Jodie Ward is the Program Lead of the National DNA Program for Unidentified and Missing Persons at the Australian Federal Police (AFP); she is also Director of the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER) and an Associate Professor in the Centre for Forensic Science at the University of Technology Sydney. Her Joint Appointment supports her contribution to the research, development and application of forensic human identification techniques for unidentified and missing persons investigations in Australia.
Ward has held operational forensic roles with the New South Wales (NSW) Forensic and Analytical Science Service, NSW Police Force and AFP, and academic roles with the National Center for Forensic Studies. She obtained her BSc (Honors) and PhD in Forensic Molecular Biology from the Australian National University, and has postgraduate qualifications in management and higher education. She is a member of the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences, the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society and the International Society of Forensic Genetics, and is on the Editorial Board of the Forensic Genomics journal. As a Missing Persons Advocacy Network (MPAN) Board Member, she is dedicated to improving governance, education and support relating to the provision and comparison of forensic information obtained from families of long-term missing persons.
In 2015, Associate Professor Ward was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to investigate world-leading DNA identification techniques for missing persons and disaster victims. Following this, she devised, published and promoted international best-practice recommendations for establishing a national forensic identification program, which laid the foundation for the National DNA Program for Unidentified and Missing Persons. At the AFTER, she investigates and validates novel forensic techniques to aid the location and identification of skeletonized human remains, which she translates into improved case outcomes for the National DNA Program for Unidentified and Missing Persons. AFTER has earned a global reputation for delivering authentic capacity building training programs for forensic practitioners involved in mass disaster, counter-terrorism and humanitarian forensic operations under her leadership.