Simona Francese

Professor Simona Francese PhD, BSc Hons

Professor of Forensic and Bioanalytical Mass Spectrometry


I was appointed as a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University in 2008 following a post doc at the University of Leeds in 2005 and post as Research Fellow at the Interdepartmental Centre of Mass Spectrometry, University of Florence, Italy (2005-2008). I teach separation and detection techniques, analytical science and bioanalytical methods. I am an internationally known researcher in the area of Forensic and Bioanalytical Mass Spectrometry and I work closely with DSTL and West Yorkshire Police UK. I have been awarded the title of Professor of Forensic and Bioanalytical Mass Spectrometry in 2018.. I am the deputy Head of the Centre for Mass Spectrometry Imaging and the Head of the Bioanalytical Research Group since 2020.


I hold a degree in Chemistry and a PhD in Chemical Sciences awarded by the University of Salerno, Italy, in 2000 and 2004 respectively. The PhD was split between the Italian institution and the University of Leeds, UK, thanks to a Marie Curie Fellowship. I have been promoted to Senior Lecturer and then to Reader at Sheffield Hallam University in 2009 and 2014 respectively and became Professor of Forensic and Bioanalytical Mass Spectrometry in 2018. I lead two undergraduate modules and one MSc module in the areas of analytical chemistry and applied research.

As an analytical chemist and mass spectrometrist, I developed my career at SHU by forming and leading a research group (The Fingerprint Research Group). I engage in commercial, media and public engagement activities, building and fostering important collaborations with prestigious partners such as the Home Office UK, West Yorkshire Police, the Ministry of Defense Science and Technology laboratory (DSTL) and the Netherlands Forensic Institute, as well as with pharmaceutical, mass spectrometry and forensic companies (e.g. GlaxoSmithKline, Waters, HTX technologies, Consolite Forensics) .

I have contributed to raise the profile of Sheffield Hallam University through pioneering research on extracting intelligence from the chemistry of fingermarks developing MALDI mass spectrometry based technologies which has been selected as one of the impact case study for REF 2021. The research has been supported on sustained basis, by the Home Office, West Yorkshire Police and DSTL (amongst other) since 2011. Research dissemination is being undertaken: (i) through classic routes via more than 27 peer reviewed publications on molecular fingerprinting, (ii) numerous invitations to deliver presentations on national and international platforms including plenary and keynote talks (over 100 to date), prestigious and continuous national and international coverage by important outlets, with the BBC being one such examples, as well as a TED talk. The research has been so successful that MALDI MS has now been included as a Category C, TLR 3-4 technique in the Home Office Fingermark Visualisation Manual launched in 2014 and is now being promoted to Category B.

I undertake casework for the Police in the UK and Europe and for forensic providers with respect to extracting additional intelligence from fingermarks.

I am presently the Chair of the EU COST Action CA16101 MULTI-modal Imaging of FOREnsic SciEnce Evidence (MULTI-FORESEE)- tools for Forensic Science coordinating 32 countries and more than 120 members.

I am extremely active in the research field, having published to date 69 peer reviewed papers, 5 application notes, 6 book chapters and 1 book as an Editor. My extensive and rounded research activities have led to my inclusion in REF 2014 and REF 2021 becoming the Impact Coordinator for my department, for REF 2021. I was also featured in the case study for the Athena SWAN Competition in 2013 which led to the award of the silver medal and I was named "inspirational woman" in 2015 at Sheffield Hallam University.

I am heavily involved in teaching activities both through extensive direct contact with students and through devising learning and teaching strategies to enhance students' learning experience. I act as a referee for numerous journals and grant-awarding bodies including STW, MRC and the US Defence Army. I am member of The International Mass Spectrometry Imaging Society, The British Mass Spectrometry Society, The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences and part of the prestigious International Fingermark Research Group and European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (only accepting members on invitation) and Fellow of the Higher Education.


Department of Biosciences and Chemistry

College of Health, Wellbeing and Life Sciences

Subject Area

I teach separation and detection methods with particular focus on chromatographic and advanced mass spectrometry techniques at both undergraduate and Master level. I also lead the Research Project Module guiding 250+ students towards becoming independent scientists and coordinating 50+ members of staff.


BSc Chemistry, BSc Biochemistry, BSc BMS, BSc Biology, BSc Human Biology, MSc Analytical Chemistry, MSc Pharmaceutical Analysis.


Separation and Detection techniques, Advanced Analytical Chemistry and Research Project.


Current research interests lie into the development of MALDI MS Imaging as a platform for a plethora of forensic applications including the analysis of fingermarks, blood, hair and documents.

