In our latest careers interview blog, Matteo Borrini tells us about how he is using 3D printing as a forensic anthropologist and about the career path that has led him into his current role.
Matteo is a Forensic Anthropologist who is also currently a Principal Lecturer and Forensic Anthropology Masters Programme Leader at Liverpool John Moores University.
About Your Education
What subject areas/qualifications did you study for?
I am a Forensic Anthropologist and I completed my studies in Italy. After a BA(Hons) with a dissertation on forensic archaeology, I obtained an MSc in Biological Anthropology and then a PhD in Biology focused on the development of guidelines and protocols for forensicanthropology.
Did you have to undertake any further training during your career in order to progress into your current role?
A forensic practitioner and an academic should never stop learning. I usually complete at least a course every year and I attend as many scientific meetings as I can to keep myself updated and to discuss with colleagues the new findings in the field.
About Your Career
Tell us a little bit about your career leading up to your current role?
I started providing consultations for the Italian State Prosecutor Office and then I became an accredited expert witness. I was also appointed as a temporary research fellow at the University of Florence, where I did my research and I started to teach as contract professor. Teaching, as well as science
dissemination, was my aim since I started my education: it is the most rewarding role. At that time, I started to get involved in public speaking events, conferences, documentaries and then on real-crime TV programmes.
Memorable experiences? When I was appointed as honorary member of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission for my service in the identification of WWII soldiers, and when I discovered a “vampire grave”. The remains belonged to a lady who was believed to be a vampire during the XVI century. She was exorcised by having a brick shoved into her mouth. I did the entire research and a documentary with the National Geographic Society on this
case. A really thrilling experience.
About Your Current Role
Briefly describe your current role, what do you do?
As Principal Lecturer and Programme leader I have to deal with both the teaching and administrative aspects of academia. I have to deliver lectures and manage the Forensic Anthropology Masters Programme. At the same time, I am still actively involved in scientific research and I offer my services as an expert witness for forensic cases.
What skills do you need for your role?
Dedication to science, curiosity, inquisitiveness and desire of sharing what you are passionate with.
What do you enjoy about your role?
Of course the expert witness role helps me to give justice to victims and their families, bringing the dead bodies back to their loved ones. And this is really touching and rewarding.
On the academic side, I really like the contact with students, the time spent with them in class, teaching the aim of our discipline. Someone said that teaching is touching a life forever: my ambition is to be a mentor for all of them, rather than a teacher.
What salary range can you expect to achieve in this role?
It is possible to check the average of academic salaries on web sites. I think that if someone wants to start this career they should be focused on all the other gratifying aspects of our job.
Do you have any further career aspirations or plans?
On the scientific side of my career, I would like to improve the science dissemination aspects. Maybe with other documentaries.
For the forensic side instead, I just want to do my job to the best of my ability. I would like to be more useful for the families of missing people, and not only for the recent cases. I would like to increase my involvement on cold cases related to the First and Second World Wars. It is very important to bring back the remains of soldiers that died years ago fighting for our freedom and countries.
About 3D Printing
What benefits does the use of 3D Printing bring to your role and/or organisation?
At Liverpool John Moores University we developed a project called Skeleton2Go that allowed us to create supporting tools for education and students’ learning process. We produced several boxes with 3D printed replicas of human bones with accompanying study guides covering different levels of learning. These boxes have been developed to be available at the library, from where students can borrow them.
Forensically, I use 3D printing to obtain a copy of a skull from CT data: I can perform a facial reconstruction of an unknown body on this replica without touching or contaminating the original remains.
How do you feel the future of your industry will benefit from 3D Printing?
3D printing could be very beneficial for Universities, especially by providing tools to support the learning experience that can be used by students even at home. This could be very useful particularly for students with disabilities and learning difficulties, or for disciplines that require a lot of hands-on such as anthropology. The availability of 3D printed replicas offers extra time to students that can be spent also for revision from home.
How can our education system best prepare our young people for job roles of the future in your field?
The best thing that we can do is training our students for the real aspects of the world of work. Even the most stressful and unpleasant ones. The new generations need to be prepared for the reality, with its responsibilities and implications. Supporting them during the learning process does not mean pushing them until they obtain the certificate they are studying for. Instead it means to provide them with all the professional and personal skills to achieve the final result: the dream job. And of course this can be achieved only if you add a very professional attitude to your skills.
What advice would you offer to students that may be interested in pursuing a career in this field?
Follow your inner desire and aspirations. Nothing is too difficult or impossible when you are supported by strong determination. Complete your learning process with Masters and PhD, try to attend as many scientific conferences as you can during this time and publish your findings in peer-reviewed journals. Scientists are not lab-mice, scientists have to be able to disseminate their research.
The CREATE Education Project would like to thank Matteo Borrini for sharing the details of his career with us. You can learn more about Matteo Borrini and Forensic Anthropology at Liverpool John Moores University at: