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forensics

Hutton scientists contribute evidence to parliamentary investigation into UK forensic science (News)

Scientists of the James Hutton Institute have provided evidence for an investigation conducted by the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee into the quality and reliability of forensic science within the UK legal ... Read more

Professor Lorna Dawson honoured with Expert Witness 2019 award (News)

Professor Lorna Dawson, Head of Soil Forensics at the James Hutton Institute and SEFARI Advisor on the Scottish Government‘s Strategic Research Programme 2016-2021, has been recognised with an Expert Witness Award 2019 by sp ... Read more

Professor Lorna Dawson announced as RSE Fellow (News)

Professor Lorna Dawson, head of Forensic Soil Science at the James Hutton Institute and advisor to the SEFARI Strategic Research Programme, has been made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The Royal Society of Edinburgh ... Read more

The 18th BioDundee International Conference - 'New perspectives, new opportunities: Life Sciences and Healthcare' (Event)

The Conference represents a wide spectrum of life science interests in and around the city, from the ‘red end’ of medical sciences to the ‘green end’ with plant and crop science. This year's accompanyin ... Read more

Soil, a key trace material in forensic investigations (News)

The important role soil can play in forensic investigations has again been highlighted by the involvement of the James Hutton Institute’s soil forensics team in a high-profile case, this time the enquiry by South Yorkshire P ... Read more

Hutton forensic soil scientist in multi-agency search for Moira Anderson (News)

Professor Lorna Dawson, a forensic soil scientist based at the James Hutton Institute, has joined a team of Police Scotland detectives as they commence a full scientific examination of a site in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire as pa ... Read more

Forensic fact meets forensic fiction (Event)

As part of CrimeFest 2016 in Aberdeenshire, crime writer Lin Anderson and Hutton forensics expert Professor Lorna Dawson ask ‘How real is fiction when it comes to the forensic facts of a case?‘ ... Read more

Hutton soil forensic evidence helps police secure murder conviction (News)

Soil isn’t just dirt: it’s the ideal trace material, as it sticks when wet and can be highly distinctive. That’s what Professor Lorna Dawson, Head of Soil Forensic Science at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdee ... Read more

Soil forensics: digging up the bodies (Event)

As part of the Bloody Scotland Festival, our Head of Soil Forensics, Professor Lorna Dawson, will participate in a discussion of forensic fact and fiction together with crime writer Lin Anderson. ... Read more

Tracking a killer: forensics in crime fiction (Event)

As part of Byres Road Book Festival, our Head of Soil Forensics, Professor Lorna Dawson, will participate in a discussion of forensic fact and fiction together with crime writer Lin Anderson. ... Read more

Soil forensic scientists narrow down locations for Moira Anderson search (News)

In collaboration with Police Scotland detectives, Professor Lorna Dawson and her team from the James Hutton Institute has helped narrow down the number of possible locations where the remains of schoolgirl Moira Anderson, missing ... Read more

Forensic soil science and soft fruit research showcased on national TV (News)

Our research continues to attract the interest of the media, as scientists from the James Hutton Institute have participated in TV programmes broadcast by BBC Four and Channel 4 to discuss soil forensics and the health benefits of ... Read more

Forensic femme fatales (Event)

Professor Lorna Dawson, Head of Soil Forensics at the James Hutton Institute, will take part in the Royal Society panel event Forensic femme fatales, which is being held at the Society on Saturday 4 July 2015 at 3.30pm as part of ... Read more

Professor Lorna Dawson profiled in Nature (News)

Prestigious scientific publication Nature has published a profile of Professor Lorna Dawson, Head of Soil Forensics at the James Hutton Institute. The story, titled Forensic science: The soil sleuth, describes Professor Dawson&r ... Read more

Realising Land's Potential stakeholder engagement events (Research Page)

Stakeholder engagement events relating to theme topics Health and wellbeing conferences and workshops Date Title Theme role Venue 25 November 2013 ... Read more

Natural resource datasets and databases (Research Page)

Soil mapping ... Read more

DNA fingerprinting for soils might soon help catch criminals (News)

In certain criminal cases, soil, mud or vegetation on, or from, a vehicle or foot, clothing or implements may provide the clue that could point to a particular search location. ... Read more

Soil forensics (Research Page)

... Read more

Professorial success for The James Hutton Institute (News)

Two top scientists at The James Hutton Institute have been appointed to Visiting Professor positions at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. Dr Lorna Dawson, Principal Soil Scientist and Head of Soil Forensics, and Dr Wolfram M ... Read more

Knowledge Exchange Coordinator
Information and Computational Sciences
Knowledge Exchange Coordinator
david.miller@hutton.ac.uk
+44 (0)1224 395276

The James Hutton Institute
Craigiebuckler
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK

 

Current research interests

I am responsible for the strategic co-ordination of knowledge exchange at the institute, and research and commercial projects within the remits of several of the institute research themes. I am the Institute representative on the knowledge exchange and impact Gateway of SEFARI (the collective of six research institutes under the title: Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes). In the Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme (2011-16) I was co-ordinator of the Land Use Theme.