The project "Human identification through advanced forensic mass spectrometry of blood and fingermarks" focusses on:

  • Refinement of MALDI MS and machine learning approaches for the determination of sex from fingermarks
  • Determination of human age from fingermarks
  • of physiological or pathological states through detection and mapping of Haemoglobin variants in blood marks and bloodstains

The project "Method refinement and validation for the operational non presumptive and informative detection of blood in stains and fingermarks" focusses on:

  • Expansion of the compatibility MALDI MS based approaches for blood analysis with forensic blood enhancement techniques
  • Discrimination between human and animal blood and blood from other biological fluids
  • Development of new operational workflows for bloodmarks and bloodstains analysis integrating the use of MALDI
  • Investigation of forensic recoverability of blood age

Featured Projects

Relevant Projects

Chemical Profiling and Imaging of fingermarks

MALDI MSP and MALDI MSI method refinement for operational deployment in casework - this project focuses on maximising forensic opportunities from fingerprints by transferring laboratory MALDI MS Fingermark Profiling and Imaging techniques into protocols for routine operational use in casework. This work represents a major breakthrough into how fingerprints are used as forensic evidence. The project aims to deliver both offender profiling and enhance crime contextual information. Integration of these methodologies within the current fingerprinting workflows employed by Yorkshire and the Humber fingerprint identification services is an essential part of these developments. Such refined methodologies will robust and compatible workflows providing evidence to inform investigations and suitable to be submitted in a Court of Law. The research has been endorsed and supported by the Home Office CAST, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (MoD), The Netherlands Forensic Institute and West Yorkshire Police (collaborators). Another strand of this research is the non invasive detection of cancer using fingertip smears. The research has a primary diagnostic connotation but will feed into the plethora of information about an individual that we can gather through a fingerprint.

Multi-informative and specific detection of blood in fingermarks via MALDI MS based strategies

In violent offences, blood is often found at crime scenes. Important intelligence and assistance in event reconstruction can be obtained from ascertaining the presence of blood, its provenance, age and its association with fingermarks (the most used means of biometric identification). Currently used blood detection techniques suffer from “false positives” due to their relatively generic molecular targets; this project aims to develop a proteomic and MALDI MS based multidisciplinary approach for the device of operational workflows providing blood signatures in fingermarks and blood provenance in addition to detecting exogenous substances of forensic relevance. Insights into the donors pathophysiological states and identity are also being gained.

The research has been endorsed and supported by the Home Office CAST, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (MoD), The Scottish Police Authority and Elite Forensics LLC (US).

Collaborators and Sponsors

  • Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (UK)
  • London South Bank University (Dr S. Bleay)
  • Yorkshire and Humber Regional Scientific Support (Mr N. Denison and Mr Peter Arnold)
  • Scottish Police Authority (Mr Chris Gannicliffe)
  • Elite Forensics L.t.d. (Dr Glenn Langenburg)


Journal articles

Kjeldbjerg Lassen, J., Bradshaw, R., Villesen, P., & Francese, S. (2023). Statistical modelling investigation of MALDI-MSI-Based approaches for document examination. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 28 (13).

Frisch, K., Nielsen, K.L., & Francese, S. (2023). MALDI MSI separation of Same Donor’s fingermarks based on time of deposition—a proof-of-concept study. Molecules, 28 (6).

Russo, C., Wyld, L., Da Costa Aubreu, M., Bury, C.S., Heaton, C., Cole, L.M., & Francese, S. (2023). Non-invasive screening of breast cancer from fingertip smears—a proof of concept study. Scientific Reports, 13 (1).

Kennedy, K., Gannicliffe, C., Cole, L., Sealey, M., & Francese, S. (2022). In depth investigation of the capabilities and limitations of combined proteomic-MALDI MS based approach for the forensic detection of blood. Science & Justice, 62 (5), 602-609.

Amin, M.O., Al-Hetlani, E., & Francese, S. (2022). Magnetic carbon nanoparticles derived from candle soot for SALDI MS analyses of drugs and heavy metals in latent fingermarks. Microchemical Journal, 178.

(2022). Interdisciplinary forensics: government, academia and industry interaction. Multimedia Tools and Applications, 81 (16), 22609.

Fischer, T., Marchetti-Deschmann, M., Cristina Assis, A., Levin Elad, M., Algarra, M., Barac, M., ... Francese, S. (2022). Profiling and imaging of forensic evidence – a pan-European forensic round robin study part 1: document forgery. Science and Justice, 62 (4), 433-447.

Kennedy, K., Cole, L., Witt, M., Sealey, M., & Francese, S. (2022). Forensic discrimination of differentially sourced animal blood using a bottom-Up proteomics based MALDI MS approach. Molecules, 27 (7).

Bury, C.S., Heaton, C., Cole, L., McColm, R., & Francese, S. (2022). Exploring the problem of determining human age from fingermarks using MALDI MS-machine learning combined approaches. Analytical Methods.

Bleay, S.M., Bailey, M.J., Croxton, R.S., & Francese, S. (2021). The forensic exploitation of fingermark chemistry: A review. WIREs Forensic Science, 3 (4).

Heaton, C., Witt, M., Cole, L., Eyre, J., Tazzyman, S., McColm, R., & Francese, S. (2021). Detection and mapping of haemoglobin variants in blood fingermarks by MALDI MS for suspect "profiling". Analyst.

