UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science

Prof Ruth Morgan

Prof Ruth Morgan

Professor of Crime and Forensic Sciences

Dept of Security and Crime Science

Faculty of Engineering Science

Joined UCL
16th Jul 2007

Research summary

Professor Ruth Morgan's research group is focused around the role of physical evidence in the detection of crime and concerns the interpretation of forensic evidence and intelligence.  The research falls into two main areas; evidence dynamics and the interpretation of evidence.  

We are actively seeking to establish empirical evidence bases for understanding the evidence dynamics of trace materials (soil, sediment, pollen, DNA, gun-shot residue, explosives etc.) for their use as intelligence and evidence.  We are also conducting research that addresses the need to develop our understanding of decision-making and the interaction of multiple variables in crime investigation and detection.  We bring these two areas together in order to be developing an evidence base to enhance our ability to interpret the analysis of forensic materials more effectively, and to generate valuable and robust intelligence and evidence.

Recent projects have included:

  • Developing automated approaches for establishing trace evidence dynamics for crime reconstruction approaches
  • Developing forensic applications of Scanning Electron Microscopy in the analysis of quartz grain surface textures and establishing complementary suites of techniques for establishing provenance of soil/sediment materials of interest to a forensic investigation.
  • Addressing the creation of empirical bases for the development of frameworks that illustrate the interaction of different types of evidence and develop probabilistic approaches for assessing the weight of evidence.
  • Establishing how contextual information influences decision making at every stage of the forensic science process and how it can impact what we ultimately understand the evidence to mean.
  • Engaging science and policy with a consideration of forensic science as a holistic process (crime scene to court).

Ruth has been the co-recipient of the Chartered Society for the Forensic Sciences' PW Allen Award for best research 3 times (2006, 2016, 2018).  Her research is regularly presented at international conferences and featured in popular media.

Teaching summary

Professor Ruth Morgan is the Director of the MSc Crime and Forensic Science, a programme that is based upon the leading research taking place at UCL in collaboration with our external collaborators.  The course uniquely addresses forensic science in the context of crime science.  The programme develops themes that cut across the entire forensic science process from the crime scene and evidence identification and collection, to the analysis of the evidence, the interpretation of intelligence and evidence, and the presentation of evidence in court.  The programme draws on expertise from a wide range of industry partners.

Ruth has convened a number of modules including ‘Presenting Evidence’, 'Crime Scene Investigation', 'The Interpretation of Forensic Evidence' and 'Case Assessment and Interpretation for Forensic Scientists' (in collaboration with Principal Forensic Services). She currently convenes two modules 'Forensic Geoscience' and 'Investigation and Detection'.  She teaches on the MSc Crime and Forensic Science, MSc Countering Organised Crime and Terrorism, MSc Crime Science. She supervises PhD, MRes and MSc thesis research. 

Ruth won a Provost's Teaching Prize in 2015.  She was also part of the group that put together the QAA benchmark statement for Forensic Science and acts as External Examiner for a number of UK Universities. 


Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ02 - Recognised by the HEA as an Associate Fellow | 2016
Hertford College Oxford
Other higher degree, MA Oxon | 2006
University of Oxford
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2006
Hertford College Oxford
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts | 2002


Ruth Morgan (MA (Oxon), D.Phil) is Professor of Crime and Forensic Science in the Department of Security and Crime Science, Vice Dean (Interdisciplinarity Entrepreneurship) in the Faculty of Engineering Sciences, and the Director of the UCL Centre for the Forensic Sciences.  The Centre facilitates a network of UCL academics from a wide range of different disciplines and departments to enable a strategic and multidisciplinary research programme in collaboration with external partners and forensic science stakeholders.

Professor Ruth Morgan is one of the World Economic Forum's Young Scientists (Class of 2019) and was the Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee for their inquiry into Forensic Science (2018-19).  She is the Senior Editor (Europe) for the journal Forensic Science International: Synergy, serves on a number of national committees, and is the Vice Chair of the London Geological Society Forensic Geoscience Group. She also contributed to the 2015 Annual Report of the Government Chief Scientific Advisor on Forensic Science. She is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council, and the World Economic Forum Steering Group for the 2020 'Top 10 Emerging Technologies'.

Ruth is a regular speaker (including a recent TED talk) and commentator on forensic science and a strong advocate for addressing the challenges faced in forensic science with problem based research that has an impact in the real world.