Top Prizes For Gun Shot Residue Research

A University of Derby student has scooped two regional prizes for her research using a new forensic technique to identify gunshot residue.

Final-year BSc (Hons) Forensic Science degree student, Hayley Shaw, 31, from Spondon, took home the top prizes of Best Poster and Best Oral Presentation at the Forensic Institute Research Network (FIRN)’s Student Conference 2013, held in Wolverhampton.

Hayley was awarded both prizes ahead of 25 other students from around the Midlands for her research, carried out for her University of Derby final year study, in which she investigated whether solid phase micro-extraction could tell the difference between firework residue and gunshot residue.

Hayley said: “After hours of sample testing we found that this technique was a valuable tool for rapid identification of both gunshot residue and firework residue, and successfully differentiated between the two with a sample of just one particle. Solid phase micro-extraction could therefore be used as a tool in criminal investigations.

“It felt fantastic to win these prizes, especially as this was the first time I have ever presented in public.”

Professor Allan Jamieson of The Forensic Institute, added: “Hayley has every reason to be proud of her achievement. 

“We see these awards as identifying the top talents of the future. They provide something that employers will notice in a highly competitive environment. On top of that, the Midlands seem to outshine the rest of the country in having the longest record of staging these student events.” 

Hayley decided to begin a university education at the age of 28 after she left school aged 18 to build a career in retail and become a mother.

She said: “Although I was doing well at work I felt that I had missed out on some opportunities by not going into higher education. I decided to do a foundation year - and discovered that I loved chemistry, which is why I chose forensic science.

“These prizes prove that my decision was the right one. Now I’m excited about completing my degree and working in the field.”

Source: University of Derby - Forensic Science

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