebrates National Science Week 2023 by showcasing forensics expertise

Editor’s note: Images are available via Hightail

The AFP is showcasing the diverse roles of its forensic experts working across the agency to celebrate National Science Week 2023.  

The AFP has just under 400 roles in the forensics space, which include biometrics, DNA, fingerprint comparison and facial identification, chemical criminalistics, digital, forensics, crime scene investigation, document examination, firearms and ballistics, post-blast analysis and disaster victim identification.

The forensic experts were profiled on their roles in the AFP and offered advice to students keen to pursue a career in science:

  • Forensic Artist, Facial Identification Team, Desirée Davis

  • Laboratory Technician, Forensics, Melissa Payne

  • Team Leader, Weapons Technical Intelligence, Lora Starrs

  • Team Leader, National Armoury, Mark Goggin

AFP Chief Scientist Dr Simon Walsh said National Science Week presented an opportunity to acknowledge and highlight the important work demonstrated by the AFP Forensics team.

“To celebrate National Science Week, we want to shed light on the wide-ranging and meticulous work our forensic experts undertake as part of criminal investigations in the AFP,” Dr Walsh said.

“Our forensic members are experts in their fields and are crucial to our operations as a law enforcement agency, committed to protecting our community.”

Forensic Artist, Facial Identification Team, Desirée Davis

AFP Forensic Artist, Facial Identification Team, Desirée Davis said she had rejected an offer to study Forensics at university and had chosen to undertake a Visual Arts degree instead.

“I had talked my way into studying Art, Science and Visual Thinking whilst on exchange in Scotland and my first lecture was on Forensic Art,” Ms Davis said.

“I realised I could combine my love of science and art and use it to help people. My favourite part of my job will always be studying faces and learning what makes us unique.

“The highlight of my career has been creating an Age of Progression of a Slovenian fugitive from an INTERPOL Red Notice. After our image was released he turned himself in at a police station!”

Laboratory Technician, Forensics, Melissa Payne

AFP Laboratory Technician, Forensics, Melissa Payne said she grew up in a rural community in North Queensland where she had limited career opportunities.

Ms Payne said limited female role models in Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) careers motivated her career in science.

“Throughout school, the practical aspect of science always intrigued me and I knew I wanted a hands-on job that entertained my curiosities. Forensic science has given me the opportunity to do that, while being able to assist in public safety and solving crime,” Ms Payne said.

“The AFP is an incredible place to work, full of career opportunities, including some that you wouldn’t even think of.

“The support and encouragement given to you from work colleagues is exactly what you need to explore these diverse opportunities.”

Team Leader, Weapons Technical Intelligence, Lora Starrs

AFP Team Leader, Weapons Technical Intelligence (WTI), Lora Starrs said when she found an advertisement for a microbiologist position within the WTI team, it sounded like an exciting use of her skillset.

“The advertisement for the WTI position came to my notice at the right time and the role sounded exciting,” Ms Starrs said.

“I had spent more than a decade working across multiple biological fields in academic laboratories and established one arm of an internationally renowned transgenesis facility.

“I was searching for a new career path with new opportunities for learning and professional growth

There is so much amazing work undertaken within the AFP and many opportunities within forensics that may not be apparent from outside the organisation.”

Team Leader, National Armoury, Mark Goggin

AFP Team Leader, National Armory, Mark Goggin said he was a late bloomer and did not find this career path until his mid-20s.

“I was a mechanical engineer and it wasn’t until I joined the AFP, that my mind began to open up to new career possibilities,” Mr Goggin said.

“I always valued research, the technical elements and finer details that suits this specialist discipline. Working for the AFP is extremely rewarding and knowing that not only yourself, but every AFP member, is positively contributing to a safer community.”

To learn more about AFP forensics and careers please visit: AFP Forensics areas and roles

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