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Dr Aaron Amankwaa

Assistant Professor

Department: Applied Sciences

Read our REF2021 impact case study here: Ensuring robust and flexible protections against the use of biometric data.

Aaron is a Research Scientist in Forensic Biometrics, Genetics and Biology. Aaron has an academic background in biochemistry and forensic biology, with research experience in forensic biology, DNA profiling and forensic DNA legislation/ policy. Aaron's academic portfolio includes leadership of the MSc Forensic Science programme at Northumbria University, Quality Lead for CSFS accreditation of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, module leadership and teaching in forensic biology, genetics and police investigations.

Through his research, Aaron has contributed oral and written evidence and reviewed policy reports on forensic biometrics for several groups and agencies including the Scottish Independent Advisory Group on Biometrics, Forensic Genetics Policy Initiative, the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, the Office of the Biometrics Commissioner and the New Zealand Law Commission. Aaron's current research in forensic science policy is focused on developing flexible and research-informed legislative frameworks and policies for the use of forensic DNA in African countries and the use of genetic genealogy databases. Aaron has also worked on Northumbria Police commissioned evaluations on out-of-court disposals.

Aaron holds a BSc in Biochemistry (2013) from KNUST, Ghana; an MSc in Forensic Science (2015) from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow (funded by the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship); and a PhD in Forensic DNA databases (2019) from Northumbria University (funded by Northumbria Research Studentship). Aaron is a Member of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSFS) and a Fellow of AdvanceHE.

Aaron Amankwaa

Aaron's research is multi- and inter-disciplinary, spanning forensic science, law, and policing, with a clear policy-impact focus. His primary research covers the following key themes:

  1. Regulation of forensic DNA & biometric databases;
  2. Persistence of body fluids;
  3. Development of online tools for teaching forensic science practical techniques (Forensic vLabs);
  4. Development and evaluation of crime reduction initiatives and tools.

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Forensic Evidence Processing in Gender-Based Violence Cases: Handbook for Criminal Justice Practitioners, Amankwaa, A., Wessels, J., McNevin, A., Langley, A., Budowle, B., Bonsu, D., Martin, D., Nsiah Amoako, E., Makasa, I., Watherston, J., Amankwa Addo, J., Heathfield, L., Brodie, N., Green, R., Otto, S., Kumar, S., Lynch, V. 2024
  • Streamlining out-of-court disposals:: Assessing the impact on reoffending and police practice, Rowe, M., Amankwaa, A., Biddle, P., Bengtsson, L. 1 Feb 2024, In: Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Developing a virtual laboratory module for forensic science degree programmes, Amankwaa, A., Gjergo, V., Hamagareb, S. 1 May 2023, In: Science & Justice
  • Distinguishing between stamping in blood from walking through blood using blood pattern analysis, Gkikoka, E., Amankwaa, A. 1 Sep 2023, In: Forensic Science International
  • Evaluating forensic DNA databases, McCartney, C., Amankwaa, A. 30 Dec 2022, Law, Practice and Politics of Forensic DNA Profiling, London, Taylor & Francis
  • Forensic DNA analysis and database governance in Ghana, Amankwaa, A., Amankwa Addo, J. 30 Dec 2022, Law, Practice and Politics of Forensic DNA Profiling , London, Taylor & Francis
  • Integrity, trustworthiness, and effectiveness: Towards an ethos for forensic genetics, Wienroth, M., Amankwaa, A., McCartney, C. 16 Aug 2022, In: Genes
  • Out of Court Disposals and Diversion, Biddle, P., Bengtsson, L., Amankwaa, A. 16 Nov 2021, An introduction to criminology, London, SAGE
  • The effectiveness of the current use of forensic DNA in criminal investigations in England and Wales, Amankwaa, A., McCartney, C. 1 Nov 2021, In: WIREs Forensic Science
  • Gaughran vs the UK and public acceptability of forensic biometrics retention, Amankwaa, A., McCartney, C. 1 May 2020, In: Science & Justice

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Organising a conference, workshop, ...: Research Handbook on Forensic Science & Criminal Justice 2024
  • Participating in a conference, workshop, ...: Scottish Biometrics Commissioner's Comparative Research Meeting 2024
  • Organising a conference, workshop, ...: Workshop on the Handbook on DNA Evidence Processing In Gender-Based Violence Cases for Criminal Justice Practitioners 2024
  • Invited talk: Forensic vLABs: Leveraging virtual labs in a post-COVID world 2023
  • Invited talk: The Development of DNA policy in Africa. 2023
  • Invited talk: Developing a Forensic DNA Legislative Framework & Policy for Africa 2023
  • Consultancy: Regulation of Forensic Biometrics Databases 2023
  • Consultancy: External Examiner 2023
  • Oral presentation: Persistence of saliva on cigarette paper 2022
  • Consultancy: Independent Review Panel on the DNA Laws of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia 2022

Inquiries are welcome on self-funded PhD projects on the above research themes. International students and professionals who are interested in pursuing postgraduate studies in Forensic Science at Northumbria University may apply for the following scholarships/fellowships if they are eligible.


Commonwealth PhD Scholarships (for least developed countries and fragile states) (3 Years PhD)

Commonwealth Split-site Scholarships (for low and middle-income countries) (12 Months Research as part of a PhD in home country)


Commonwealth Master’s Scholarships (12 Months Masters)

Chevening Scholarships (12 Months Masters)

  • Education PGCert July 01 2021
  • Law PhD December 02 2019
  • Science MSc November 12 2015
  • Biochemistry BSc (Hons) June 14 2013
  • Associate Member of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences ACSFS 2016
  • Member of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences MCSFS 2024
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy FHEA 2021

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