Plenary Speakers

We are proud to announce the Plenary Speakers for the 23rd Triennial Meeting of IAFS in conjunction with the 26th Symposium of the Australian & New Zealand Forensic Science Society in Sydney in November 2023.

The Scientific Program committee have curated a series of Plenary lectures to cover key challenges in Forensic Science and challenge processes with talks from Industry Leaders.
Below are a summary of what you can expect in each of our plenary sessions.

Plenary Session A (Tuesday) – Forensic Science in a Post-Pandemic World

We are now in a post-pandemic world where we have had to adapt to a “new normal” while keeping an eye on what may be over the horizon. The criminal and security landscape is rapidly evolving due to societal changes that include, but are not limited to, digital transformation. Rather than dwell on what we have been through, this session will focus on lessons learned and directions for the future. Perspectives will be presented from police management, forensic laboratory management and data processing, and forensic pathology.

Commissioner Karen Webb APM

NSW Police Force, Australia

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Commissioner Karen Webb joined NSW Police Force in May 1987 and has performed general duties and criminal investigations both in the metropolitan area of Sydney and Regional NSW. She has performed duties at the Child Mistreatment Unit, Drug Enforcement Agency, Detectives Training Unit and command roles at Forensic  Services Group, Local Area Commands, Operations Manager, North West Metropolitan Region  Commander, State Surveillance Branch and Assistant Commissioner Police Transport & Public Safety Command and Traffic and Highway Patrol Command.


Dr Lena Klasén
Swedish National Police Authority

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Dr. Lena Klasén is since June 2018 Research Director at the Office of the Police Commissioner and Ajd. Professor Digital Forensics, Computer Vision Laboratory Linköping University Sweden. January 2015 to May 2018 she was appointed Director of the Swedish National Forensic Center (NFC) and part of the National Police Commissioner strategical and operational management teams. The Swedish Police Authority has about 35 000 employees. Dr. Klasén has a PhD in Image Coding at University of Linköping, Sweden and has led industrial- and research organizations in Swedish authorities such as Saab AB, Swedish Defence research Agency, Swedish Defence Material Administration, Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science and the Implementing Committee of the New Police organization at the Swedish Ministry of Justice. Lena has and have held several commissions of trust, e g as board member and forensic expert. Her industrial experience also includes product portfolio management at Saab and being involved in starting up innovative companies. 

Through her appointment as Director of the Swedish National Forensic Centre and engagement in the scientific field of science for forensics and defence- and security applications, Dr. Klasén has gained a very broad knowledge in all the forensic science disciplines, including for example firearm, trace analysis, dna, drug analysis, fingerprints, and also grew the lab to meet the challenges within the rapidly growing field of digital forensics. Dr. Klasén had the national responsibility to coordinate the Police’s it-forensics. Dr Klasén’s current appointment as Research Director is to coordinate and exploit the research forefront and establish applied research to provide new tools and methods for the Swedish Police force, focusing on forensics and crime scene investigations. She has initiated and leads the forming of a Digital Forensics consortium, that now includes more than 50 partners, with the mission to increase the national capability in digital forensics. 

Dr Michael Pollanen,

Chief Forensic Pathologist, Canada

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Dr. Michael Pollanen’s career has been spent at the interface between pathology and vulnerable populations. The approach implemented in his work has been to use the autopsy and pathological examination as a basis to study disease and injury.

His background in anatomical pathology, neuropathology, forensic pathology, and cellular and molecular pathology has provided an innovative foundation for key morphologic studies. The specific methods that Dr. Pollanen uses for his research include:

  • gross examination
  • histopathology
  • immunohistochemistry
  • protein electrophoresis and Western blotting
  • transmission electron microscopy
  • atomic force microscopy
  • postmortem cross-sectional imaging (CT and MR).

Over the years, Dr. Pollanen’s clinical and research activities have become seamlessly interwoven with international capacity development in low- and middle-income countries.

