Murdoch University forensic scientist hits the international stage

d493250 Murdoch University forensic scientist Paola Magni. Picture: Jon Hewson
d493250 Murdoch University forensic scientist Paola Magni. Picture: Jon Hewson

MURDOCH University forensic science lecturer Paola Magni’s insight into how marine critters can impact crime scenes has earned her a spot on the international stage.

Dr Magni was the winner of the national final of FameLab 2019 at the State Theatre Centre on May 8.

FameLab is a science communication competition run by the Foundation for the WA Museum along with the British Council and the Cheltenham Science Festival.

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Even more impressive for the Italian-born Dr Magni, whose presentation was called Crimes, Critters and Clues, is that English is not her first language.

Dr Magni said the idea behind her presentation was that a crime scene could happen anywhere but as Earth was mostly covered by water, there was a chance humans could drown or be dumped in oceans or rivers.

“The fact we are not aquatic animals means we can die very easily in water but it’s difficult to investigate in the water because we need equipment,” she said. “You can find lots of books about forensic science and criminal investigations, but aquatic environments, there are three books in total at the moment.

“We need more research because when a case comes along, we don’t know how to get the answers.”

She will compete at the FameLab International Final, which is a part of the Cheltenham Science Festival in the United Kingdom, on June 4-6.

Dr Magni said it was an enjoyable experience to be one of the 13 finalists in the national final and she learnt a lot from the other scientists.

“FameLab is a pretty famous competition in terms of science communication but I had never applied before because I didn’t think I was good enough for something like that because English is my second language,” she said.

“I love my science and I love to communicate my science but I didn’t feel comfortable with my English skills to do that but this year is basically my last year to be considered as an early research career person.

“So I said ‘I have to give it a go’ and I did it and here we are.”