From diamonds to dismemberment

Professor Sarah Hainsworth
Professor Sarah Hainsworth

7 November 2017 

  • How a university academic got to unearth centuries-old mysteries about a famous royal
  • Reserve your free place herefor the inaugural lecture of Aston University’s newest Executive Dean

Aston University’s first female Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of its School of Engineering and Applied Science will be showcasing her research journey for her inaugural lecture on 21 November.

Sarah Hainsworth will take the audience From Diamonds to Dismemberment as she works her way from her early career research on the control of the atomic structure and the mechanical properties of diamond-like carbon coatings to reduce friction in engineering applications… through to investigating the force used in stabbing attacks and on to the analysis of King Richard III’s skeleton unearthed in Leicester in 2012.   

Sarah, who joined Aston University this term, said: “Engineers work across length scales from the atomic to kilometres. My research career started at the bottom of this scale; working on the control of the atomic structure and mechanical properties of diamond-like carbon coatings used to reduce friction and wear in engineering applications.

“My most recent research has been looking at features a million times longer, analysing tool marks on bone and understanding the cutting of biomaterials. This research is used to investigate the forces involved in stabbing and led to my investigating the weapon marks on the skeleton of Richard III.”

Sarah’s research interests include forensic engineering and she is a leading forensic science expert on stabbing, dismemberment and knife sharpness, providing reports to police forces across the UK. It was her expertise that helped to establish the manner of King Richard III’s death – and which blow and weapon killed him - through analysing wound marks found on his remains.  

An elected fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering – considered one of the highest national honours an engineer can receive – Sarah is a successful academic leader with demonstrable impact and quality as both a researcher and a teacher.

She is also a passionate advocate of women in engineering and is Deputy Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity and Inclusion committee.

Before joining Aston University, 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.

Members of the public can attend her inaugural lecture on Tuesday 21 November in Aston University’s Main Building, Aston Triangle, Birmingham, B4 7ET, free of charge. The lecture takes place from 18.30 to 19.30, followed by the opportunity to network over drinks.  

Places are on a first come, first served basis so to reserve a free place, please click here.


Notes to the editor

Professor Sarah Hainsworth is available for interview on the contents of her lecture. To make arrangements, contact the press office on the details below.

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established research-led university known for its world-class teaching quality, and strong links to business and the professions. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston has been a leading university for graduate employment success for over 25 years and our students do extremely well in securing top jobs and careers.  Our strong relationships with industry partners mean we understand the needs of employers, which is why we are also ranked in the top 20 for graduate employability.

For media queries relating to this release, call Susi Turner, Press & PR Officer, on 0121 204 4978 or email  

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