Denice Higgins

Dr Denice Higgins

Forensic odontologist

Adelaide Dental School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Dr Denice Higgins
University of Adelaide, Adelaide
Histology, Evolutionary Biology, Criminal Law
BDS GDipForOdont PhD.

Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD)

Forensic odontology unit University of Adelaide

Dr Higgins has been a practicing dentist for around 30 years and has been working at Strathalbyn Dental Care since 2006.She is a registered specialist forensic odontologist and provides professional services to Australian policing and coronial agencies.

She has a Graduate Diploma in Forensic Odontology and PhD in Forensic Biology.

My research interests are in the areas of forensic science, human identification, craniofacial biology and forensic odontology. I have a Bachelor Degree in Dentistry, a Graduate Diploma in Forensic Odontology and a Doctorate in Forensic Biology. I am currently the Director of the Forensic Odontology Unit at the University of Adelaide and undertake forensic odontology casework for SAPOL and the SA Coroner. I also undertake research in the fields of forensic biology and forensic odontology and Coordinate a Graduate Diploma in Forensic Odontology Program and the Honours in Dental Science Program. I have publish a number of peer reviewed scientific papers and book chapter and have presented a international conferences.  

Research Project 1 

Title: Ultra violet fluorescence and radiopacity of various tooth coloured dental materials - implications for detection in the process of dental identification of deceased remains
Project description: The advent of improved dental materials and techniques is leading to the provision of dental restorations that are increasingly difficult to detect. When examining a deceased individual who is decomposed and/or incinerated this is even more difficult. To assist in detection forensic odontologist frequently use UV light and radiographs, however different materials react differently and may still not be easy to detect. This project aims to examine a range of materials available on the market and compare the ease of identification using these techniques and to explore variables which may influence their reaction to irradiation such as shade and thickness of restoration.

Projects available for:l Honours / Graduate Diploma in Forensic Odontology

Location: Helen Mayo Building

Research project start: Semester 2

Special requirements: Nil

Research Project  2

Title: Radiographic anatomical study of dental and skeletal features present on dental radiographs to assist human identification
Project description: This study aims to determine the rate of occurrence of specific dental and oral anatomical features visible on dental radiographs. Dental feature comparison and interpretation of concordance between individuals has long been recognised as a scientifically valid method of human identification. Dental identification is performed by comparison of antemortem and postmortem dental data in instances of mass casualty (Disaster Victim Identification), missing persons cases and for those individuals who cannot be identified by more traditional methods, such as visual identification. The increase in preventative dentistry has led to a decrease in restorations which are traditionally utilised in comparative matching for forensic identification of victims. Fortunately, forensic odontologists also compare morphological anatomical features to bring a result. In cases where the crowns of the teeth have been lost due to severe incineration of victims in bushfires, automobile accidents and some dwelling fires, this method of identification using radiographs becomes particularly relevant. Morphological features include the position, shape, spacing and angulation of roots, multiple roots, anomalies such as unusually shaped sinuses, enlarged foramen, unusual bone thickening and bony pathology such as cysts.

Projects available for:l Honours / Graduate Diploma in Forensic Odontology

Location: Helen Mayo Building

Research project start: Semester 2

Special requirements: Nil

I currently teach Forensic Odontology to Graduate Diploma and undergraduate students and law and ethics as they pertain to Dentistry to undergraduate students. I also supervise multiple postgraduate research students

    Expand
  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 Co-Supervisor Forensic DNA Recovery and Amplification from Metal and Metal-coated Surfaces Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Dan Osei Mensah Bonsu
    2019 Principal Supervisor Validation study in forensic odontology - Accuracy of radiographic matching when used in conjunction with superimposition Master of Philosophy (Dentistry) Master Part Time Qi Jun Zhou
    2017 Principal Supervisor Dental Identification by Pattern Matching - Variation and Reliability of Techniques Master of Philosophy (Dentistry) Master Part Time Dr Catherine Alexandra Sims
    2017 Principal Supervisor Retrieving viable DNA samples from deferentially preserved remains for the purpose of identification Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Meghan Raechel McKinnon
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2016 - 2017 Co-Supervisor Increasing the forensic relevance of oral health records - development and evaluation of online education for the dental professional Master of Philosophy (Dentistry) Master Part Time Ms Lauren Stow
    2015 - 2019 Co-Supervisor New Forensic DNA Profiling Techniques for Human Identification Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Felicia Bardan
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2018 - ongoing Principal Supervisor Significance of anodontia and hypodontia in forensic human identification. The University of Adelaide Graduate Diploma in Forensic Odontology Other Part Time Ioana Corfield
    2018 - ongoing Principal Supervisor Digital superimposition of 3-Dimensional dental scans for forensic purposes The University of Adelaide Graduate Diploma in Forensic odontology Other Part Time Harry Perkins
    2018 - ongoing Principal Supervisor Comparison of Dental charting from a post mortem computed tomographical scan (PMCT) with dental charting obtained via traditional, accepted methods: Implications for forensic human identification The University of Adelaide Graduate Diploma in Forensic Odontology Other Full Time Selina Leow
    2010 - 2011 Co-Supervisor Validation of a laser scanner methodology The University of Adelaide Graduate Diploma in Forensic Odontology Other Full Time Astiti Handayani
    Expand
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2018 - ongoing Board Member The University of Adelaide Dental School Program Board The University of Adelaide Australia
    2018 - ongoing Member The University of Adelaide Dental School Research Committee The University of Adelaide Australia
    2018 - ongoing Member Australia and New Zealand Forensic Science Society South Australian Branch Australia and New Zealand Forensic Science Society Australia
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2015 - ongoing Member American Society of Forensic Odontology
    2015 - ongoing Member International Society of Forensic Genetics Australia
    2006 - ongoing Representative Australia and New Zealand Forensic Science Society Australia
    2006 - ongoing Vice-President Australian Society of Forensic Odontology Australia
    1986 - ongoing Member Australian Dental Association Australia
  • Consulting/Advisories

    Date Institution Department Organisation Type Country
    2015 - ongoing National Institute of Forensic sciences Scientific research Australia
  • Position: Forensic odontologist
  • Phone: 83136292
  • Email: denice.higgins@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 4385
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Helen Mayo South, floor S3
  • Room: S3 07
  • Org Unit: Dental School Administration

Connect With Me
External Profiles