UCL Centre for the Forensic Sciences


Trace DNA

Spatial and temporal research into DNA evidence

The advances in forensic DNA analysis has progressed rapidly over the last decade. We can now find and analyse ever smaller traces of DNA. But when we find it, what does it mean? If we find your DNA at a crime scene, does that mean you were there? Or could it have transferred from someone else?

Our research investigates the spatial and temporal dynamics of DNA, which is crucial for forensic investigators so they can evaluate what the DNA they analyse actually means for a particular investigation.

It’s this ‘interpretation’ part of the forensic science process that is often missing and what our research focuses on.

Current research

  • The amount, the quality, and the persistence of DNA that has been deposited in a range of ways, such as through touching an item or speaking within its vicinity.
  • The potential onward transfer of such DNA. 
  • The generation of empirical data to assist the interpretation and evaluation of trace DNA when it is recovered from a crime scene or a pertinent exhibit.

Research projects

  • Establishing empirical evidence bases for the occurrence of transfers of trace DNA.
  • Identification of multiple transfers of trace DNA.