Image of Dr Nicholas Dawnay

Dr Nicholas Dawnay

Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences

Faculty of Science

My career to date has focussed on the development and characterisation of novel biotechnology, innovative assays and products for use in the field of forensic science. My research is multidisciplinary and covers most areas of forensic DNA testing including human and non-human identity testing, wildlife forensics and food authentication. Many of the techniques and methods I have developed are currently used by government and industry scientists at a National and International level. I am currently employed at LJMU, where I split my time between research and teaching.

I am currently supervising four PhD students in the following research areas.
1) Optimising the collection and recovery of human fingerprints and human trace DNA from illegally trafficked wildlife species. PhD candidate Alex Thomas working in collaboration with London Zoo and Edinburgh University.
2) Optimising the collection and recovery of canine DNA from worried livestock. PhD candidate Paul Riley working in collaboration with North Wales Police.
3) Developing sample screening strategies to support the provision of forensic DNA services in Gibraltar. PhD candidate Anabella De La Chica working in collaboration with Gibraltar Police and Gibraltar Health Authority.
4) Developing forensic tools to help support freshwater pearl mussel investigations in the United Kingdom. PhD candidate Matthew Lewis working in collaboration with University of the Highlands and Islands.

I am the module leader on the following three modules.
5104FSBMOL - Molecular Forensics on the Forensic Science course
7104FSBMOL - Bioanalytical Techniques on the Forensic Bioscience course
7107FSBMOL - Wildlife Forensic Science on the Forensic Bioscience course

Degrees

2003, Bangor University, United Kingdom, MSc Ecology
2002, Bangor University, United Kingdom, BSc
Bangor University, United Kingdom, PhD

Academic appointments

Senior Lecturer, LJMU, 2015 - present

Postgraduate training

Method Validation Course, United Kingdom, LGC, ? - present
Design of Experiment Course, United Kingdom, LGC, ? - present

Highlighted publications

Dawnay N, Sheppard K. 2023. From crime scene to courtroom: A review of the current bioanalytical evidence workflows used in rape and sexual assault investigations in the United Kingdom. Science and Justice, 63 :206-228 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Masters A, Ogden R, Wetton J, Dawnay N. 2019. Defining end user requirements for a field-based molecular detection system for wildlife forensic investigations Forensic Science International, 301 :231-239 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Dawnay NM, Flamson R, Hall M, Steadman D. 2018. Impact of sample degradation and inhibition on field-based DNA identification of human remains Forensic Science International: Genetics, 37 :46-53 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Dawnay N, Ogden R, Thorpe RS, Pope LC, Dawson DA, McEwing R. 2008. A forensic STR profiling system for the Eurasian badger: A framework for developing profiling systems for wildlife species FORENSIC SCIENCE INTERNATIONAL-GENETICS, 2 :47-53 DOI Author Url Publisher Url

Dawnay N, Ogden R, McEwing R, Carvalho GR, Thorpe RS. 2007. Validation of the barcoding gene COI for use in forensic genetic species identification FORENSIC SCIENCE INTERNATIONAL, 173 :1-6 DOI Author Url Publisher Url

Journal article

Lewis M, Lainé K, Dawnay L, Lamont D, Scott K, Mariani S, Hӓnfling B, Dawnay N. 2024. The forensic potential of environmental DNA (eDNA) in freshwater wildlife crime investigations: From research to application Science and Justice, 64 :443-454 DOI Author Url Publisher Url

Thomas A, Gibson L, McColl S, Rae R, Ogden R, Dawnay N. 2023. What is it vs Who did it? A review of the lack of human focused forensic evidence in the context of wildlife crime Forensic Science International: Animals and Environments, 4 DOI Publisher Url Public Url

Dawnay N, Sheppard K. 2023. From crime scene to courtroom: A review of the current bioanalytical evidence workflows used in rape and sexual assault investigations in the United Kingdom. Science and Justice, 63 :206-228 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Morrison J, McColl S, Louhelainen J, Sheppard K, May A, Girdland Flink EL, Watts G, Dawnay N. 2020. Assessing the performance of quantity and quality metrics using the QIAGEN Investigator® Quantiplex® Pro RGQ kit Science and Justice, 60 :388-397 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