Plenary Session B (Wednesday) – Forensic Intelligence

The traceability of humans and behaviours, and our ability to reconstruct past events, have never been greater than they are today. The proactive application of forensic technologies early in the investigative process can generate significant leads in criminal investigations. When used in a multi-case approach, these technologies can also provide intelligence that ultimately contributes to crime disruption and prevention, and enhanced security overall. The speakers in this session will provide a European perspective on intelligence-led crime scene processing, and the significant intelligence that can be generated from a range of forensic traces. Ethical aspects will also be discussed.

Prof Olivier Delémont 
University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Prof Christophe Champod
University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Prof Denise Syndercombe-Court
King’s College London, United Kingdom

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Olivier Delémont is Professor in Forensic Science at the Ecole des Sciences Criminelles (School of Criminal Justice) of the University of Lausanne (Switzerland). After completing a PhD in forensic science, he pursued a parallel academic and police career for almost 10 years, dividing his time between research and teaching activities at the University of Lausanne, and a forensic scientist position at the Geneva police. Since his appointment as a professor in 2005, he has conducted research in relation to several areas of forensic activities, and in particular crime scene investigation, fire investigation, fire debris analysis, chemical criminalistics, wastewater analysis and forensic intelligence. His research activities and interests cover a wide range of areas, as evidenced by the scope of the peer-reviewed scientific publications, book chapters and books of which he is the author. He defines himself as a generalist, with the overarching vision of considering forensic science as a discipline on its own.

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Christophe Champod received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. (summa cum laude) both in Forensic Science, from the University of Lausanne, in 1990 and 1995 respectively. Remained in academia until holding the position of assistant professor in forensic science. From 1999 to 2003, he led the Interpretation Research Group of the Forensic Science Service (UK), before taking a full professorship position at the School of Criminal Justice (ESC) of the University of Lausanne.

He is in charge of education and research on identification methods (interpretation of DNA, facial images, fingerprints, toolmarks, footwear marks and firearms) and has the privilege to work with a group of 20 PhD students. The research carried out by his group is mainly devoted to the inferential aspects associated with forensic identification techniques. The value to be attached to forensic evidence is at the core of their interests.

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Denise is a highly respected scientist, academic, statistician, editor and author of medical and forensic text books, with over twenty years’ experience in laboratory research, evidential examination and is a court-going accredited expert witness, giving evidence in court on many occasions over the last fifteen years.  Her appointment as a Professor in Forensic Genetics at King’s College London has allowed her to teach forensic genetics to undergraduate and post-graduate students and supervise those undertaking research for their doctorates. Her expertise relates to human DNA analysis for identification, both analysis and interpretation and specialises in the use of molecular biology techniques involving sequencing and fragment analysis in the analysis of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA, particularly those presented in complex matrices, methylated DNA and RNA in all body fluids, phenotypic and ancestral inference.  She leads an ISO17025 Ministry of Justice accredited laboratory as part of King’s Forensics human relationships.  She is a blood pattern expert and statistician and has held consultant positions in medical and forensic science and medical statistics with various organisations.  She is a member of several professional associations (Biochemical Society, British Academy of Forensic Sciences, Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine, Academy of Forensic Medical Sciences, Institute of Biological and Medical Sciences, International Society of Forensic Genetics, Royal Society of Biology and the Royal Statistical Society), represents the UK on the European DNA profiling group, is the International Society of Forensic Genetics representative to the UK Forensic Regulator’s DNA Working Group.   Her research group has been the UK partner, with other European Forensic Institutes, undertaking research in the forensic arena: STADNAP, SNPforID and EuroforGen, presenting her research and attending relevant International meetings.   As a member of the European Forensic Genetics Network of Excellence she was joint leader of the ethics and law work package and is a member of the Home Office Biometrics and Forensic Ethics Group.  She has an active interest in promoting and ethical view of science, and especially the use of DNA in justice to a wider audience via television, radio and external lectures.

Plenary Session C (Thursday) – Global Strategies on Gender-Based Violence & Missing Persons

This session will explore global forensic strategies to assist in the investigation of gender-based violence and missing persons. These strategies will include multi-disciplinary approaches and highlight the need for robust science and sound forensic science principles. Perspectives will be presented from the USA, Sri Lanka, and the International Commission on Missing Persons.