Kennedy, K., Benjat, R., Heaton, C., Herman, Y., Oz, C., Elad, M.L., ... Francese, S. (2021). "MALDI-CSI": A proposed method for the tandem detection of human blood and DNA typing from enhanced fingermarks. Forensic Science International.

Bradshaw, R., Wilson, G., Denison, N., & Francese, S. (2020). Application of MALDI MS Imaging after sequential processing of latent fingermarks. Forensic Science International, 110643.

Russo, C., Heaton, C., Flint, L., Voloaca, O., Haywood-Small, S., Clench, M., ... Cole, L. (2020). Emerging applications in mass spectrometry imaging; enablers and roadblocks. Journal of Spectral Imaging, 9, 1-21.

Kennedy, K., Heaton, C., Langenburg, G., Cole, L., Clark, T., Clench, M.R., ... Francese, S. (2020). Pre-validation of a MALDI MS proteomics-based method for the reliable detection of blood and blood provenance. Scientific Reports, 10 (1), 17087.

Heaton, C., Bury, C., Patel, E., Bradshaw, R., Wulfert, F., Heeren, R., ... Francese, S. (2020). Investigating sex determination through MALDI MS analysis of peptides and proteins in natural fingermarks through comprehensive statistical modelling. Forensic Chemistry, 20 (100271), 1-12.

Cole, L., Clench, M., & Francese, S. (2019). Sample treatment for tissue proteomics in cancer, toxicology, and forensics. Adv Exp Med Biol, 1073 (1073), 77-123.

Francese, S. (2019). Criminal profiling through MALDI MS based technologies – breaking barriers towards border-free forensic science. Australian journal of forensic sciences.

Francese, S. (2018). Investigation of infinite focus microscopy for the determination of the association of blood with fingermarks. Science & Justice, 58 (6), 397-404.

Flinders, B., Beasley, E., Verlaan, R.M., Cuypers, E., Francese, S., Bassindale, T., ... Heeren, R.M.A. (2017). Optimization of sample preparation and instrumental parameters for the rapid analysis of drugs of abuse in hair samples by MALDI-MS/MS imaging. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 28 (11), 2462-2468.

Francese, S., Bradshaw, R., & Denison, N. (2017). An update on MALDI Mass Spectrometry based technology for the analysis of fingermarks - stepping into operational deployment. The Analyst, 142, 2518-2546.

Bradshaw, R., Denison, N., & Francese, S. (2017). Implementation of MALDI MS profiling and imaging methods for the analysis of real crime scene fingermarks. Analyst, 142 (9), 1581-1590.

Beasley, E., Francese, S., & Bassindale, T. (2016). Detection and mapping of Cannabinoids in single hair samples through rapid derivatization- Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Mass Spectrometry. Analytical Chemistry, 88 (20), 10328-10334.

Waller, R., Woodroofe, N., Wharton, S.B., Ince, P.G., Francese, S., Heath, P.R., ... Simpson, J.E. (2016). Gene expression profiling of the astrocyte transcriptome in multiple sclerosis normal appearing white matter reveals a neuroprotective role. Journal of Neuroimmunology, 299, 139-146.

Bradshaw, R., Denison, N., & Francese, S. (2016). Development of operational protocols for the analysis of primary and secondary fingermark lifts by MALDI-MS Imaging. Analytical Methods, 8 (37), 6795-6804.

Mitchell, C.A., Donaldson, M., Francese, S., & Clench, M. (2016). MALDI MSI analysis of lipid changes in living skin equivalents in response to emollient creams containing palmitoylethanolamide. Methods, 104, 93-100.

Deininger, L., Patel, E., Clench, M.R., Sears, V., Sammon, C., & Francese, S. (2016). Proteomics goes forensic: detection and mapping of blood signatures in fingermarks. Proteomics, 16 (11-12), 1707-1717.

Deininger, L., Patel, E., Clench, M.R., Sears, V., Sammon, C., & Francese, S. (2016). Outside Front Cover: Proteomics goes forensic: Detection and mapping of blood signatures in fingermarks. Proteomics, 16 (11-12), 1.

Patel, E., Cicatiello, P., Deininger, L., Clench, M., Marino, G., Giardina, P., ... Francese, S. (2016). A proteomic approach for the rapid, multi-informative and reliable identification of blood. The Analyst, 141 (1), 191-198.

Patel, E., Cole, L.M., Bradshaw, R., Batubara, A., Mitchell, C.A., Francese, S., & Clench, M. (2015). MALDI-MS imaging for the study of tissue pharmacodynamics and toxicodynamics. Bioanalysis, 7 (1), 91-101.

Reed, H., Stanton, A., Wheat, J., Kelley, J., Davis, L., Rao, W., ... Francese, S. (2015). The Reed-Stanton press rig for the generation of reproducible fingermarks : towards a standardised methodology for fingermark research. Science & justice, 56 (1), 9-17.

