'Bloody' Research!

No, we are not advocating bad language here at the University of Dundee but are in fact referring to the artificial blood utilised in a recently completed research project conducted at the Institute of Motion Analysis & Research at the TORT Centre.

Footprints rank among the most frequent forms of evidence found at crime scenes, and the recent rise of forensic evidence reflects the importance of footwear and barefoot traces in forensic practice.

Fernando Bueno Neves, a BMSc in Applied Orthopaedic Technology and Science without Borders student at IMAR, under the supervision of Professor Rami Abboud and Dr Graham Arnold, has just completed his pilot study research into determining whether it is possible to establish the state of motion of people/suspects using two-dimensional footprint analysis.

Fernando's research, entitled 'Establishing state of motion through two-dimensional footprint analysis: a pilot study', recruited 11 volunteers who were required to move along four tracks (barefoot walking; barefoot running; footwear walking; footwear running) in the Gait Analysis Lab at IMAR while having their bare feet or footwear stained with artificial blood. Contact stains and associated bloodstains were collected, and body movements were recorded using three-dimensional motion capture systems.

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Left: Collecting data in the Gait Analysis lab at IMAR; Right: Fernando applying fake blood to subject's footwear.

Fernando has concluded that contact stains, associated bloodstain patterns and print and stride length measurements may serve to ascertain state of motion in real criminal scenarios, and future studies may be capable of designing statistical frameworks which could be used in courts of law.

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Professor Sue Black who has recently won £10m to establish the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science and led for the University of Dundee to become top in UK for Forensic Science & Archaeology commented by saying: “This is a really interesting and incredibly timely project given the current high level discussions being had with the Judiciary over the communication of forensic science within the courtroom. One of the first primer projects that we will address with the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh is gait analysis. It is vital that the research that underpins evidence types admitted into our courts is robust and will stand up to scrutiny and challenge. This is an excellent example of research that dovetails with the Leverhulme Research in Forensic Science”.

Fernando himself stated: "Just after my project was concluded, I visited Forensic Services at the Scottish Police Authority with one of my supervisors, Dr Graham Arnold. While walking among DNA laboratories and evidence rooms, we discussed how my research would be useful for routine and special criminal investigations. I think it is really fascinating how biomechanics is able to serve society’s needs in many distinct ways. I am very grateful for the opportunity of conducting a novel research in the field of forensic biomechanics, and I am very happy to know that my findings may be applied both to clinical assessments and to criminal investigations".

Fernando recently presented his research along with four other students from the Department of Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgery, at the International Conference on Clinical Biomechanics at Staffordshire University on 23 April 2016.

Fernando was also presented with the Department of Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgery’s Intercalated BMSc Scientific Paper Award at an awards ceremony on 31sy May 2016 at the TORT Centre. Professor Rami Abboud presents this award annually to the student who has written the best scientific research paper submission for the year as per the relevant journal guidelines.

It was heartening to listen to Fernando presenting his initial research work at Staffordshire in April and the full outcome on 24 May 2016 during his viva. Fernando was outstanding in how he approached his project from onset to completion and it was a pleasure to be his principal supervisor. His dissertation was written superbly despite the fact that English is not his first language and Medicine is taught in Portuguese in Brazil. He achieved a 1st Class Honour in his BMSc degree and the external examiner, Mr Tim Clough (Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon) was highly impressed with Fernando’s attention to detail. I will be looking forward for his work being submitted for peer review publication in due course”, stated Professor Abboud.


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