Prof Anuruddhi Edirisinghe

University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

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Anuruddhi Samanthika Edirisinghe is the Carder Chair Professor of Forensic Medicine, in the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. She graduated from the North Colombo Medical College in 1995 and commenced her carrier in Forensic Medicine in 2000.  She completed her specialist training in 2006 with DLM(2001), MD(For Med)(2003), DMJ(Lond)(2005). She obtained MFFLM(UK) in 2012 based on published work. She has been working as a specialist in Forensic Medicine to the North Colombo Teaching Hospital Ragama, Sri Lanka from 2006. She was promoted as a merit professor in Forensic Medicine in 2014 and became the Carder Chair Professor of Forensic Medicine from 2017. Professor Edirisinghe is the first female to hold a forensic carder chair post in a National University in Sri Lanka. She has journal publications over 30, 2 book chapters and over 150 presentations in local/international scientific conferences. Her research interests include child abuse, sexual and gender based violence, homicides, drunken drivers, unnatural female deaths etc.

Dr. Michelle D. Miranda

Farmingdale State College, United States

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Dr. Michelle D. Miranda is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Security Systems and Law Enforcement Technology at Farmingdale State College, State University of New York. She has a Ph.D. in criminal justice, forensic science concentration, from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, an M.S. in forensic science, an M.Phil. in criminal justice, and a B.S. in biology.  Dr. Miranda is a diplomate with the American Board of Criminalistics and a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. She worked as a criminalist in the Trace Evidence Section of the New York City Police Department Crime Lab, and as both a medical photographer and a death investigator for regional Medical Examiner’s Offices in New York. Her background and research cover forensic science and criminalistics, detection and investigation, analytical reasoning, transnational security and sexual violence. Dr. Miranda is the author of the book Forensic Analysis of Tattoos and Tattoo Inks.

Dr. Thomas Parsons
International Commission on Missing Persons

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Thomas J. Parsons is the former Director of Science and Technology at the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).  There he supervised a large technical staff in a multidisciplinary approach to location and identification of the missing through imagery, forensic archaeology, anthropology, pathology, bioinformatics and high throughput DNA analysis. Current development at the ICMP laboratory focuses on optimal massively parallel sequencing approaches to missing persons DNA identification. The ICMP has assisted with the DNA-based identification of nearly 20,000 persons and works on missing persons cases globally.  Dr. Parsons has coordinated provision of extensive DNA and other forensic science evidence to the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) and other courts, and testified on multiple occasions for the ICTY in The Hague.  Prior to joining the ICMP, Dr. Parsons worked at the US Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) since August of 1994, and held the position of AFDIL Chief Scientist since 2000.  For two years after the 9/11 attacks, he served on a seminal National Institute of Justice advisory panel for the World Trade Center DNA identification efforts.  His undergraduate degree was in Physics from the University of Chicago, and he received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Washington in 1989.  As a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution, he focused on ancient DNA, molecular evolution and phylogenetics, as well as mtDNA biogeography and avian speciation. He received the 2015 biennial Scientific Prize from the International Society of Forensic Genetics. 

Plenary Session D (Friday) – Where to from here?

Moderated by Dr Simon Walsh, Chief Scientist with the Australian Federal Police, this panel session will explore the nature and purpose of the Sydney Declaration and will showcase expert views across several ‘disciplines’ in response to the main question posed at IAFS 2023: Where to from here?

Dr Rebecca Bucht

Finnish NBI Forensic Science Laboratory, Finland

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Dr. Rebecca Bucht currently holds the role of Quality Manager at the Forensic Science Laboratory of the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation. She has also served as the Head of CSI services within the same organization. In 2017, she returned to Finland, bringing with her valuable experience gained during her time as a consultant for the US DOJ International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Training Program (ICITAP). In this capacity, she provided valuable expertise as a senior forensic advisor for the program in Algeria and served in smaller roles in other international locations, including the Philippines, Tanzania, Brazil, and Tunisia.

Dr. Bucht obtained her PhD in Criminal Justice, specializing in Forensic Science, from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her dissertation research was conducted at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she also contributed as an adjunct professor in the Department of Forensic Science.

