Meticulously analyzed forensic evidence is a critical component to solving crimes; and understanding how to convey its weight in a criminal trial carries further significance in determining justice. Yet, few people specialize in both forensic science and law. Cecilia Hagemen, PhD, Assistant Professor of Forensic Science in the Faculty of Science, is a Criminal Lawyer and Forensic Scientist in the areas of forensic DNA analysis, bloodstain pattern analysis, serology, and body fluid identification. She has served as an expert forensic witness on more than 130 criminal cases for jury and non-jury trials in the Superior Court Justice of Ontario, trials and preliminary inquiries in the Ontario Court of Justice, and inquiries in Coroner’s Court during her career.
Dr. Hagemen spent 20 years as the Assistant Section Head of Biology in the Centre of Forensic Sciences with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services in Toronto, prepping scientists to perform the role of expert witness and assessing their role in court. First appointed to UOIT in 2007, Dr. Hageman returned to the field in 2009, and served as a Sessional and Adjunct Professor until 2013 before resuming her tenure-track position. She is also an Associate Graduate Faculty member and her research aims to understand how scientific evidence is used in criminal court proceedings. Forensic Science students have the benefit of her practical, real-world expertise.
Her own interests in science and law intersected early on and culminated in a Bachelor of Science in Honours Genetics from the Faculty of Science, a Bachelor of Laws from the Faculty of Law, and a Doctorate in Plant Sciences from the Faculty of Science, all at the University of Western Ontario. Subsequently, she received her Bar Admission from the Law Society of Upper Canada, and later earned her Master of Laws in Criminal Law from Osgoode Hall at York University.
She serves on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science, and is an Associate Member of the Law Society of Upper Canada. Highly sought after for her forensic expertise, Dr. Hageman has participated in three television productions involving cases from the Centre of Forensic Sciences, and she co-authored the DNA Handbook. Passionate about aiding those wrongly convicted, she assists the student-led Innocence Project at York University, and works with the Toronto-based Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, to overturn unjust convictions.
Industry Expertise (3)
Areas of Expertise (5)
Board of Directors, Canadian Society of Forensic Science (professional)
The Canadian Society of Forensic Science (CSFS) is a non-profit professional organization incorporated to maintain professional standards, and to promote the study and enhance the stature of forensic science.
Reporting Scientist, Wyndham Forensic Group (professional)
Dr. Hageman conducts and oversees forensic scientific testing and examinations, and provides her expertise to the courts, lawyers and investigators. She also co-ordinates collaborative research projects in which her UOIT students can gain real-world forensic experience.
Co-Author, DNA Handbook (professional)
The 2nd Edition DNA Handbook gives lawyers the scientific foundation they need to effectively represent clients, communicate knowledgeably with forensic scientists, and handle DNA evidence according to the evidence law.
York University, Osgoode Hall: LLM, Criminal Law 2009
Ryerson University: Certificate, Public Administration 1997
Law Society of Upper Canada: Certification, Bar Admission Course 1991
University of Western Ontario: LLB, Law 1989
University of Western Ontario: PhD, Plant Sciences 1989
University of Western Ontario: BSc, Genetics 1981
- Canadian Society of Forensic Science
- Law Society of Upper Canada
- International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts
Media Appearances (4)
Not so fast with that rapid DNA
Canadian Lawyer online
The impact is perhaps less dramatic, but a high-tech, rapid DNA device promises to turn DNA testing — a process that often takes weeks or months from the point of extraction, mailing, receiving, inventory, and analysis — into a fully automated, hands-free procedure that wraps in less than two hours. “The idea with rapid DNA is to do what’s already done in the laboratories, but instead of sending the sample to the lab, do it right at booking [in police stations] or right at a travelling laboratory,” says Cecilia Hageman, professor of forensic science at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. “This says we’re going to bypass the laboratory; we’re just going to put the sample in, have the profile spit out.”
Why it’s so hard to keep bad forensics out of the courtroom
The Toronto Star online
Cecilia Hageman, a professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, testified in more than 100 criminal cases during the roughly 20 years she spent working as a forensic scientist at the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto.
She said she is “sick and tired” of DNA evidence being upheld as “the gold standard of forensics” because the condition of a sample can skew the outcome, and there can be different interpretations of the results.
When fact trumps crime fiction
The Toronto Star online
“I think that (authors) should be up on what the labs are doing now,” says Cecilia Hageman, an assistant professor in the forensic science program at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and former forensic biologist with the Centre of Forensic Sciences. “What was impossible yesterday is going to be possible today,” she says.
Hageman also says authors should get their research from reliable sources. She suggests attending court to hear testimony from forensic scientists, pathologists and police crime scene investigators.
Blood, fingerprints all in a day’s work at UOIT crime scene house
Durham Region online
Dr. Cecilia Hageman, an assistant forensic science professor at UOIT, looks at the macabre mess and pronounces it a “very classic pattern.”
“Blood can tell you lots of things,” she says. “Most of the time it tells you DNA profiles and you’re able to make comparisons. But sometimes the question you try to answer is not who, but what happened?”
Event Appearances (5)
Against All Odds – Dealing with DNA Evidence
Forensic Science and Criminal Law Law Society of Upper Canada, Toronto, Ontario
Getting Ready for the Forensic Biology Laboratory of the Future
Graduate Student Research Conference UOIT, Oshawa, Ontario
What is the Science of DNA? Where Are We in 2012?
Canadian Symposia on DNA Forensic Evidence Osgoode Hall Law School, York Univeristy, Toronto, Ontario
Avoiding Misunderstandings and Staying Within Your Area of Expertise
National Expert Witness Academy The Advocates Society, Toronto, Ontario
Expert Witness Workshop
Canadian Society of Forensic Science, Annual Conference Toronto, Ontario