Ms Leisa Nichols-Drew

Job: Associate Professor Forensic Biology

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: Leicester School of Pharmacy

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: 0116 207 8891




Personal profile

Leisa Nichols-Drew is a highly experienced Forensic Scientist, University Lecturer and is a Chartered Forensic Practitioner (ChFP), with specialist expertise in the disciplines of Forensic Biology (blood pattern analysis, bodyfluids examinations, DNA processing and submissions) and Evidence Recovery (including hairs, fibres and trace particulate debris, also shoe/tool/tyre mark analysis and UV/IR imaging techniques).

Having commenced a career in forensic science in 2000, Leisa continues to undertake major crime (murder, sexual offences, armed robberies etc) casework examinations in a national forensic science laboratory to the current day, when not fulfilling lecturing commitments at DMU.

Extensive attendance experience at crime scenes and vehicle examinations, post-mortem examinations, courts, cold-case reviews and case conferences, Leisa has coordinated complex forensic laboratory examination strategies contributing to high profile investigations through the Major Crime Service within the UK Criminal Justice System and international agencies including Operations – Sacristy, Mandrill, Easel, Hawkowl, Orb, Frob, Ruby, Jigsaw, Fincham and Sumac.

Subsequently, appointed to a national group to facilitate best practice and validate new techniques, with successful completion of the UKAS Lead Assessor, Assessor (ISO 17025) and UKAS Forensic Laboratory Internal Auditor courses. Additionally, the responsibility for writing and reviewing SOPs, auditing and investigating quality issues in forensic science led to processes which are still used today.

Development, delivery, assessment and evaluation of national forensic science technical training/coaching/mentoring courses to forensic practitioners, also forensic awareness sessions to police officers, crime scene investigators, the Crown Prosecution Service and judiciary.

In 2016, Leisa successfully delivered a national project which involved the transition of a novel fingermark development and visualisation method for metal surfaces (e.g. bullet casings), from researchers to practitioners in over 30 police forces across the UK, as well as the National Crime Agency, Ministry of Defence, Interpol and US Secret Service (Forensic Science Division). This was also communicated to scientists in Europe, Kenya, Australia and New Zealand.

Consequently, Leisa has investigated other challenging surfaces for fingermark visualisation and has developed a unique method for leather surfaces. This research was disseminated at international conferences in Canada and The Netherlands. Currently, active roles in the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences include: Assessor, Link Member Representative (to encourage new members) and Conferences Committee Member.

In May 2017, Leisa coordinated a successful research funding and grant application event, which culminated in the co-facilitation of a workshop.

In 2018, Leisa was honoured to be awarded a WCMT Fellowship to investigate international approaches to knife crime to aid the UK response, upon completion of this report has led to CF Post-nominal status.

Additionally, Leisa was honoured to be a member of the 2018 CATE Spotlight Award winning team 'CrashEd'.

A personal interest is Continual Professional Development; through attendance at National and International forensic science conferences, events, workshops and training courses.

In 2019, Leisa was honoured to have been awarded a National Teacher Fellowship as well as a Research Engaged Teaching Award at DMU.

In 2020, Leisa attained the status Chartered Forensic Practitioner (ChFP) awarded by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences in Forensic Biology and is the first Forensic Scientist Examiner and University Lecturer to do this.

Forensic science has always been a lifelong passion and it remains a privilege and honour to continue working in this field.

Research group affiliations

School of Pharmacy: Forensic Science Research Group and Pedagogy Research Group

Publications and outputs

Government Paper Contribution: Silvermann, B. (Prof). (2016). Fingerprint and Fingermark Research in UK. HM Government Chief Scientist

Journal Article: Nichols-Drew, L.J., Coulston, J.L. & Hillman, A.R., (2017) ‘Hide and Seek’ Fingermark Development on Leather: Visualisation and Species Differentiation. Forensic Science International, 277. 1-257

Secondment Research Project: Transition of novel fingermark development method from researchers to practitioners (2016), University of Leicester

Research Study: Nichols-Drew, L. J. (2012). The Current UK Forensic Science Market: Opportunities for Engagement, Development, Research and Commercial Service Provision. Leicester: De Montfort University

Academic Paper: Nichols-Drew, L. J. (2013). An Alternative Employability Approach within Higher Education Forensic Science. Leicester: De Montfort University

Industry Report: Nichols-Drew, L. J. (2012). Leicestershire Police Blood Proficiency Testing Report ISO17025 Scientific Support Unit Accreditation. Leicester: Forensic Select

R&D Research Findings: The Evidence Recovery System: A Review of Research Findings (2012) Forensic Rescue and University of Teeside.

