I’m a forensic anthropologist helping to solve crimes by studying bones and working out who they belonged to. I grew up in Yorkshire but now live and work in North Wales, with my search dog Bella, where I teach forensic science at University
Hi, my name is Amy and my pronouns are she/her. I’m originally from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, but now I live in Wrexham, North Wales, with my dog Bella. She’s a 7 year old Springer Spaniel and is a trained search dog. I am a forensic science lecturer and specialise in forensic anthropology and archaeology which is the search, recovery and identification of human remains, specifically bones.
I love to cook and particularly love baking. I watch the Great British Bake Off religiously and one day I would love to be on the show. I enjoy musical theatre and recently I was in a local production of ‘Made in Dagenham’ which is about equal rights for women in the workplace and is based on a true story!
My pronouns are:
I’m a forensic anthropologist helping the police to solve crimes by studying skeletons and working out who they belonged to.
I am a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science at Wrexham Glyndwr University where I teach students how to collect evidence from crime scenes, how to test that evidence in the laboratory and how to present that evidence to a courtroom so that they can go on to help solve crimes in the future. My background is in biology and I specialise in archaeology and anthropology which means I work a lot with dead bodies. It might seem a bit gruesome and scary but it is really important work.
As well as teaching I do a lot of research. This mainly involves trying to find out more about what happens to people’s bodies after they die and figuring out how quickly they turn in to a skeleton. This means that I can help the police with casework. If people go missing or die as a result of a crime or natural disaster, I can help to find them and figure out what happened. My role can be quite varied, from helping to plan a search strategy, to digging up a body from a grave or studying the skeleton afterwards to try and work out who it belonged to.
My Typical Day:
I get up early to walk my dog, Bella, before going to the University where I spend most of my day teaching students how to solve crimes. Sometimes I have to travel to a crime scene if there is a big case that the police need help with.
Most mornings I take my dog Bella out for a long walk. We also use this time to do some training as she is a search dog. I go out and hide things for her to then find. She’s very good at it and thinks it all a big game as when she gets it right she gets to play with her tennis ball. After training Bella is normally quite tired so she stays at home and naps while I go into the University. Although sometimes Bella does get to come with me so we can teach the students about search strategies!
Once I’m at the University I spend a little time in my office getting everything prepared for a day of teaching. My teaching covers lots of different subjects from fingerprint analysis to blood spatter investigation, from bones in the ground to bugs under a microscope. I spend a lot of time with students in the laboratory doing experiments but also in our Crime Scene House which we use to set up scenarios for the students to practice their skills.
As well as teaching I try to find some time to work in the bone lab where we clean and photograph bones that have been found locally. Most of these are very old and part of archaeological sites, sometimes they are animal bones and don’t need investigating further but often they are human and so I try to work out who they belonged to: are they male/female, were they old or young when they died, how tall were they and did they have any injuries we could see.
Occasionally if there is a big case such as a murder or a mass disaster I might get called away from the University to help the police. Sometimes this is just for a short time to help them find a missing person or check to see if a skeleton that’s found is recent or historical. Although I have also been called away to work on bigger cases that lasted a number of weeks and even meant travelling abroad.
What I'd do with the prize money:
I’d love to use the prize money to bring forensic anthropology and archaeology into more class rooms so everyone can have a go at forensic investigation. Unfortunately the artefacts needed to study these subjects are often delicate and the ethics and law surrounding them is complex. You can’t just bring a box of bones out! So, I would hope to use 3D scanning and printing technology to produce replicas that can be studied either on the computer or in real life.
Keresforth Primary School
Silcoates Secondary School & 6th Form
The University of Bradford
The University of Chester
9 x GCSEs: Art, Biology, Chemistry, English Language, English Literature, Maths, Music, Religious Studies, Spanish
3 x A-Levels: Biology, Maths and Religious Studies
BSc (Hons) Forensic Biology
MSc Forensic Archaeology & Crime Scene Investigation
Diploma in Teaching
EdD Doctorate in Education (current)
Information & Communications Officer 2009-2014
Sample Reception Coordinator 2012
Tutor in Biology, Anatomy and Forensic Science 2013-2014
Lecturer in Criminology & Forensic Investigation 2014-2016
Lecturer in Forensic Science 2016-2020
Personal Effects Specialist 2017
External Examiner in Public Services, Forensic Science and Biology 2017-Present
Archaeology Fieldschool Supervisor 2018-Present
Forensic Medicine Course Tutor 2018-Present
Covid-19 Volunteer 2020 – Present
Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science 2020-Present
Wrexham Glyndwr University
My favourite CHRISTMAS LECTURES memory is:
Watching Professor Marcus du Sautoy's session on code-breaking. I was about 14-15 at the time and was fascinated with espionage and the possibility of becoming a spy!
How is your work linked to the CHRISTMAS LECTURES
Prof Sue Black has actually been a real inspiration of mine as we have a similar focus on recovery and identification of remains. I hope to have a career half as interesting as she has had!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Teacher, Dog-lover, Crime-fighter
What did you want to be after you left school?
A scientist, but it took me some time to commit to forensics
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Sometimes. I wasn't very organised and often lost my homework
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I would love to be an actress or a singer - maybe in shows on the westend
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I don't have a favourite - anything you can sing along to
What's your favourite food?
A chicken and stuffing sandwhich
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To get my doctorate (I'm working on it at the moment but it's hard). To meet a partner who doesn't find it weird or scary that I spend so much time with dead people. To finally be accepted as a contestant on the Great British Bake Off!
Tell us a joke.
Why is it easy to make a forensic archaeologist laugh - because they're good a finding the humerus