George KP, Masters A, Dawnay N. 2019. Development of HyBeacon® probes for the forensic detection of Panthera, rhinoceros, and pangolin species. Molecular and Cellular Probes, DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Masters A, Ogden R, Wetton J, Dawnay N. 2019. Defining end user requirements for a field-based molecular detection system for wildlife forensic investigations Forensic Science International, 301 :231-239 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Dawnay NM, Flamson R, Hall M, Steadman D. 2018. Impact of sample degradation and inhibition on field-based DNA identification of human remains Forensic Science International: Genetics, 37 :46-53 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Morrison J, Watts G, Hobbs G, Dawnay N. 2018. Field-based detection of biological samples for forensic analysis: Established techniques, novel tools, and future innovations Forensic Science International, 285 :147-160 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Dawnay L, Flamson R, Dawnay N. 2018. Expanded and mega-plex STR panels as a tool for presumptive population assignment Forensic Science and Criminology, 3 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Stafford-Allen B, Dawnay N, Hanson EK, Ball G, Gupta A, Blackman S, French DJ, Duxbury N, Ballantyne J, Wells S. 2017. Development of HyBeacon® probes for specific mRNA detection using body fluids as a model system. Molecular and Cellular Probes, DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Dawnay N, Duxbury N, Hughes R, Court DS. 2016. Species detection using HyBeacon® probe technology: Working towards rapid onsite testing in non-human forensic and food authentication applications Forensic Science International: Genetics, 20 :103-111 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Blackman S, Dawnay N, Ball G, Stafford-Allen B, Tribble N, Rendell P, Neary K, Hanson EK, Ballantyne J, Kallifatidis B, Mendel J, Mills DK, Wells S. 2015. Developmental validation of the ParaDNA(®) Intelligence System-A novel approach to DNA profiling. Forensic Science International: Genetics, 17 :137-148 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Donachie GE, Dawnay N, Ahmed R, Naif S, Duxbury NJ, Tribble ND. 2015. Assessing the impact of common forensic presumptive tests on the ability to obtain results using a novel rapid DNA platform. Forensic Science International: Genetics, 17 :87-90 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Tribble ND, Miller JA, Dawnay N, Duxbury NJ. 2015. Applicability of the ParaDNA(®) Screening System to Seminal Samples. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 60 :690-692 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Ball G, Dawnay N, Stafford-Allen B, Panasiuk M, Rendell P, Blackman S, Duxbury N, Wells S. 2015. Concordance study between the ParaDNA® Intelligence Test, a rapid DNA profiling assay, and a conventional STR typing kit (AmpFlSTR® SGM Plus®). Forensic Science International: Genetics, 16 :48-51 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Dawnay N, Ahmed R, Naif S. 2014. The ParaDNA® Screening System - a case study in bringing forensic R&D to market. Science and Justice, 54 :481-486 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Dawnay N, Stafford-Allen B, Moore D, Blackman S, Rendell P, Hanson EK, Ballantyne J, Kallifatidis B, Mendel J, Mills DK, Nagy R, Wells S. 2014. Developmental Validation of the ParaDNA (R) Screening System - A presumptive test for the detection of DNA on forensic evidence items Forensic Science International: Genetics, 11 :73-79 DOI Author Url Publisher Url

Dawnay N, Dawnay L, Hughes RN, Cove R, Taylor MI. 2011. Substantial genetic structure among stocked and native populations of the European grayling (Thymallus thymallus, Salmonidae) in the United Kingdom CONSERVATION GENETICS, 12 :731-744 DOI Author Url Publisher Url

Ogden R, Dawnay N, McEwing R. 2009. Wildlife DNA forensics - Bridging the gap between conservation genetics and law enforcement Endangered Species Research, 9 :179-195 DOI Publisher Url

Dawnay N, Ogden R, Wetton JH, Thorpe RS, McEwing R. 2009. Genetic data from 28 STR loci for forensic individual identification and parentage analyses in 6 bird of prey species FORENSIC SCIENCE INTERNATIONAL-GENETICS, 3 :E63-E69 DOI Author Url Publisher Url

Ogden R, Dawnay N, McEwing R. 2008. Development of STR profiling systems for individual identification in wildlife: A case study of the Eurasian badger, Meles meles Forensic Science International: Genetics Supplement Series, 1 :612-613 DOI Publisher Url

Dawnay N, McEwing R, Thorpe RS, Ogden R. 2008. Preliminary data suggests genetic distinctiveness of gyr and saker falcons CONSERVATION GENETICS, 9 :703-707 DOI Author Url Publisher Url