Patel, E., Clench, M.R., West, A., Marshall, P.S., Marshall, N., & Francese, S. (2015). Erratum to: Alternative Surfactants for Improved Efficiency of In Situ Tryptic Proteolysis of Fingermarks. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 26 (10), 1795.

Mitchell, C.A., Long, H., Donaldson, M., Francese, S., & Clench, M. (2015). Lipid changes within the epidermis of living skin equivalents observed across a time-course by MALDI-MS imaging and profiling. Lipids in Health and Disease, 14 (1), 84.

Groeneveld, G., de Puit, M., Bleay, S., Bradshaw, R., & Francese, S. (2015). Detection and mapping of illicit drugs and their metabolites in fingermarks by MALDI MS and compatibility with forensic techniques. Scientific Reports, 5 (11716).

Bailey, M.J., Bradshaw, R., Francese, S., Salter, T.L., Costa, C., Ismail, M., ... de Puit, M. (2015). Rapid detection of cocaine, benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine in fingerprints using surface mass spectrometry. Analyst, 140 (18), 6254-6259.

Patel, E., Clench, M., West, A., Marshall, P.S., Marshall, N., & Francese, S. (2015). Alternative Surfactants for Improved Efficiency of In Situ Tryptic Proteolysis of Fingermarks. Journal of The American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 26 (6), 862-872.

Bradshaw, R., Bleay, S., Clench, M., & Francese, S. (2014). Direct detection of blood in fingermarks by MALDI MS profiling and imaging. Science & justice, 54 (2), 110-7.

Francese, S., Bradshaw, R., Ferguson, L.S., Wolstenholme, R., Clench, M.R., & Bleay, S. (2013). Beyond the ridge pattern: multi-informative analysis of latent fingermarks by MALDI mass spectrometry. The Analyst, 138 (15), 4215.

Bradshaw, R., Bleay, S., Wolstenholme, R., Clench, M., & Francese, S. (2013). Towards the integration of matrix assisted laser desorption ionisation mass spectrometry imaging into the current fingermark examination workflow. Forensic Science International, 232 (1-3), 111-124.

Bradshaw, R., Wolstenholme, R., Ferguson, L.S., Sammon, C., Mader, K., Claude, E., ... Francese, S. (2013). Spectroscopic imaging based approach for condom identification in condom contaminated fingermarks. The Analyst, 138 (9), 2546.

Hart, P.J., Francese, S., Woodroofe, M.N., & Clench, M.R. (2013). Matrix assisted laser desorption ionisation ion mobility separation mass spectrometry imaging of ex-vivo human skin. International Journal for Ion Mobility Spectrometry, 16 (2), 71-83.

Ferguson, L.S., Creasey, S., Wolstenholme, R., Clench, M.R., & Francese, S. (2013). Efficiency of the dry-wet method for the MALDI-MSI analysis of latent fingermarks. Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 48 (6), 677-684.

Francese, S., Bradshaw, R., Flinders, B., Mitchell, C., Bleay, S., Cicero, L., & Clench, M.R. (2013). Curcumin: a multipurpose matrix for MALDI mass spectrometry imaging applications. Analytical chemistry, 85 (10), 5240-5248.

Djidja, M.-.C., Francese, S., Claude, E., Loadman, P., Sutton, C., Shynder, S., ... Clench, M. (2013). Targeting of Hypoxia in AQ4N-treated Tumour Xenografts by MALDI-Ion Mobility Separation-Mass Spectrometry Imaging. Current Analytical Chemistry, 9 (2), 212-225.

Bradshaw, R., Rao, W., Wolstenholme, R., Clench, M.R., Bleay, S., & Francese, S. (2012). Separation of overlapping fingermarks by Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation Mass Spectrometry Imaging. Forensic Science International, 222 (1), 318-326.

Ferguson, L.S., Wulfert, F., Wolstenholme, R., Fonville, J.M., Clench, M., Carolan, V.A., & Francese, S. (2012). Direct detection of peptides and small proteins in fingermarks and determination of sex by MALDI mass spectrometry profiling. The Analyst, 137 (20), 4686-4692.

Seppala, U., Francese, S., Turillazi, S., Moneti, G., Clench, M., & Barber, D. (2012). In situ imaging of honeybee (Apis mellifera) venom components from aqueous and aluminum hydroxide-adsorbed venom immunotherapy preparations. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 129 (5), 1314-1320.

Bailey, M.J., Bright, N.J., Croxton, R.S., Francese, S., Ferguson, L.S., Hinder, S., ... Bleay, S. (2012). Chemical characterization of latent fingerprints by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization, time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry, mega electron volt secondary mass spectrometry, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared spectroscopic imaging: an intercomparison. Analytical chemistry, 84 (20), 8514-8523.

Trim, P.J., Djidja, M.-.C., Muharib, T., Cole, L.M., Flinders, B., Carolan, V., ... Clench, M. (2012). Instrumentation and software for mass spectrometry imaging -making the most of what you've got. Journal of Proteomics, 75 (16), 4931-4940.

