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Homepage / My Cranfield journey: Choosing a research project for my forensics career

My Cranfield journey: Choosing a research project for my forensics career


To potentially grow in your career requires sacrifices which impact everyday normal life. In my opinion, it is even harder to climb the ladder whilst developing your knowledge in your current career.

However, with the prior aspirations of becoming a competent and knowledgeable scientist, Yes, you need to take a step toward your desires. The moment to begin an MSc has also been not so accommodative, particularly with the global pandemic. But since I wanted to enrich my career and become a well-informed forensic scientist acquiring skills on diversity of forensic approaches, I therefore had to leave my home country of Tanzania in September 2020 in search of making sure I got what I had been looking for.

My story regarding my desire to study  Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology can be traced back to 2018 where I was employed at the Government Chemist Laboratory Authority in Tanzania, working as a Forensic DNA Analyst in the Directorate of Forensic science. Working with DNA analysis requires solid knowledge on the legal requirements such as courtroom skills and various forensic approaches. This is because, most forensic DNA cases end up in court. I was mainly interested in bone analysis which is a challenge in my day job in Tanzania. From my undergraduate degree, I had a good background in molecular biology and technology; nevertheless, there is a demand for highly skilled bone analysis. I had to search via google, universities offering forensic anthropology, of which an enormous number of universities came up, Cranfield was also included.

Having seen various adverts from universities, I was attracted to Cranfield University as it looked like it included more hands-on practical’s which I wanted in an MSc and complemented my desire. I was attracted to the course content as it was directly related to my current job. When I officially started attending class (virtually) I was even more excited, the module delivery was very friendly and accommodating, above all it was engaging.

Capturing images via handheld microscope, before taking them for further analysis using XRF and MALDI-TOF at the Pitt Rivers Museum

The time to select a research project title was due, I initially wanted to deal with optimization of different DNA extraction methods on skeletal remains. However, with the global pandemic restrictions, ethical approval could pose a challenge. So, just a few days before we had an analytical technique module under Dr. Fiona Brock, which quenched my thirst. In that module, one of the guest lecturers Dr. Ashley Coutu from Oxford University delivered a fantastic analytical technique (Proteomic Analysis), she actually looked at the different peptide masses between elephant and hippopotamus ivories, which in fact was also my point of interest. I therefore opted to do Proteomic analysis of Tanzanian wildlife, the project which is in progress now.

Later I came to realize, it was more fruitful in my career doing proteomic analysis than what I wanted to do, as it has some of the critical stages that I wanted to do with DNA analysis. Apart from my course experience, I’m also enjoying the off-campus life in Bedford, the place is friendly with easy access to local amenities, whilst being immersed in different cultures. I look forward to accomplishing my research project and going back home to utilize the skills learnt from highly skilled lecturers who as well have been acting as my forensic career mentors.

Suffice enough to say, Cranfield University, is home to the highest quality delivered Forensic courses.

To find out more about the MSc in Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology click here.

Daud Ngasa

Written By: Cranfield University

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