Jodie Ward is the Director of the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER) and an Associate Professor in the Centre for Forensic Science at the University of Technology Sydney. In addition, she is the Forensic DNA Identification Specialist for the Forensic & Analytical Science Service at NSW Health Pathology, specialising in the nuclear and mitochondrial DNA testing of compromised human remains. This unique Joint Appointment sees her lead the research, development and application of forensic human identification techniques for missing persons casework in Australia.
One of her career highlights includes being awarded a prestigious 2015 Churchill Fellowship to investigate world-leading DNA identification techniques for victims of crime, armed conflict and mass disasters. Following her Churchill Fellowship, she has devised, published and promoted a number of international best-practice recommendations for the establishment of an Australian Centre for Forensic Human Identification. This culminated in a TEDx talk last year, where she described her journey as a forensic humanitarian championing the introduction of a national DNA program to resolve Australia’s unidentified and missing person cold cases.
She is on the Board of the Missing Persons Advocacy Network charity and has been recognised as one of Science and Technology Australia’s 2017 Superstars of STEM and Australian Financial Review’s 2018 100 Women of Influence for pioneering a specialist DNA identification facility in Australia, being used nationally by police, military and government agencies to identify challenging skeletal samples.