Professor Niamh Nic Daéid holding the heating element from a kettle.

I was born in Dundee and grew up in Ireland in a family of scientists. My parents were scientists involved in the investigation of fires. From an early age, I knew that women could be successful scientists and that science could be used as a real-world, practical, problem-solving tool from which you could earn a living. Indeed, my brother and I used to earn our pocket money by sticking our parents’ fire scene photographs into reports – this was long before digital photography! Now, I am an academic and a Forensic Scientist undertaking casework in fire investigations, terrorist events and the illegal manufacture of drugs.

Professor Niamh Nic Daéid

Forensic Scientists are obligated to deliver scientifically valid, unbiased and impartial evidence in a way that is communicated and understood by the jury, but Forensic Science is at a crossroads, with little valid science underpinning much of the evidence commonly appearing in our courts. As Director of the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science, a £10 million, ten-year interdisciplinary research centre established in 2016 at the University of Dundee, our mission is to identify and address the scientific and communication challenges that face Forensic Science.

We challenge the status quo, break down silos and barriers across disciplines to find that elusive common ground, empowering our practitioner community of scientists, law enforcement and the judiciary to work with us and help us build scientifically robust solutions for current and future challenges. We have been awarded a further £15 million to establish the first Institute of Innovation for Forensic Science to further develop our emergent research and ensure safe convictions through the provision of justice for victims, survivors and their loved ones.

Niamh is holding the heating element of a kettle which shows arc melt damage as a result of overheating which caused the kettle to ignite.