Dr. Bucht’s professional pursuits are dedicated to advancing the contribution of forensic science within the criminal justice system. She emphasizes the importance of a holistic approach to the field. Dr. Bucht’s research has covered diverse areas, from exploring the use of polarized light for visualizing blood stains on darker surfaces to employing multivariate statistics and quantitative x-ray diffraction data for the forensic analysis of duct tapes. In addition, she actively seeks practical strategies to mitigate cognitive biases in forensic examination procedures.

Ms Caroline Gibb
University of Twente, Netherlands

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Caroline Gibb is an experienced fingerprint subject matter expert with a strong background in forensic science. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Twente, where her research focuses on computer-assisted consensus approaches to support human judgment and decision-making under uncertainty. Before her doctoral studies, she spent two years at the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) after relocating from Melbourne, Australia in March 2018. Prior to her relocation, Caroline spent 13 years as a Forensic Officer with the Victoria Police Forensic Services Department. She holds a Certificate of Fingerprint Expertise from Australia and has extensive knowledge and experience in biometric systems (AFIS/Live scan), fingermark crime scene recovery and laboratory processing, mortuary attendance, friction ridge analysis and interpretation, and expert witness reports and testimony. In 2014, Caroline was awarded the Allan Hodda Memorial Award from the Australia New Zealand Forensic Science Society (ANZFSS), which allowed her to explore the evolution and expansion in the delivery of fingerprint expertise and the movement toward a logical framework. She is an advocate for academic and industry connectivity to strengthen the science. Her research at the University of Twente and current collaborations reflects this and include the Netherlands Forensic Institute, The National Police of the Netherlands, The Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Sciences, and the Forensic Fingerprint Division at The Scottish Police Authority. Caroline is passionate about adapting education and training for next generation examiners and is dedicated to the ongoing development of fingerprint subject matter expertise.

Dr Linzi Wilson-Wilde OAM
Forensic Science Queensland, Australia

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In February 2021, Dr Linzi Wilson-Wilde took up the position of Director of Forensic Science SA. She was formerly the director of the National Institute of Forensic Science, working for that organisation for 12 years. Linzi has a PhD from the University of Canberra. Highlights of Linzi’s career, commencing in 1996, include legislative reform, national policy development and involvement in high-profile cases, including managing the DNA analysis in the disaster victim identification and criminal investigation of the Bali Bombing (2002). Linzi has worked for Victoria Police, New South Wales Police and the Australian Federal Police. Recently, Linzi has been involved in the development of Australian and International Standards in forensic science and is the current Chair of ISO TC272. Linzi is a member of the International Forensic Strategic Alliance and represents them on the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor Scientific Advisory Board. Linzi has received a Medal in the Order of Australia for her work and was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2014.

Mr Dean Catoggio
National Institute of Forensic Science

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Dean Catoggio is the Assistant Director of the National Institute of Forensic Science at the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA NIFS). Dean oversees the day-to-day management of the ANZPAA NIFS work program, including coordinating a network of specialist advisory groups, Best Paper Awards and its practitioner certification program for fingerprint, crime scene and firearms examiners. Dean has managed cross-jurisdictional projects, including developing an introductory guide to evaluative reporting and establishing the ANZPAA NIFS Research and Innovation Roadmap 2020-2025. He is currently devising a framework for identifying foundational research priorities promoting operationally relevant research collaborations within the broader forensic science community.

Dean began his career in 1989 as a forensic audio-video analyst at the Victoria Police Forensic Services Department (VPFSD), testifying in Victoria, South Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania courts. As former chair and founding Electronic Evidence Specialist Advisory Group member, he initiated an annual proficiency test program for forensic signal processing. Before commencing as ANZPAA NIFS Assistant Director in 2016, Dean was Digital and Document Evidence Group manager and was a scientific advisor to the 2013 VPFSD Forensic Operations Organisational Review. Dean is a member of the National Association of Testing Authorities (Australia) Forensic Science Accreditation Advisory Committee and a signal processing technical assessor. He is a member of the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences and was Victoria Chapter Treasurer from 2015-2022.