My current research interests are on understanding the landscape preferences of different types of stakeholder with respect to characteristics of cultural landscapes, the implications for multi-functional land uses, and their incorporation into planning. This work takes account of the context of past and present land uses, and scenarios of future landscapes in the testing of public preferences with a view to understanding the significance of individual drivers of change on characteristics of landscapes. Research into visual quality in relation to scenarios of landscape change was undertaken under the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (RELU), in collaboration with Dr Asa Ode, of Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. These studies make extensive use of spatial analysis of landscape characteristics and indicators, visualization tools, and both our stand alone and mobile virtual landscape theatre, with particular interest in enabling the development of visions of future land uses, rural and urban by stakeholders and the public, and the role of public participation in land use decision-making.

The development of these tools increasingly involves the combination of spatial modelling outputs with virtual reality, to provide augmented reality tools for both research and knowledge exchange. Research applications include in renewable energy, urban green spaces and human wellbeing, and rural and urban spatial land use planning. The direction of this research is to explore spatial and temporal pathways of change, and public perspectives on the evolution of land uses and landscapes into the future.

I lead areas of the Institute's knowledge exchange programme, including the Virtual Landscape Theatre, for communicating opinions about urban and rural pressures for land use change, between politicians, planners, and the public, including schools.

My research involves close working in teams comprising the social and natural sciences, which is also reflected in most of my research proposals, Scottish Government research activities, and papers. Examples of such studies are the recent study of the Effects of Greenspace on Human Health and Wellbeing (Scottish Government, Green Health), and Visualization Tools for Public Participation in the Management of Landscape Change (European Union, VisuLands).

Current research projects include

Recent competitive funding (projects overlapping 1 January 2007 - 31 December 2013) totals £6.157k, with £1.962k to the institute.

Collaborative networks

Previous European Union projects include

Reviewing responsibilities have included the European Union Framework Programmes, and research councils in Australia, Switzerland, Belgium and Norway as well as public agencies in the UK.

Past research

My research background has included the development of methods for handling and analysing geographic information, using them to map, monitor and model change in urban and rural land use and landscapes, mapping peat deposits in Scotland, the creation of natural resource databases (for example, land cover), and visual impacts of land use change.

Research on the visual impacts of land use change combine analysis of the landscape visibility, producing the first map of the intervisibility of the terrain of Scotland, land use change, and landscape preferences. Applications of the analysis of landscape intervisibility have included the assessment of landscape sensitivity to wind turbine development for Highland Council in Scotland, and the mapping of visibility for wind farm development in Scottish Borders. It also led to the first national level mapping and analysis of visibility of the seascapes of the coast of Wales as part of Maritime Ireland/Wales INTERREG 1994-1999, and of Scotland.

Wales Visibility of the sea from the land
Wales Visibility of the land from the sea

 

 

 

 

 

Research on viewing distances and visual impact of offshore wind turbines (with Ian Bishop, University of Melbourne) has been cited in a number of advisory reports, including in the UK and USA.

Our tools for the development of visual and cumulative impacts of wind turbines on landscapes have been applied extensively in the assessment of wind farm proposals. Examples include public enquiries into the extension of Cemmaes B, Llanbrynmair, Powys, and a conjoined public enquiry on the visual and cumulative visual impacts of wind turbines proposed at three sites in Mid-Wales, 2001, Carno, Powys, in each case presenting evidence on behalf of the Countryside Council for Wales.

Work on spatial decision support tools has included the use of GIS tools and rules based systems to produce the first spatial plans for the development of wind farms for Wales, the spatial plan for wind energy for Scottish Borders Council and inputs to the plan for Aberdeenshire.

Example of a spatial plan for wind energy in Wales (January 2002)
Spatial plan for wind energy for Scottish Borders Council

 

 

 

 

Digital mapping and analysis tools were developed to support the assessment of natural resources in Scotland. The principal applications have been as follows.

