Prof. Robin Williams
Robin joined NUCFS after a long academic career as a researcher and teacher in sociology at the Universities of Cardiff, Southampton, Manchester and Durham. Robin remains a Professor Emeritus in the School of Applied Social Sciences at Durham and is a Visiting Professor in the Policy Ethics and Life Sciences (PEALS) Research Centre at Newcastle University.
His research interests include police use of forensic science in criminal investigations, the social, ethical and public policy aspects of forensic DNA databases, and the growing uses of the epistemic authority of the life sciences and biotechnology in support of social control, risk management and expert interventions in individual and collective conduct. All of this work is informed by his disciplinary background in sociology and an interest in the significance of scientific knowledge for contemporary forms of governance.
Robin has published widely on social and ethical issues in forensic genetics. His research has been funded by ESRC, EPSRC, the Home Office, the Wellcome Trust and the Nuffield Foundation. He was a member of the Nuffield Council of Bioethics Working Party on ‘The Forensic Use of Bioinformation: Ethical Issues’. He has participated in a number of international collaborations including the Harvard Workshop on ‘DNA Fingerprinting and Civil Liberties’ and the NIH funded Penn Workshops on ‘Emerging Ethical Issues in Criminal Forensic Genetics’. He has recently carried out a pilot study of the use of forensic science in support of homicide investigations and is a member of the newly formed ‘Criminal Investigation Research Network’ which comprises academics, current and former detectives, detective trainers and forensic scientists from the UK, North America, Australia and the Netherlands.
He is also the NUCFS lead investigator on a large (€8M) EU-FP7 Network of Excellence ‘Euroforgen’ which will establish a European Virtual Centre for Forensic Genetic Research. The network includes some of the leading groups in European forensic genetic research and aims to create a closer integration of existing collaborations, as well as establishing new interactions in the field of security. The main focus of NUCFS work on the Network concerns the ethical, legal and social implications of forensic genetics, but other members of the Centre also contribute directly to the scientific programme.
Robin has given a large number of conference presentations and authored a number of books, book chapters, academic papers and reports on operational and policy issues relating to the development and uses of forensic science – especially forensic genetics – in criminal investigations and prosecutions.
For a summary of Robin’s recent publications, click here.