1 April 2016

DFF-grant for DNA detective


Therese Graversen is not the first statistician to receive a postdoc grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research. But she may be the first to receive the grant from the council of Technology and Production Sciences.

Therese Graversen

Therese is a researcher in statistics. She works mainly on developing statistical methods and software for evaluating DNA evidence in court cases. She wrote her award-winning doctoral thesis on this subject at Oxford University under the supervision of Professor Steffen Lauritzen. They have since both moved to the Department of Mathematical Sciences at University of Copenhagen.

- It is highly motivating to have a very specific target audience and to feel a sincere interest in the methods and software that I develop, says Therese, who is used as a consultant for using her software in British court cases.

- However, it also means that I have to maintain a strong focus on applicability even in the more theoretical parts of my research.

- I can see that my ideas are gaining ground. A keen ambition of mine is to introduce statistical model checking as a standard procedure in court. I have developed some visualisations that make it possible to assess how well the models fit, and they are now beginning to appear in various other software solutions on the market.

Are you going to make money on your software when it is fully developed?

- Maybe I could, but so far I have made it available as Open Source.

How will you use the grant - the 1.8 million DKK?

- The grant extends my current employment with a couple of years. Also it enables me to travel more and to purchase specialised software. In particular, I will get the opportunity to invite my collaborators to Copenhagen and to visit foreign forensic institutions.

- In the autumn I will attend a research program, Probability and Statistics in Forensic Science, for a couple of months at the Newton Institute at Cambridge University. It brings together researchers to address various statistical challenges in Forensic Science.

Is there not a small matter of a birth this summer?

- Indeed, so I will be accompanied by both husband and child, says Therese with a smile.

Therese Graversen

The Danish Council for Independent Research | Technology and Production Sciences awards 16 postdoc grants to research talents in Denmark to the total sum of approximately DKK 35 million. The grants are awarded with the aim of providing younger researchers the best possible conditions for producing outstanding research results at a high international level.

Therese Graversen is employed as a postdoc at the Department of Mathematical Sciences, where she achieved her master's degree in statistics. From Oxford University she has an MSc in Applied Statistics and a Ph.D. in statistics.