Waller, R., Woodroofe, M.N., Francese, S., Heath, P.R., Wharton, S.B., Ince, P.G., ... Simpson, J.E. (2012). Isolation of enriched glial populations from post-mortem human CNS material by immuno-laser capture microdissection. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 208 (2), 108-113.

Bradshaw, R., Wolstenholme, R., Blackledge, R.D., Clench, M.R., Ferguson, L.S., & Francese, S. (2011). A novel matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation mass spectrometry imaging based methodology for the identification of sexual assault suspects. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 25 (3), 415-422.

Ferguson, L., Bradshaw, R., Wolstenholme, R., Clench, M., & Francese, S. (2011). Two-step matrix application for the enhancement and imaging of latent fingermarks. Analytical Chemistry, 83 (14), 5585-5591.

Hart, P.J., Francese, S., Claude, E., Woodroofe, M.N., & Clench, M.R. (2011). MALDI-MS imaging of lipids in ex vivo human skin. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 401 (1), 115-125.

Avery, J.L., McKewen, A., Flinders, B., Francese, S., & Clench, M. (2011). Matrix assisted laser desorption mass spectrometry imaging for the examination of imipramine absorption by straticell-RHE-EPI/001 an artificial model of the human epidermis. Xenobiotica, 41 (8), pp 735-742.

Donnini, S., Finetti, F., Francese, S., Boscaro, F., Dani, F., Maset, F., ... Ziche, M. (2011). A novel protein from the serum of Python sebae, structurally homologous to γ-phospholipase A2 inhibitor, displays antitumor activity. Biochemical Journal, 440 (2), 251-262.

Dani, F.R., Michelucci, E., Francese, S., Mastrobuoni, G., Cappellozza, S., La Marca, G., ... Pelosi, P. (2011). Odorant-Binding Proteins and Chemosensory Proteins in Pheromone Detection and Release in the Silkmoth Bombyx mori. Chemical senses.

Baracchi, D., Francese, S., & Turillazzi, S. (2011). Beyond the antipredatory defence: honey bee venom functions as a component of social immunity. Toxicon, 58 (6-7), 550-557.

Djidja, M.C., Claude, E., Snel, M.F., Francese, S., Scriven, P., Carolan, V., & Clench, M.R. (2010). Novel molecular tumour classification using MALDI-mass spectrometry imaging of tissue micro-array. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 397 (2), 587-601.

Trim, P.J., Djidja, M.C., Atkinson, S.J., Oakes, K., Cole, L.M., Anderson, D.M.G., ... Clench, M.R. (2010). Introduction of a 20 kHz Nd:YVO4 laser into a hybrid quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometer for MALDI-MS imaging. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 397 (8), 3409-3419.

Scollato, A., Terreni, A., Caldini, A., Salvadori, B., Gallina, P., Francese, S., ... Di Lorenzo, N. (2010). CSF proteomic analysis in patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus selected for the shunt: CSF biomarkers of response to surgical treatment. Neurological Sciences, 31 (3), 283-291.

Wolstenholme, R., Bradshaw, R., Clench, M.R., & Francese, S. (2009). Study of latent fingermarks by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation mass spectrometry imaging of endogenous lipids. Rapid communications in mass spectrometry, 23 (19), 3031-3039.

Djidja, M.C., Francese, S., Loadman, P.M., Sutton, C.W., Scriven, P., Claude, E., ... Clench, M.R. (2009). Detergent addition to tryptic digests and ion mobility separation prior to MS/MS improves peptide yield and protein identification forin situproteomic investigation of frozen and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded adenocarcinoma tissue sections. Proteomics, 9 (10), 2750-2763.

Djidja, M.-.C., Claude, E., Snel, M.F., Scriven, P., Francese, S., Carolan, V., & Clench, M.R. (2009). MALDI-Ion Mobility Separation-Mass Spectrometry Imaging of Glucose-Regulated Protein 78 kDa (Grp78) in Human Formalin-Fixed, Paraffin-Embedded Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Tissue Sections. Journal of Proteome Research, 8 (10), 4876-4884.

Grossi, C., Francese, S., Casini, A., Rosi, M.C., Luccarini, I., Fiorentini, A., ... Casamenti, F. (2009). Clioquinol decreases amyloid-β burden and reduces working memory impairment in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimer's disease, 17 (2), 423-440.

Trim, P.J., Francese, S., & Clench, M.R. (2009). Imaging mass spectrometry for the assessment of drugs and metabolites in tissue. Bioanalysis, 1 (2), 309-319.

Francese, S., Dani, F.R., Traldi, P., Mastrobuoni, G., Pieraccini, G., & Moneti, G. (2009). MALDI mass spectrometry imaging, from its origins up to today: the state of the art. Combinatorial chemistry & high throughput screening, 12 (2), 156-174.

