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Sarah Hainsworth - Aston University. Birmingham, , GB

Sarah Hainsworth Sarah Hainsworth

Pro-Vice Chancellor & Executive Dean | Aston University


She is the first female Executive Dean of the College of Engineering & Physical Sciences. She specializes in forensic engineering.






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Professor Sarah Hainsworth - Knife Crime -- The Thrust of the Matter Professor Sarah Hainsworth - Engineering a safer drinking glass Forensic Research at the University of Leicester




Sarah, who is Deputy Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity and Inclusion committee, is the first female Executive Dean of School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She is keen to build on the School’s reputation for encouraging women into, and advancing their careers in, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Before joining Aston University in 2017, Sarah was at the University of Leicester for almost 20 years, where latterly she was Professor of Materials and Forensic Engineering and also the University’s Head of Engineering.

Sarah was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year 2019 Honours List for her services to Engineering and Forensic Science.

Among Sarah’s many other accolades is the Andrew H. Payne Jr. Special Achievement Award 2015 from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Engineering Sciences Section in recognition of exemplary contributions in advancing forensic engineering sciences. She also received the Mechanical Engineers Tribology Bronze Medal in 1995, the Rosenhain Medal of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in 2008 and was nominated as one of the Women’s Engineering Society’s “outstanding technical women” in 2009.

Areas of Expertise (5)



Forensic Engineering


Knife Sharpness

Accomplishments (3)

Andrew H. Payne Jr. Special Achievement Award (professional)

2015 American Academy of Forensic Sciences Engineering Sciences Section

Mechanical Engineers Tribology Bronze Medal (professional)


Rosenhain Medal of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (professional)


Education (2)

University of Newcastle: BEng

University of Newcastle: PhD

Media Appearances (3)

Forensics expert returns to Richmond School to inspire students

Richmondshire Today  online


Alumna Professor Sarah Hainsworth OBE FREng was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for her services to engineering and forensic science in the 2019 New Year Honours List.

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Fidget spinners: Safety fears over children's craze

BBC News  online


They had the appearance of a "death star" or "shuriken". The items were put through testing by blades expert Professor Sarah Hainsworth. She tested the spinners by stabbing into a tomato, used as a substitute for an eye, and pork skin, used as a substitute for human skin.

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King Richard III died brutally during Battle

The Telegraph  online


"A number of injuries consistent with a dagger were identified to the cranium, jaw, cheek bones and tenth rib," said Professor Sarah Hainsworth who led the University of Leicester research.

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Articles (5)

The science and technology of vapor phase processing and modification of surfaces

Journal of Materials Research

There are many ways to modify the surface properties of materials, depending on the need.

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Forces generated in stabbing attacks: an evaluation of the utility of the mild, moderate and severe scale

International Journal of Legal Medicine volume

The commonest way of killing in the UK is by a sharp instrument. Knight reported in 1975 that it is impossible to discern with any degree of certainty the degree of force used to create a stab wound. Despite this, expert witnesses continue to approximate the degree of force used for their reports and evidence in court. It is usually subjectively categorized as mild, moderate or severe, based solely on the examination of the wound.

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Critical assessment 26: forensic metallurgy – the difficulties

Materials Science and Technology

Forensic metallurgists are asked to address failures across a wide range of materials, length-scales, and applications. This requires in-depth knowledge of metallurgical principles, manufacturing, and engineering fields. The metallurgist will be asked to determine whether or not the appropriate engineering or quality standards have been followed – and this may be the Standards that were in place at the time of manufacture, not those currently in place – and whether the failure results from use or abuse. The paper reviews how these skills have been applied to a range of historical and contemporary cases involving failure and discusses some of the issues that are important for determining the root cause of a problem. Some difficulties in current approaches are also presented.

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How taphonomic alteration affects the detection and imaging of striations in stab wounds

International Journal of Legal Medicine

Stabbing with a kitchen knife is a common method of homicide in Europe. Serrated knives may leave tool markings (striations) in tissues. Documentation of striations is necessary for their use as forensic evidence. Traditional methods (physical casting and photography) have significant limitations, and micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) has been trialled in cartilage to “virtually cast” wounds.

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Experimental study of room-temperature indentation viscoplastic ‘creep’ in zirconium

Philosophical Magazine

In this paper we have studied the mechanisms of so-called ‘indentation creep’ in a zirconium alloy. Nanoindentation was used to obtain strain rate data as the sample was indented at room temperature, at a homologous temperature below that for which creep behaviour would be expected for this material. A high value of strain rate was obtained, consistent with previous work on indentation creep. In order to elucidate the mechanism of time-dependent deformation, a load relaxation experiment was performed by uniaxial loading of a sample of the same alloy.

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