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9 Last checked 25 June 2020


Dr Sophie Turfus completed a BSc Hons Genetics at the University of York (2001-2004), which involved a year’s study at York University (Canada). Her final year project involved RNA-induced silencing of genes involved in symbiotic relationships between legumes and rhizobia. She then completed an MSc in Forensic Science at King’s College London (2005), learning from top experts in diverse forensic fields (such as Pigmentum, Bond Solon, TICTAC communications, The Metropolitan Police Force, LGC and forensic science practitioners from police forces and hospitals). Her MSc project was a collaboration between Cellmark (Culham, Oxfordshire), The Metropolitan Police Force, and King’s College London, and involved the development of a DNA profiling method for the analysis of DNA obtained from fingerprint lifts collected from cold cases.

Sophie stayed at King’s College London to complete a PhD in Forensic Science at the Drug Control Centre, graduating in 2010. The project involved developing methods of urinalysis to increase the retrospective detection of incapacitating drugs suspected in drug-facilitated crime. This involved the development of sensitive ultra-high pressure liquid chromatography methods and the identification of metabolites which are eliminated from the body more slowly than the parent drug. Significant aspects of the investigation involved using both in vitro (using human liver microsomes) and in vivo (following drug administration to volunteers) methods for metabolite identification, as well as various sample preparation procedures, such as use of derivatization agents in liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to enhance sensitivity of detection. She also spent 6 months of her PhD at the Regional Toxicology Laboratory (City Hospital Birmingham), where she was involved in the routine analysis of forensic and clinical case samples. The PhD culminated in her winning a Young Scientist’s Prize for Best Published Paper at the annual TIAFT (The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists), and the John Jackson Award for best poster at LTG (London Toxicology Group), both in 2009.

From 2010 -2014, Sophie was employed at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM) in Melbourne (Australia) as a Forensic Toxicologist which involved the analysis of forensic samples (for example blood alcohol concentrations and drug semi-quantification by LC-MS/MS) and report writing. She also gained the status of “Approved Analyst” (gazetted May 2014) conducting testing and issuing tendered evidence in the form of certificates in accordance to the Road Safety Act (Vic). Her time at the VIFM also involved a secondment to the post of Senior Research Officer (2011-2013). This involved a stint as an Adjunct Researcher with Monash University where she was involved in method development and many interesting research projects involving drug detection in a number of biological matrices (such as blood, urine, hair and oral fluid).

Between 2014-2017, Sophie worked at the University of the West Indies (Mona Campus, Kingston, Jamaica) as a lecturer in toxicology. She taught on a variety of different courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, being module leader for “Toxicology”, “Pharmacology of Natural Products” (undergraduate), “Forensic Toxicology I”, “Forensic Toxicology II”, “Graduate Seminar” (postgraduate) as well as contributing to “Fundamentals of Forensic Science”, “Drug Development, Clinical Trials and Regulations”, “Forensic Entomology” and “Moot Court” (MSc-level courses). She contributed to the cross-faculty, inter-disciplinary module “Antidoping in Sports” and also developed and taught on the “Pharmacogenomics and Toxicogenomics” module. Sophie was also involved in supervising project students at both BSc and MSc level. Her research involved the investigation of supplementation habits, knowledge and perceptions of doping in sports among young athletes. She was also involved in additional professional activities such as being a regular judge at the science fair at the American International School of Kingston (AISK), presented on pharmacogenetics at the Continuing Education Seminar for Pharmacists and was a panellist in the UWI/UNESCO Philosophy Day: “Ethics as a Guide to Right Action: The Case of Doping”. During her time at UWI, Sophie was also Public Relations Officer for the Caribbean Association of Forensic Sciences, assisting with the organization of inaugural conference and session chairing. She was also a member of the organizing committee for the Faculty of Medical Sciences Annual Research Conference and a member of the Cannabis Research Group, Faculty of Medical Sciences.

Currently Sophie is working as a Lecturer in Forensic Toxicology at the University of Huddersfield on both BSc and MSc programs. She is the module leader for “Quality and Presentation of Evidence”, “Forensic Chemistry Awareness”, “Forensic Casework Practise”, “Forensic Toxicology Project” and  “Cellular and Molecular Toxicology” and contributes to many other modules, such as “Advanced Forensic Sciences”, “Advanced Biology and Toxicology” and “Forensic Investigation and Evidence Types” alongside others. She leads the Forensic Toxicology specialism on the MSc Forensic Science course and supervises project students on this course, as well as undergraduate projects. Most recent laboratory-based projects have involved the development of methods to extract and analyse drugs from bloodstains on various materials, as well as other biological matrices such as hair and dental calculus from skeletal remains (the latter co-supervised with Dr Anna Williams). Other projects have involved in vitro studies on drug metabolism, and analysis of drugs in e-liquids, dietary supplements and on banknotes. Sophie has also co-supervised students with First4Lawyers (Huddersfield) and Forensic Testing Services (Mirfield).

Sophie has also completed training with a number of external organizations, such as “Forensic Foundations Expert Witness Training”, “Understanding NATA’s ISO/IEC 17025 requirements”, “Agilent Practical Gas Chromatography Course” (in Australia), “Partnership for Clean Competition” (New York), “Anachem SPE method development workshop” and “Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) National Mass Spectrometry Summer School” (UK). She is a member of The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists (TIAFT) and the London Toxicology Group (LTG) and enjoys participating in these conferences. Sophie enjoys international collaborations with individuals from diverse backgrounds and has also assisted with programs at the ELTU (English language Teaching Unit) at the University of Leicester to speakers of other languages and has delivered teaching abroad.

Research Expertise and Interests

The detection of biomarkers arising from polyconsumption of drugs using chromatographic and mass spectrometric approaches following in vitro and in vivo approaches, a project which is being conducted by a PhD student under her supervision.


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