Cavatorta, V., Sforza, S., Mastrobuoni, G., Pieraccini, G., Francese, S., Moneti, G., ... Marchelli, R. (2009). Unambiguous characterization and tissue localization of Pru P 3 peach allergen by electrospray mass spectrometry and MALDI imaging. Journal of mass spectrometry, 44 (6), 891-897.

Francese, S., Lambardi, D., Mastrobuoni, G., la Marca, G., Moneti, G., & Turillazzi, S. (2009). Detection of honeybee venom in envenomed tissues by direct MALDI MSI. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 20 (1), 112-123.

Dani, F.R., Francese, S., Mastrobuoni, G., Felicioli, A., Caputo, B., Simard, F., ... Turillazzi, S. (2008). Exploring Proteins in Anopheles gambiae Male and Female Antennae through MALDI Mass Spectrometry Profiling. PLoS ONE, 3 (7), e2822.

La Marca, G., Malvagia, S., Filippi, L., Fiorini, P., Innocenti, M., Luceri, F., ... Guerrini, R. (2008). Rapid assay of topiramate in dried blood spots by a new liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometric method. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, 48 (5), 1392-1396.

Casini, A., Gabbiani, C., Mastrobuoni, G., Pellicani, R.Z., Intini, F.P., Arnesano, F., ... Messori, L. (2007). Insights into the molecular mechanisms of protein platination from a case study: the reaction of anticancer platinum(II) iminoethers with horse heart cytochrome c. Biochemistry, 46 (43), 12220-12230.

Stockley, P.G., Rolfsson, O., Thompson, G.S., Basnak, G., Francese, S., Stonehouse, N.J., ... Ashcroft, A.E. (2007). A simple, RNA-mediated allosteric switch controls the pathway to formation of a T=3 viral capsid. Journal of molecular biology, 369 (2), 541-552.

Turillazzi, S., Bruschini, C., Lambardi, D., Francese, S., Spadolini, I., & Mastrobuoni, G. (2007). Comparison of the medium molecular weight venom fractions from five species of common social wasps by MALDI-TOF spectra profiling. Journal of mass spectrometry : JMS, 42 (2), 199-205.

Casini, A., Mastrobuoni, G., Temperini, C., Gabbiani, C., Francese, S., Moneti, G., ... Messori, L. (2007). ESI mass spectrometry and X-ray diffraction studies of adducts between anticancer platinum drugs and hen egg white lysozyme. Chemical communications (Cambridge, England), (2), 156-158.

Prosinecki, V., Botelho, H.M., Francese, S., Mastrobuoni, G., Moneti, G., Urich, T., ... Gomes, C.M. (2006). A proteomic approach toward the selection of proteins with enhanced intrinsic conformational stability. Journal of proteome research, 5 (10), 2720-2726.

Stockley, P.G., Ashcroft, A.E., Francese, S., Thompson, G.S., Ranson, N.A., Smith, A.M., ... Stonehouse, N.J. (2005). Dissecting the Fine Details of Assembly of aT = 3 Phage Capsid. Journal of Theoretical Medicine, 6 (2), 119-125.

Francese, S., Cozzolino, A., Caputo, I., Esposito, C., Martino, M., Gaeta, C., ... Neri, P. (2005). Transglutaminase surface recognition by peptidocalix[4]arene diversomers. Tetrahedron Letters, 46 (10), 1611-1615.

Ruoppolo, M., Orrù, S., D'Amato, A., Francese, S., Rovero, P., Marino, G., & Esposito, C. (2003). Analysis of transglutaminase protein substrates by functional proteomics. Protein science : a publication of the Protein Society, 12 (6), 1290-1297.

Ruoppolo, M., Orrù, S., Francese, S., Caputo, I., & Esposito, C. (2003). Structural characterization of transglutaminase-catalyzed cross-linking between glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase and polyglutamine repeats. Protein science : a publication of the Protein Society, 12 (1), 170-179.

Orru, S., Ruoppolo, M., Francese, S., Vitagliano, L., Marino, G., & Esposito, C. (2002). Identification of tissue transglutaminase-reactive lysine residues in glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase. Protein science : a publication of the Protein Society, 11 (1), 137-146.

Conference papers

Sklavos, N., & Francese, S. (2020). MULTI-modal Imaging of FOREnsic SciEnce Evidence: MULTI-FORESEE Project. 2020 23rd Euromicro Conference on Digital System Design (DSD).


Waller, R., Heath, P.R., Woodroofe, M.N., Francese, S., Wharton, S.B., Ince, P.G., ... Simpson, J.E. (2012). Microarray analysis of the astrocyte transcriptome in normal appearing white matter in multiple sclerosis. JOURNAL OF NEUROIMMUNOLOGY, 253 (1-2), 54.

Seppala, U., Francese, S., Turilazzi, S., Moneti, G., Clench, M., & Barber, D. (2012). In Situ Imaging Of Honeybee (Apis Mellifera) Venom Components From Immunotherapy Preparations. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 129 (2), AB113.