Dawnay N, Ogden R, Thorpe RS, Pope LC, Dawson DA, McEwing R. 2008. A forensic STR profiling system for the Eurasian badger: A framework for developing profiling systems for wildlife species FORENSIC SCIENCE INTERNATIONAL-GENETICS, 2 :47-53 DOI Author Url Publisher Url

Dawnay N, Ogden R, McEwing R, Carvalho GR, Thorpe RS. 2007. Validation of the barcoding gene COI for use in forensic genetic species identification FORENSIC SCIENCE INTERNATIONAL, 173 :1-6 DOI Author Url Publisher Url

Dingemanse NJ, Wright J, Kazem AJN, Thomas DK, Hickling R, Dawnay N. 2007. Behavioural syndromes differ predictably between 12 populations of three-spined stickleback JOURNAL OF ANIMAL ECOLOGY, 76 :1128-1138 DOI Author Url Publisher Url

Walling CA, Dawnay N, Kazem AJN, Wright J. 2004. Predator inspection behaviour in three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus): body size, local predation pressure and cooperation BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY, 56 :164-170 DOI Author Url Publisher Url

Walling CA, Dawnay N, Kazem AJN, Hickling R, Wright J. 2003. Do competing males cooperate? Familiarity and its effect on cooperation during predator inspection in male three‐spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) Journal of Fish Biology, 63 :243-244 DOI Publisher Url

Internet publication

Ballantyne J, Hanson E, Mills D, Kallifatidis B, Mendel J, Dawnay N, Nagy R. 2013. DNA First: Quick screening systems can help select the most appropriate forensic samples for full DNA analysis Publisher Url

Research Grants Awarded:

Department of Education Scholarship - Government of Gibraltar -, Development and Assessment of Evidence Screening Strategies to Support the Provision of Forensic Services in Gibraltar., Anabella De La Chica, Jason Birkett, Grant value (£): £36,750, Duration of research project: 4 years. 2022

LJMU-VC Bicentenary PhD Scholarship, Development and application of forensic tools to support the conservation of endangered freshwater pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera) in the United Kingdom., Matthew Lewis, Stefano Mariani, Kirstie Scott, Grant value (£): ~£70,000, Duration of research project: 4 years. 2022

DEFRA, Optimising the collection of canine DNA from worried livestock for forensic identity testing., Grant value (£): £14000, Duration of research project: 12 Months. 2022

LJMU-VC PhD Scholarship Application 2020, Strengthening the wildlife forensic science tool-kit through the adoption of human specific approaches to identification., Alex Thomas, Louise Gibson, Rob Ogden, Robbie Rae, Grant value (£): £~70,000, Duration of research project: 4 years. 2020

LJMU Strategic Support of (Early Career Researchers) ECR in Faculty of Science PhD Studentships 2016/17, Development of a novel approach for DNA sequence amplification and detection using synthetic gene-networks, Giles Watts, Glyn Hobbs, Grant value (£): ~£70,000, Duration of research project: four years. 2017

Peoples Trust for Endangered Species, Development of HyBeacon® probes for the forensic detection of Panthera, rhinoceros, and pangolin species, Alex Masters, Grant value (£): £5000, Duration of research project: 6 months. 2017

External PGR Supervision - completed students:

Kings College London, MSc, The Effect of mRNA Amplicon Length on Direct RT-PCR Efficiency of Inhibited and Degraded Samples. 2015

Kings College London, MSc, The investigation of SNPs in forensically relevant body fluid-specific mRNA markers and their impact on PCR efficiency and melt curve analysis. 2015

Kings College London, MSc, The development and application of field portable species identification assays for non-human forensics and food authentication applications. 2014

Award:

Nominated for outstanding forensic scientist award (2014) at LGC.. 2014

Winner Best Presentation at Bangor Winter Conference. 2008

Media Coverage:

Co-authored article in Forensic Magazine

External collaboration:

Kings College London, Dr Barbara Daniel Dr Denise Syndercombe Court.

Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Dr Rob Ogden Dr Ross McEwing.

Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), Dr Lucy Webber.

Industrial connections:

LGC, ParaDNA Development Team.

LGC, Research and Innovation Team.

Membership of professional bodies:

Member, Forensic Science Society.

Member, International Society of Forensic Genetics.

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