Centre of Applied Research Technology

Bas Kokshoorn professor of Forensic Trace Dynamics

The new professorship by special appointment in Forensic Trace Dynamics has been established for a period of 5 years.

3 May 2021 16:03 | Centre for Applied Research Technology

Bas Kokshoorn of the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) has been appointed professor of Forensic Trace Dynamics by special appointment at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) with effect from 1 May. The new professorship by special appointment is a collaboration between the Faculty of Technology’s Forensic Science research programme and the NFI, where he has built a solid career in the field of DNA research. “Ongoing improvements in the ability to observe minute traces require new processes and knowledge in research and education.”

Kokshoorn brings with him 13 years of experience at the NFI , where he progressed from forensic investigator to principal scientist. In this role, he monitors the quality of research within the NFI and translates that across the breadth of the organisation. In doing so, he acts as a binding force between the diverse disciplines that make up the NFI. He continues to hold that position, which will enable him, as a professor by special appointment, to establish a new link between the NFI and education and research at the AUAS.

Kokshoorn trained as a biologist and obtained his doctorate from Leiden University on research into DNA relationships between snail species. For Kokshoorn, the move to the NFI was more logical than it might seem: “DNA research in snails and humans involves largely the same technology. But I was drawn to the NFI by the societal impact of forensic science and the opportunity to help solve crimes.”

Forensic Trace Dynamics

As a professor of Forensic Trace Dynamics by special appointment, Kokshoorn wants to gain more knowledge about the ‘behaviour’ of minimal traces that become visible through new technologies and methodologies. “We are able to detect, interpret and identify smaller and smaller traces from crime scenes, but that also has a profound impact on the work of forensic investigators.”

“On the one hand, it causes changes at the front end of the forensic process for the detectives at the crime scene who collect and store traces, and for forensic staff who process and analyse those traces. On the other hand, it raises new issues in court: what can these minute traces say about exactly what happened? Consider the spread of such minimal traces in the environment through everyday activities. And also the transfer of combinations of different types of forensic traces, such as DNA, fingerprints, glass or gunshot residue, to various surfaces. In other words, the dynamics of forensic traces. That’s what I want to investigate, as it’s still largely uncharted territory.”

The forensic investigators of tomorrow

For Kokshoorn, the AUAS is the ideal place to develop new knowledge and eventually apply it in practice. “There is a lot of energy and brainpower at the AUAS as a knowledge institution. I previously worked with AUAS doctoral student Anouk de Ronde in her research on what fingerprints can tell us about the activities that took place at a crime scene. We did this using a statistical (Bayesian) model to calculate probabilities. We can apply and further develop innovative methods like these in education, in relation to current issues in the field. Through the NFI, police forensics, or elsewhere. Tackling this together with the forensic investigators of tomorrow, I think that’s fantastic.”

More information

Please see the Forensic Science research group.