Rolfsson, O., Toropova, K., Morton, V., Francese, S., Basnak, G., Thompson, G.S., ... Stockley, P.G. (2008). RNA Packing Specificity and Folding during Assembly of the Bacteriophage MS2. Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine, 9 (3-4), 339-349.

Moneti, G., Francese, S., Mastrobuoni, G., Pieraccini, G., Seraglia, R., Valitutti, G., & Traldi, P. (2007). Do collisions inside the collision cell play a relevant role in CID-LIFT experiments? Journal of mass spectrometry : JMS, 42 (1), 117-126.

Book chapters

Francese, S., & Bradshaw, R. (2021). New Chemical Imaging Approaches to Fingermark Dating by Mass Spectrometry. In Technologies for Fingermark Age Estimations: A Step Forward. (pp. 237-259). Springer International Publishing:

Bradshaw, R., & Francese, S. (2021). Chapter 15. MALDI Mass Spectrometry Imaging in the Forensic Arena. In MALDI Mass Spectrometry Imaging. (pp. 359-386). Royal Society of Chemistry:

Francese, S. (2016). Techniques for Fingermark Analysis Using MALDI MS: A Practical Overview. In Advances in MALDI and Laser-Induced Soft Ionization Mass Spectrometry. (pp. 93-128). Springer International Publishing:

Reed, H., Stanton, A., & Francese, S. (2014). Design as mediation. In Designa 2013 : interface. Proceedings. (pp. 191-208). Covilha: Universidade da Beira Interior (UBI)

Francese, S., & Clench, M.R. (2010). MALDI Mass Spectrometry Imaging, a New Frontier in Biostructural Techniques: Applications in Biomedicine. In Shah, H.N., & Gharbia, S.E. (Eds.) Mass Spectrometry for Microbial Proteomics. (pp. 91-116). Wiley:


Francese, S. (2019). Preface.

Theses / Dissertations

Heaton, C.E.G. (2022). Human identification through advanced forensic mass spectrometry of blood and fingermarks. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Francese, S., Cole, L., & McColm, R.

Kennedy, K. (2022). Refinement and validation of multi-source blood detection for operational use. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Francese, S.

Deininger, L. (2018). Multi-Informative and Specific Detection of Blood inFingermarks via MALDI-MS Based Strategies. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Francese, S.

Martin, S. (2016). Identification and mechanistic study of novel drug metabolites by LC-MS. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Lenz, E., Clench, M., Francese, S., & Temesi, D.

Hart, P.J. (2012). MALDI-MS investigation of skin and its response to irritants and sensitisers. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Clench, M., Woodroofe, N., & Francese, S.


Reed, H., Francese, S., Wheat, J., & Wolstenholme, R. (2014). POWDER DISCHARGE GUN. WO2014016563 (A1).


Witt, M., Heaton, C., Kennedy, K., Langenburg, G., & Francese, S. (2021). MALDI imaging of blood and blood provenance in old fingermarks. Presented at: American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) 2021 Annual Conference, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 2021

Other activities

- Associate Editor for Science and Justice
- Chair of the EU Action CA16101 (Horizon 2020)
- PhD external examiner
- International Consultant
- External Examiner for distance learning MSc forensic programme at the University of Leicester
- Media and lay audience engagement

Postgraduate supervision

Catherine Kennedy - "Method refinement and validation for the operational non presumptive and informative detection of blood in stains and fingermarks." (Feb 2019- Aug 2022)

Cameron Heaton - "Human identification through advanced forensic mass spectrometry of blood and fingermarks" (Oct 2017-April 2021)

Previous supervision:

  • Jan 2019-Jan 2020 -Dr Cristina Russo
  • Oct 2014 - Oct 2017 - Lisa Deininger - "Multi-informative and specific detection of blood in fingermarks via MALDI MS based strategies"
  • Nov 2012 - Nov 2016 - Ekta Patel - "Using ion mobility mass spectrometry to investigate the distribution and affect of dosed compounds on endogenous molecules"
  • Nov 2014 - Apr 2016 - Dr Robert Bradshaw - "Chemical Profiling of fingermarks : MALDI MSP and MALDI MSI method refinement for operational deployment in casework”
  • Oct 2011 - Oct 2014 - Robert Bradshaw - “Integration of MALDI MSI into the Home Office operational fingermark examination workflow”
  • Oct 2009 - Oct 2012 - Leesa Ferguson - “Analysis of composition of latent fingerprints by spectroscopic imaging techniques”

Previous supervision:

Oct 2014 - Oct 2017 - Lisa Deininger - "Multi-informative and specific detection of blood in fingermarks via MALDI MS based strategies"

Nov 2012 - Nov 2016 - Ekta Patel - "Using ion mobility mass spectrometry to investigate the distribution and affect of dosed compounds on endogenous molecules"

Nov 2014 - Apr 2016 - Robert Bradshaw - "Chemical Profiling of fingermarks : MALDI MSP and MALDI MSI method refinement for operational deployment in casework”

Oct 2011 - Oct 2014 - Robert Bradshaw - “Integration of MALDI MSI into the Home Office operational fingermark examination workflow”

Oct 2009 - Oct 2012 - Leesa Ferguson - “Analysis of composition of latent fingerprints by spectroscopic imaging techniques”


Recent stories about my fingermark research have attracted worldwide coverage in trade and online publications, including BBC's 'The One Show', 'Click', 'Crimewatch Roadshaw' and 'BBC breakfast', as well as overseas programmes such as the German 'Finde den Lügner' ('Find the Liar').


