David Grace Award

19/02/2023 | General
Catherine Shehan, David Grace Award Recipient shares her experience of the 25th Australia New Zealand Forensic Science Society (ANZFSS) International Symposium in Brisbane 2022.

As a proud recipient of the David Grace award in 2020, I was pleased to learn that my scholarship would be carried over to the Australia New Zealand Forensic Science Society (ANZFSS) 25th International Symposium in Brisbane. The opportunity to attend the symposium and meet colleagues from around Australia was a fantastic experience and an excellent introduction into the different areas of forensic science.

There was an excellent range of presenters and speakers all of whom were extremely knowledgeable in their area of expertise. This allowed for great discussions between the presenters and the audience following the presentations. I particularly enjoyed the presentation by Christina Baxter (Emerging Threats, Emerging Solutions) regarding the evolution of terrorism events and the development of emergency response capabilities. The presentation by Dr Angela Williamson ‘Preventing Future Crimes by Looking Backwards- Why Cold Cases Matter’ was also very interesting and discussed the importance of investing resources into the investigation of cold cases including the processing of DNA kits that may remain untested.

Most notably, the presentation by plenary speakers, Bruce and Denise Morcombe (The Difference We Make) was hugely impactful, highlighting the importance of forensic science in investigations and the impact of that work on the victims and their families.  It was an important reminder of the true purpose of our work and how crucial it is, as a piece in the puzzle.

From a document examination perspective, the presentations on the current validation studies for document examination techniques, presented by Carolyne Bird, Diane King and Ben Kriss were particularly valuable to me. I was very interested to hear the results of the studies as I was fortunate to be able to participate in some of the validation studies discussed in the presentations. The impact of these studies on the field of document examination will be highly beneficial, allowing examiners to access more targeted training and will greatly improve transparency of the science in the future.

The theme “Forensics: Designing the Future”, was featured heavily in many presentations and was a particular focus in the breakfast session hosted by the AFP and presented by Dr Simon Walsh and Dr Sarah Benson. Attending this discussion group along with senior members of laboratories from around Australia was incredibly valuable as a trainee document examiner. Additionally, being allowed the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and contribute to the discussion was definitely a highlight for me.

The social events were all fantastic and provided a great opportunity to speak to colleagues regarding their careers and disciplines in a different setting. The welcome reception, 80’s themed social night and the symposium dinner were all excellent, with great food and plenty of people in attendance.

I would like to thank ANZFSS Victoria and Victoria Police for supporting my award application and allowing me to attend the conference. It was an excellent experience and I encourage others to apply for the award in 2023.

Catherine Shehan

David Grace Award Recipient 2022


Applications for the David Grace Award for the have been opened for the 23rd Triennial Meeting of the International Association of Forensic Sciences in conjunction with the 26th Symposium of the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society 20 – 24 November 2023, International Convention Centre Sydney, Australia. More details can be found here.