Research interests/expertise

Forensic Science: Forensic Biology, Blood Pattern Analysis, Fingermark and Shoe mark Development and Visualisation, Evidence Recovery, along with the development of new techniques/chemical reagents

Pedagogy: Case Studies and Experiential Learning, Novel Technologies and Immersive Learning, Forensic Science Employability, Forensic Science Professional Training

Areas of teaching

Forensic Biology, Blood Pattern Analysis, Fingermark and Shoe mark Development and Visualisation, Evidence Recovery, Case Studies and Experiential Learning, Novel Technologies and Immersive Learning, Forensic Science Employability and #DMUGlobal trip experiences (contributing or leading Berlin 2017 and New York 2017, 2018).


BSc (Hons) Biomedicine (1st), MSc Forensic Science and Criminal Justice (Distinction), PGCertHE (Distinction), DTLLS (Distinction)

Courses taught

BSc (Hons) Forensic Science

Honours and awards

Chartered Forensic Practitioner - Biology (ChFP)

2019 National Teacher Fellowship (NTF)

DMU 2019 Education Leadership Programme

DMU 2019 Academic Innovation Project funding

DMU Research Engaged Teaching Award 2019

2018 Churchill Fellowship (CF) - Investigating international responses to knife crime to aid the UK response

DMU Teacher Fellow 2018

HEA Spotlight CATE Award Winning Team 2018

Research Nomination: Research Impact Awards 2017, University of Leicester. Operationalizing latent fingermark visualisation on metallic surfaces. Prof A. Hillman, Dr A. Beresford-Laycock, Dr R. Sapstead, Ms J. Coulston and Ms L.J. Nichols-Drew

Best Overall Student Performance Award on MSc Forensic Science & Criminal Justice, University of Leicester, July 2017

Nominated for Vice Chancellor Distinguished Teaching Awards, De Montfort University by students: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

Best Performing First Year Student on MSc Forensic Science & Criminal Justice, University of Leicester, July 2015

Appointed External Examiner at University of Bradford: BSc and MSc Forensic Science

External Assessor - Validation FdSc and BSc Forensic Science - University of West London

Appointed as Journal Reviewer for peer reviewed publication of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences: Science and Justice, January 2017

Appointed Conferences Events Committee member for Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, 2016

Demonstrated fingermark development & imaging to Kenya visitors (investigating wildlife crime offences), May 2016

Interviewed by Press Association ‘A day in the life of a Forensic Scientist’ in December 2015

Appointed Link Representative for Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences in November 2015

Demonstrated forensic science to HRH Duke of Gloucester in June 2015

Appointed a PEAC Assessor for Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences in January 2015

Appointed World Skills Forensic Science National Judge, April 2014

Appointed National Science Learning Centre Forensic Science Education Consultant, March 2012

Membership of external committees

National Teacher Fellow Committee 'Friend'

CATE Committee Member

Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSoFS) Link Members

Membership of professional associations and societies

Higher Education Academy – Senior Fellow (SFHEA)

Institute For Training and Occupational Learning (ITOL) Member (MITOL)

Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences – Chartered Forensic Practitioner (ChFP)

The British Institute for Learning and Development (The BILD) – Associate (ABILD)

British Academy of Forensic Sciences (BAFS) – Member

British Institute Criminology – Member

British Association for Human Identification (BAHID) – Member

International Association of Blood Pattern Analysts (IABPA) – Associate Member

International Association of Identification (IAI) European Division – Member

Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society - Member

Canadian Society of Forensic Sciences - Member

Society of Leather Technology Chemists - Member

Professional licences and certificates

[Chartered Forensic Practitioner - Biology (ChFP) April 2020 Add Professional licences and certificates information here] 

e.g Licence obtained, certifying institute, not commercially sensitive information

Consultancy work

Forensic Science: casework examinations, quality/auditing/accreditation, laboratory design, training delivery. Available for consultancy opportunities.

  • Forensic Select
  • Forensic Rescue
  • Foster+Freeman
  • Kings College London
  • Leicestershire Police
  • University of Leicester

Externally funded research grants information

Knife Crime: A Forensic Scientist's Perspective, Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (April 2018-March 2019). Lead Researcher Role. Collaborators include: Leicestershire Police, Cellmark Forensics

Internally funded research project information

DMU 2019 Research Engaged Teaching Award

Academic Innovation Project Funding

Case studies

Research Impact Nomination - Translation of Novel Fingermark Development Methodology (Galvanic Silver Deposition) from researchers to practitioners (2017).

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