  • BBC Crimewatch Roadshow, 13 June 2018
  • BBC Radio World, 20 July 2015, , ~ 80 million listeners [from 43m]
  • BBC Crimewatch Roadshow, 20 June 2014 ~ 1 million viewers
  • BBC Radio World 29 March 2014~ 80 million listeners
  • BBC Radio 4 Today 28 March 2014 [from 01hr21m50s]~4 million listeners
  • BBC News On line 28 March 2014,000 readers
  • BBC Radio 5 28 March 2014 [from 40m30s]
  • BBC Radio Wales [from 01hr56m20s]
  • BBC One Click 29 March 2014 million viewers
  • BBC World news Mar 2014~300 million viewers
  • BBC Breakfast Mar 2014~1 million viewers
  • BBC Radio Sheffield [2 April 2014]
  • BBC 1, The One Show: 28th April 2012, ~5 million viewers
  • BBC World Service, Radio 4 Science in Action 29/01/2012 min in
  • BBC news 19/01/2011,
  • Front Page BBC News 04/08/2011.

Other TV shows

Pro 7 German National channel, 16th June 2015, Finde den lugner, ~1.8 million viewers:


  • Real Radio [29 Mar 2014] Hourly bulletins
  • Hallam FM[20 Jan 2011]
  • Peak FM[20 Jan 2011]

Websites (selection)

  • Thinking Digital Conference [8 August 2019] The Cutting Edge of Fingerprint Science
  • The Verge [9 Apr 2014] Red-handed: can we make fingerprints better at catching criminals?
  • CBR Online [1 Apr 2014] UK researchers’ latest fingerprint tech can recognise gender More coverage on the University's ground-breaking research into new fingerprint technology that can detect traces of drugs and even the sex of the criminal.
  • Indian Express [31 March 2014] New fingerprinting technique can identify suspect’s gender
  • [29 Mar 2014]
  • Chemical and Engineering News [8 May, 2013] Analysing Fingerprints with a Dash of Tumeric”,
  • Daily News Analysis, India [21 Jul 2013] Tumeric Powder to be used in Forensics
  • Royal Society of Chemistry, Chemistry World- [March 2012]Another brick in the Whorl,:
  • Science Daily [19 Jan 2011] New Technique to Help Catch Sexual Offenders: Scientists Detect Condom Lubricant On Fingermarks for the First Time
  • The Engineer [19 Jan 2011] Lubricant in fingermarks could catch out sexual offenders
  • Science Daily [3 Aug 2011, circulation 114,066] Pioneering Fingermark Technology Uses Mass Spectrometry Imaging to Provide Crime Scene Investigators With Key Extra Details
  • Cordis News [11 Jun 2010] Criminal clues at your fingertips
  • Sky news [12 May 2010] Burglars' Diets Could Land Them In Jail,

Newspapers (selection)

  • Yorkshire Post [13 Aug 2015] (mention to SHU Fingermark Research Group)
  • The Times [30 June 2015] (circulation 394,448)
  • El periodico [13 April 2014] (circulation 125,000) La nueva frontera de las huellas dactilares
  • The Times [29 Mar 2014] (circulation 394,448) Fingerprint test unlocks the secret of your sweat
  • The Star [June 2013] Spice is hot at cracking crime
  • Daily Mail [5 Aug 2011, circulation 4.2 million] Fingerprints breakthrough will reveal if criminal suspect has taken drugs or been in contact with explosives
  • Police Professional [28 Jul 2011] Pioneering Fingerprint technology
  • Yorkshire Post [27 Jul 2011] University adds to fingerprint technology
  • The Engineer [26 Jul 2011,circulation 31,241] Home Office funds research into fingerprinting technology
  • Canberra Times (Australia) [30 Jan 2011] Lubricant leaves vital signature
  • Sheffield Star [21 Jan 2011] Innovation to help snare sex offenders
  • Shropshire Star [20 Jan 2011] Scientists now able to trace offenders.
  • Yorkshire Post [20 Jan 2011] Scientists close net on rapists using condoms
  • The Engineer [19 Jan 2011,] Lubricant in fingermarks could catch out sexual offenders
  • Sheffield Telegraph [13 May 2010] Academics point finger at criminals,
  • Yorkshire Post [13 May 2010, circulation 130,000] Research into prints analysis will aid crime fight

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