Centre of Applied Research Technology

Forensic Trace Dynamics

From gunshot residue and minute traces of DNA to minuscule particles of glass or fibres. Thanks to new methods of analysis, it is now possible to detect even the smallest traces left behind at a crime scene or carried away by the suspect. What can this tiny, often hard-to-detect trace evidence tell us about the precise details of an event? This is the central question of the research being conducted within the Forensic Trace Dynamics research group.

More and more often, the parties involved in criminal investigations are asking questions about the significance of the trace evidence that is found. For example: how and when was it formed? And why is trace evidence absent in some cases? These questions are relevant in an early stage of investigations, when the police and Public Prosecution Service decide which scenarios merit further investigation. But they are also relevant later in the process, such as when the court must decide on the significance of forensic trace evidence when assessing whether the suspect is guilty of the crime. Providing answers to such questions requires knowledge of the dynamics of these traces.

Other strategies and requirements

The emergence of methods for analysing minute traces also has implications for the work done by Police Forensic Investigators. For example, knowledge of how traces ‘behave’ can lead to new techniques and strategies for finding and collecting samples of trace evidence. But it can also yield other requirements for how trace-bearing material is packaged and transported, as well as how the work procedure is documented. After all, the dynamics of traces do not end once the crime has been committed. Traces can still be added, moved or erased after the fact. Knowledge of the investigative process and its refinement is therefore crucial to answer questions about the actions that created the traces.

The Forensic Trace Dynamics research group at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) explores what forensic traces can tell us about past actions. The Police, the Public Prosecution Service, lawyers and the courts can all use the resulting insights to make the best possible decisions.

The professor

Bas Kokshoorn is a Principal Scientist at the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) and a forensic expert in the field of human biological traces. He is also a professor by special appointment at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. Kokshoorn integrates knowledge of forensic case studies, with which he has extensive experience, with research and education.


Students have the opportunity to participate in research in a variety of projects within Forensic Trace Dynamics, for instance through their final internships. Together with the researchers from the research group, they develop a firm knowledge base in terms of the dynamics of forensic traces. Collaboration takes place particularly in the third and fourth years of the program, in the so-called graduation labs, where students graduate in clusters around specific research questions. The research group also provides education in the form of lectures and seminars as part of the curriculum of the Forensic Science programme.


The Forensic Trace Dynamics research group addresses the entire criminal justice chain – police in the lab and on the street, the Public Prosecution Service, and Magistrates. The Netherlands Forensic Institute, the Police Academy and other knowledge institutions are key partners. The research group is part of the Co van Ledden Hulsebosch Center (CLHC) . The CLHC is an interdisciplinary center of expertise for forensic and medical-scientific research in Amsterdam.

Published by  Centre for Applied Research Technology 23 November 2023

  dr. B. Kokshoorn (Bas)

Professor Forensic Trace Dynamics

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