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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Professor Patricia E.J. Wiltshire B.Sc. (hons), Ph.D., D.Sc.(hc), FCSFS, FRSB, FLS.

Visiting Professor in Forensic Ecology, Botany and Palynology

Professor Patricia E.J. Wiltshire's photo

Professor Patricia Wiltshire is a Visiting Professor in Forensic Ecology, Botany and Palynology within Geography and the Enviromment at the University of Southampton.

Over the last two decades, I have been developing forensic ecology, botany, and palynology. These areas of study have proved to be invaluable for the provision of intelligence and probative evidence. I am an experienced expert witness and presented evidence, under cross examination, in Crown and High Courts, Magistrate Courts, and Coroners’ Inquests in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Eire. I have worked with every police force in the UK and Ireland and am concerned with providing guidelines and protocols for best practice in various branches of forensic ecology for practitioners, as well as for the police at crime scenes, and pathologists in the mortuary. I feel it is important for every aspect of work to be of the highest standard, and aim to continue demonstrating the power of botany, zoology, and soil science in forensic science.

Professor Patricia Wiltshire was a lecturer and researcher, for a total of 34 years, at the University of London, firstly at King’s College, and later at University College. She is an ecologist, with special interests in palynology and microbiology. While at UCL, she was engaged in palaeoenvironmental reconstruction in archaeology, and realised that it was a short step from reconstructing ancient environmental scenarios to modern forensic ones. Over the last 25 years, she has concentrated on developing and establishing the disciplines of forensic ecology, botany, and palynology. In the last 10 years, she has established forensic mycology with her mycologist husband. Mycology has proved to provide robust probative evidence on many occasions.

Patricia has particular skills in locating clandestine graves, establishing the provenance of unknown materials, and post mortem interval, as well as linking objects, people, and places through botanical and mycological trace evidence. She has worked on approaching 300 criminal cases, both for the prosecution and defence of suspects, and many of these have been very high profile in the UK. She is an experienced expert witness. She has worked with every police force in the UK and Ireland, and lectures worldwide on the disciplines she has developed.

Patricia is on the editorial board of Forensic Science International, and is Editor-in-Chief for a special edition of the journal on Forensic Ecology. She has a large publication record, and continues to research, teach, and publish her work.  In 2016, she received a Simons Fellowship at Cambridge University, at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematics.

Patricia has extensive TV and radio experience and, in January 2020, was the subject of BBC Radio Fours programme “Life Scientific”  with Professor Jim Al-Khalili.


King’s College London - B.Sc. (hons) Botany

King’s College, University of Aberdeen – Ph.D.

University of Gloucestershire – D.Sc. (hc)


King’s College London (1973-1980) Research

Birkbeck College University of London (1978-1991) Part-time Lecturer

King’s College London (1980-1988) Lecturer

King’s College London (1988-1993) Hon. Lecturer

University College London (1988-1998) Senior Research Fellow

University College London (1998-2004) Senior Research Fellow & Hon. Lecturer

Forensic Alliance Ltd (2003-2004): Forensic ecologist

Freelance: Forensic Ecologist, botanist, palynologist (2004-)

Research Associate of the University of Gloucestershire (2004-2015)

Research Fellow of the University of Aberdeen (2005-)_

Research Associate of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew (2013-)

Research interests

(1) Environmental reconstruction of ancient environments through analysis of palynological sequences in sediments, buried soils, and riverine deposits (palaeoecology and archaeology).

(2) Taphonomic processes affecting palynological surface ground patterning

(3) Pollen taphonomy: factors affecting the distribution and frequency of palynomorphs on clothing, footwear, vehicles, and other items.

(4) Effects of palynological processing on the survival of fungal spores and other fungal structures that are useful in forensic examination

(5) Environmental reconstruction at the Happisburgh Early Palaeolithic site in Norfolk, using palynological analysis of submerged, marine peat deposits. This site has evidence of a human presence dating from 1,000,000 years before present. It is the earliest site of Homo brittanicus in Europe.

(6) Ecosystem approach to crime scene evaluation.

(7) Interdisciplinary contributions to trace evidence, estimation of post mortem interval, deposition times, and elimination of irrelevant locations.

(8) Evaluating testimony through physical evidence.

(9) Provision of intelligence from biological and physical particulates (trace evidence).

Research group

Palaeoenvironmental Laboratory at the University of Southampton (PLUS)

Professor Patricia E.J. Wiltshire
Building 44 University of Southampton University Road Southampton SO17 1BJ
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