Dr Vivienne Heaton

Title: Lecturer
Phone: (+44) 01782 7 33115
Email: v.g.heaton@keele.ac.uk
Location: LJ0.18B
Contacting me: Call into my office or use e-mail contact

I was appointed as a lecturer in forensic biology and anthropology at Keele in August 2016, moving here from the University of Central Lancashire where I lectured in forensic anthropology and entomology. 

In 2004 I graduated from the University of St. Andrews with a BSc(Hons) in behavioural and environmental biology, before moving on to the University of Central Lancashire where I completed my MSc in forensic anthropology.  I returned to academia in 2010 after UCLAN offered me a studentship to carry out research in the field of forensic entomology, and in 2014 I was awarded a PhD for my work on the thermodynamics of maggot masses on decomposing remains.  

In between my studies I have worked as a chemistry technician at a sixth form college and been employed by Lancashire Constabulary in a number of different roles.  I was initially appointed to the Force Major Investigation Team, which investigates serious crime such as murder, kidnap and stranger rape, before transferring to Scientific Support where I assisted on the National Footwear Reference Collection (NFRC).  Later I was based in Contact Management, where I worked as an emergency call handler and police radio dispatcher.  I have attended numerous post-mortem examinations and assisted with both national and international casework.

My research is in the area of forensic taphonomy and entomology, which allows me to apply my undergraduate studies in environmental biology to forensic casework. 

Currently my focus is on factors influencing the decomposition process and post-mortem interval estimation, particularly for human remains recovered from water environments.  By further understanding the variables that impact on the timing and sequence of decomposition in a range of different environments and scenarios, it is possible to increase accuracy when determining time of death.  I am also engaged in research that monitors heat generation in aggregations of blow fly larvae (commonly known as maggot masses) as they feed on decomposing remains.  These localised increases in temperature are found to be significantly warmer than ambient, which is believed to influence the rate of larval development and therefore increase error when not accounted for in post-mortem interval estimates.



  • CHE-20021 Forensic Genetics
  • CHE-20044 Forensic Anthropology and Entomology
  • CHE-30011 Forensic Science Team Research Project
  • CHE-30029 Forensic Dissertation