Forensic Mycology - An important addition to the forensic armoury - Bristol Fungus Day

Oct 05 2019 10:00 - 11:00

Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bath Rd, BS4 3EW Bristol

As part of Bristol Fungus Day we are delighted to present this exciting talk on forensic mycology by Professor Patricia E.J. Wiltshire! 

This talk will give a brief outline and definition of forensic science and then go on to discuss the requirements and the role of a forensic mycologist. The various classes of evidence which interweave with mycological evidence will be presented, especially the field of palynology (pollen and plant spore analysis). Together, they can provide meaningful and powerful trace evidence. The same sample is used for both palynology and mycology so that two distinct classes of evidence are obtained from the same material. Fungi also enable the investigator to time event, and examples will be given to demonstrate this. A number of case histories will be presented so that a grasp will be gained of the way basic mycology has been used in complex criminal and civil investigations. A range of cases will demonstrate the various ways in which mycological evidence has been pivotal in solving crime.

Here's what Prof Patricia Wiltshire says about herself and the subject: 

"I had a thorough education in mycology at King's College, London as an undergraduate, and eventually became lecturer in Microbial Ecology in the same Botany Department. I was particularly interested in the ecology of fungi in soil and their interaction with other organisms - bacteria, algae, plants, and animals.
After leaving King's, I went to UCL and worked in archaeology. I worked as a botanist/palynologist and was engaged in palaeo-environmental reconstruction, using soils, sediments, and artefacts both from on-site and off-site locations. By combining the palynological findings with those from other disciplines, we were able to give pictures of past landscapes and land-use methods, various kinds of husbandry, and the foods exploited, both wild and cultivated. A chance call from a police force involved me in helping them to identify that a vehicle belonging to suspects had been driven to the place where the victim had been deposited. After the success of that case, I was called repeatedly by that first police force and subsequently others. I have now worked with every police force in the UK and Eire. While at UCL, I set up and coordinated an MSc course in Forensic Archaeological Science which ran for many years, and many of the ex-students have obtained employment in various fields of criminal investigation, at home and abroad. While analysing various palynomorphs, the non-botanical ones became of interest and I included fungi in my analyses. Working with Professor David Hawksworth transformed the profile given to mycology and, together, we have developed the new field of Forensic Mycology. When coupled with palynology, mycology provides powerful trace evidence. However, aside of the spores, the behaviour of fungi, and their growth characteristics, has enabled us to estimate post mortem interval accurately and provide intelligence of many kinds for criminal and civil investigators."

Talks will be held in the Anglican Chapel, please turn up 10mins before the talk as we will be running a tight schedule!

All tickets are free, but any donations are appreciated! Billetto does add a small fee for donations.