Prof Jason Payne-James
Queen Mary University of London

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Jason Payne-James is a Specialist in Forensic and Legal Medicine. He has been a forensic physician for more than 3 decades. His interests include injury, evidential sampling, wound and scar interpretation, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, clinical aspects of healthcare in custody, complaints against healthcare professionals, restraint and less-lethal systems, miscarriages of justice, death in custody, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. In the UK he is Lead Medical Examiner at the Norfolk & Norwich Hospitals University NHS Trust; Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee on the Medical Implications of Less-Lethal weapons; expert adviser to the National Crime Agency. He is Honorary Clinical Professor, Queen Mary University of London. He is an Executive Board Member of the European Council of Legal Medicine. He was President of the Faculty of Forensic & Legal Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians, London (2015-2017); President of the World Police Medical Officers (2011-2014). He has co-authored & co-edited (amongst others) the Encyclopedia of Forensic & Legal Medicine (1st & 2nd editions); Current Practice in Forensic Medicine (3 volumes); the 13th and 14th Editions of Simpson’s Forensic Medicine. The new Forensic & Legal Medicine: Clinical & Pathological Aspects will be published in late 2023 edited by Jason & Roger Byard. Jason investigates  cases in the UK and internationally on matters including torture, causes of death, deaths and care in state custody and miscarriages of justice.

Prof Pierre Margot
Université de Lausanne, Switzerland

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Prof Pierre Margot obtained a combined degree in forensic science and criminology at Lausanne University, Switzerland, a MSc degree and a PhD degree in forensic science at Strathclyde University, UK. Postdoctoral research led him from Salt Lake City (University of Utah), to the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and the Australian National University in Canberra. Holder of the chair in forensic science since 1986 as the 4th professor occupying the first academic chair in forensic science, created in 1909, he led a research centre and developed further the discipline as a key actor of forensic intelligence, investigative science and in providing evaluative reports. Internationally acclaimed he received major awards (Douglas M. Lucas Medal, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, doctorate honoris causa, University of Québec (Canada), French speaking Pantheon of criminalistics, ENFSI contributor award, the John Dondero Award of the IAI and in 2023 the Paul Kirk Award (American Academy of Forensic Sciences). Pierre Margot was associate editor of Forensic Science International for over 20 years until 2020, and author of numerous publications.

Dr Simon Walsh
Australian Federal Police

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As the Chief Scientist Forensics, Dr Simon Walsh leads a critical operational support portfolio that amalgamates the AFP’s Forensic and Intelligence functions and capabilities.

Through this role, Simon’s focus is on maximising operational impact, building specialist policing capability and reducing organisational risk. He works across government and industry sectors and represents the AFP as its Chief Scientist on multiple national and international leadership forums addressing national security, policing,  science and innovation.

Simon joined the AFP in 2006 and on the pathway to his current executive leadership responsibilities had built his career as a specialist in forensic science and criminal intelligence.

Prior to joining the AFP, Simon held a variety of professional and academic positions in forensic science in Australia and New Zealand, where as a practitioner he provided expert statements in over 2,000 criminal cases and presented expert testimony on over 55 occasions including as a specialist consultant.

Complimenting his operational achievements, Simon has established a global reputation as a specialist and an innovator. He has authored a textbook on Forensic DNA Evidence Interpretation, and more than 100 book chapters and peer reviewed journal articles. Simon received his PhD in 2009 and is an Adjunct Associate Professor of the University of Canberra.

During his tenure as the AFP Chief Forensic Scientist, Simon developed a reforming vision for AFP Forensics and implemented structural and cultural transformation, including the specialist design and delivery of the new AFP Forensic Facility. From 2008-2016, Simon was the AFP National Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) Commander. In this capacity, he led numerous major domestic and international DVI operations including an international leadership role in Operation Bring Them Home – the downing of Flight MH17 over Ukraine).

In recognition of his service and achievements, Simon has received a range of external awards including the Public Service Medal, Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal and National Emergency Medal under the Australian Honours framework.  In 2014, he was awarded the UTS Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence and the Faculty of Science UTS Alumni of the Year. Simon is the current Chair of the ACT Chapter and Vice-President of the National Council of the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS). 

Simon holds a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in Anatomy from the University of Queensland, a Doctorate in Philosophy (PhD) in Science from the University of Technology, Sydney and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Applied Management (Emergency Services) from Charles Sturt University.