Professor Anna Williams
Professor of Forensic Science, Manager of the Lancashire Forensic Science Academy
School of Natural Sciences
Anna is Professor of Forensic Science and Manager of the Lancashire Forensic Science Academy. She is a forensic anthropologist with considerable casework experience with police and forensic science providers, and a research interest in forensic taphonomy and decomposition. She supervises MSc and PhD students within the School of Natural Sciences.
In her role as the Manager of the Lancashire Forensic Science Academy (LFSA), Anna oversees the running of the unique collaboration between the University of Central Lancashire and Lancashire Constabulary. This partnership affords our students unrivalled access to forensic scientists, crime scene examiners and experts, and facilitates improvement of forensic methods through research. The LFSA also provides CPD training to police forces, military and people interested in forensic science.
Anna read Archaeology and Anthropology at Oxford University (1995-98), then gained her MSc in Forensic Anthropology at Bradford University (1998-99). After working for West Yorkshire Police as a Forensic Mark Analyst (2000-01), she gained her PhD in Forensic Anthropology from Sheffield University in 2005. Anna undertook post-doctoral research at Cranfield University (2004-06), and was Lecturer in Forensic Anthropology and Head of the Centre for Forensic Anthropology Research (C-FAR) there from 2006-13. At Cranfield, she was instrumental in designing and delivering the successful MSc in Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology, and was awarded a CDS Teaching Fellowship in 2010. With the Fellowship, she created the Forensic Fieldwork Facility for undertaking decomposition experiments.
In 2013, Anna joined the University of Huddersfield as Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science, and was promoted to Principal Enterprise Fellow in 2015. There, she headed the Forensic Anthropology Research Group and ran the MSc in Forensic Science (Anthropology). She also directed the HuddersFIELD animal taphonomy facility. From 2017, she was Deputy Director of the Secure Societies Institute, and Editor in Chief of their journal, Crime, Security and Society.
Anna is passionate about science communication and public engagement. In 2011, she was the winner of the Forensic Zone of the prestigious Wellcome-Trust funded ‘I’m A Scientist’ competition, and in 2014, she was awarded a British Science Association Media Fellowship, in which she wrote many popular science articles for New Scientist. Anna is regularly asked to contribute to TV science documentaries and forensic dramas and literature. She has advised for Silent Witness, Bones and Rosewood, appeared on screen in several popular science documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel, and advised crime writers including Ann Cleeves and Michael Fowler.
Anna has considerable case work experience, and regularly undertakes consultancy work for national police forces and Kenyon International Emergency Services. She has advised the National Crime Agency and the Home Office on forensic cases. She is a member of Locate International, which allows police, students and experts to work together to crack cold cases.
- PGCert Learning, Teaching and Assessment in HE, Cranfield University, 2011
- PhD Forensic Anthropology, University of Sheffield, 2005
- MSc Forensic Anthropology, University of Bradford, 1999
- MA (Oxon) Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Oxford, 1998
- British Science Association Media Fellowship, 2014
- CDS Teaching Fellowship, Cranfield University, 2011
- Forensic anthropology
- Forensic taphonomy
- Human osteology
- Disaster Victim Identification
- Search and location techniques
- President, Archaeology and Anthropology Section, British Science Association (2017-2018)
- Executive Committee, Forensic Geoscience Group, London Geology Society (since 2016)
- Fellow, Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) (since 2011)
- Fellow, Higher Education Academy (HEA) (since 2011)
- Fellow, Institute of Civil Protection and Emergency Management (ICPEM) (since 2008)
- Professional Member, Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSoFS) (since 2009)
- Member, British Association of Forensic Anthropologists (BAFA) (since 2001), Invited Academic Advisor, 2011.
- Member, British Association for Biological Anthropologists and Osteoarchaeologists (BABAO) (since 2001), EDI Committee member, since 2018.
- Member, American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) (since 2020), Associate Member, 2010-2020.
Anna’s main research areas focus on understanding how bodies decompose in a variety of conditions, such as burial or water environments. She is currently supervising PhD research into the recovery of decomposed and skeletal remains from underwater, and the estimation of post-mortem submersion interval, as well as improving the development of fingerprints from decomposing remains. She is also interested in microbial attack on skeletal remains and how this can be used to estimate post-mortem interval. Anna has a long-standing research interest in human taphonomy facilities, and their use in advancing our understanding of human decomposition, as well as for teaching and training purposes. She has published articles and book chapters exploring the potential for a human taphonomy facility in the UK. In addition, Anna has research interests in disaster victim identification, planning for pandemics and mass burial in crisis situations, and in the search, location and recovery of human remains from clandestine deposition sites.
Use the links below to view their profiles:
- British Arts Council funding for ‘Thanatos: the scent of death’ arts collaboration, 2019
- Wellbeing provisions for Scientific Support Personnel, Police Dependants’ Trust, 2018
- Newton Fund Researcher Links Workshop Grant, British Council, 2016
- Williams, A. Rogers, C. and Cassella, J-P. (2020) Why hasn’t the UK got a Human Taphonomy Facility yet? American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Anaheim, 20th February 2020
- Procopio, N., Ghignon, S., Williams, A., Chamberlain, A., Mello, A., and Buckley, M. (2018) A Cross-disciplinary approach towards Post-Mortem interval estimation. Taphos Nomos, UCLAN, November 2018
- Williams, A. (2019) The Case for a Human Taphonomy Facility in the UK. Forensic Geology Group conference, London, December 2018
- Williams, A. (2017) The Case for a UK Body Farm. Skeletons, Stories and Social Bodies Conference, Southampton, March 2017
- J. Handke, DJ. van der Meer, G. Williams, M. Carr, N. Procopio, M. Buckley and A. Williams (2017) Bacteria as a PMI Clock? Successive bacterial colonisation of pork and its implications for forensic investigations. American Academy of Forensic Sciences, New Orleans, 2017
- Iddamalgoda, S. Swanborough, C. Soblinkas, K. Tibbett, M. and Williams, A. (2017) A Comparison of Skin Colour Change in Terrestrial and Aquatic Decomposition, and Its Potential Value as an Indicator of Post Mortem Interval. American Academy of Forensic Sciences, New Orleans, 2017
- Williams, A. Baker, J. and Williams, J. (2012) Further Femmes Fatales: Do Women Dominate Forensic Anthropology Professional Practice in the USA, Canada and the UK? American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Atlanta, 2012
- Williams, A. and Richards, M. (2011) The Effect of Cultural Cranial Deformation on Neurological Development: A Beneficial or Disadvantageous Practice? American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Chicago, 2011
- Williams, A. (2011) Femmes Fatales: Why Women Dominate the Discipline of Forensic Anthropology. American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Chicago, 2011
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