Forrest (Forensic Research and Teaching) is an annual conference partly organised by Higher Education Academy. Two of the strengths of this meeting are its multidisciplinary nature; chemists, biologists and physicists meet with lawyers and that it genuinely brings together research and teaching – both areas inform each other during the meeting.In 2012 the meeting was at Abertay University in Dundee and I travelled to the meeting with two students – Imogen McCarthy and Imogen Payne – who had just completed their degrees in Chemistry with Forensic Analysis at Reading. We gave a joint presentation on the results of forensic miniprojects which are now embedded within the Chemistry Department’s Part 3 module Forensic Analysis 2 (CH3FA2). These miniprojects arose originally from funds from the University of Reading CETL-AURS grant and bring together teaching and research in this area. The two students presented their work, not only from the research perspective of what they discovered but also from the pedagogic angle of what are the pros and cons of team project work.
Their conclusions were that the advantages definitely outweigh any disadvantages; that there are many transferable skills developed by this type of work; that wikis are very useful in group working and that the main potential disadvantage is that of marking such work fairly. They were the only two recent graduate students to give talks at the conference and their presentation was well received. They have also discussed this topic at Teaching and Learning events at Reading. As an update Imogen McCarthy is now working towards a research MSc degree in the Department of Chemistry and Imogen Payne is employed at Afton Chemicals in Bracknell.
Professor Matthew Almond