  • The topographic and peat depth surveys of 22 peat deposits in Scotland and England, listed here, (that is, surface and bottom contours, peat depth, isopachytes, cross-sections, peat volume, and peat quality), mainly raised bogs and peat workings. The survey methodology was broadly the same as that of the Moss Survey Group for the Scottish Peat Committee, latterly based at the Macaulay Institute for Soil Research (MISR). A listing of the topographic, depth and reconnaissance surveys of peat deposits in Scotland for the Scottish Peat Committee, and further surveys by MISR is available here. The deepest peat profile I surveyed was 10.0m (Creca Moss). The deepest in the Scottish Peat Survey records is 11.0m (Threepwood Moss, Roxburghshire). Maps of the areas surveys follow, with *.pdfs of the Scottish peat Survey sites to 1984 here, and peat depth surveys post 1984 here.
Sites of topographic surveys of peat deposits in Scotland
Scottish Peat Survey sites: Scottish Peat Committee and Macaulay Institute for Soil Research

 

 

 

 

 

Research on spatial planning and impacts of wind turbines, and resource assessments of peatlands are brought together in work on a payback calculator for wind turbines on peatland. This was for the Scottish Government, in collaboration with University of Aberdeen and Forest Research, from which a paper describing the calculator has also been published.

The studies of urban greenspaces Included inventories in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee; urban land use change; analysis of accessibility using route networks between every domestic property in the cities and the nearest of each type of greenspace. Projects have been undertaken for Scottish Enterprise on economic valuation (Streetscapes, with Robert Gordon University), the European Union on preferences, use, spatial modelling, and 3D visualisations (Greenspaceco-ordinated by University College Dublin; Greenclusterco-ordinated by Alterra), Edinburgh City Council on geographic analysis of access and greenspace audits, and Scottish Government on the contribution of greenspace to human health and wellbeing (GreenHealth, with Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Heriot Watt, and BioSS). Watch the video description of the findings here. This is extended to the role of water, notably flooding, in relation to well-being such as a cause of stress, or a factor influencing psychological restoration (BlueHealth, for Scottish Government through CREW).

Recent reports for Scottish Government

Recent presentations

Recent events

  • 'Squeezed Middle' debate about land use in Scotland, at Gordonstoun School, 3rd October 2013.

Environmental and Biochemical Sciences
Environmental and Biochemical Sciences
Head of Forensic Science
lorna.dawson@hutton.ac.uk
+44 (0)7815 178093

The James Hutton Institute
Craigiebuckler
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK

 

Professor Lorna Dawson is Head of the Soil Forensics Group within the Environmental and Biochemical Sciences group at the James Hutton Institute, and has over 30 years’ experience in managing and conducting research in soil and plant interactions, in particular its application in the criminal justice system. She was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2018.

Current research interests

Lorna has co-edited seminal books on Geoforensics (Springer, 2009 and The Geological Society, London, 2013), is a trained Expert Witness and is Head of the Hutton Soil Forensic team (see leaflet on our soil forensic services, PDF file) and has worked on over 100 forensic cases in the UK and abroad, as a forensic soil expert working for police forces, lawyers and forensic service providers. She is a member of the National Crime Agency and has diplomas in Criminal and Civil law (Cardiff University, 2011 and 2012, revalidated in 2017). She regularly presents evidence in courts in Scotland, England, Wales and Australia. She is a Fellow of the British Society of Soil Science, a Chartered Soil Scientist, was a council member of the Institute of Professional Soil Scientists (2009-2013) and was a member of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Science in Society panel (2007-2011). She has considerable experience in knowledge exchange, has worked on sabbatical for the BBC, advising on 'Countryfile', ‘Vera’ and 'Silent Witness'. She has also worked with a range of crime authors (Murder, Mystery & Microscopes pages), e.g. crime author Ann Cleeves to produce a Murder, Mystery Pack to be distributed to libraries to run public events. She is responsible for developing many of the Institute's soil education resources, for example, the set of soils posters, composting activity, and Soils of the Crofts which has been translated into Gaelic with Crofting Connections. She regularly organises and performs in public debating events, examining the interface between science and fiction, and was awarded best live science communication event, 2009. She was appointed to the General Committee of the British Science Association in 2013, is a STEM Ambassador; and a member of the Chief Scientist’s Science and Engineering Community Forum (2015). She is a Fellow of the RSA, and a member of the RSA, Food, Farming and Countryside Commission’s Research Advisory Group (December, 2017 to present), on the Editorial Board of Geoscience and a member of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) Academic Committee, 2018 to 2021.


Printed from /category/tags/forensics on 22/09/19 09:30:35 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.