Felicity Poulsen knows that her grandfather was one of the lucky ones to have returned home from war.
This is why the Griffith honours student is so passionate about her latest research project helping the Australian Defence Force (ADF) identify unrecovered Australian servicemen.
With Anzac Day tomorrow Felicity said it was timely to highlight the importance of ensuring every Australian soldier gets a proper burial – even if it is 100 years after they died.
“Identification is the ultimate goal in this research,” she said.
“To be able to give a name back and have a soldier buried with dignity and respect I know would mean the world to their families.”
“My grandfather fought in Kokoda and he is very excited that I am part of something like this. And I am very proud to be involved.”
Felicity, who is completing a Bachelor of Forensic Science through the School of Natural Sciences, is working with Griffith senior lecturer Kirsty Wright on the project for the Unrecovered War Casualties – Army.
Ms Wright is a forensic biologist with experience in missing persons and disaster victim identification. She has previously worked in the 2002 Bali Bombings forensic operation and in the 2005 Thai Tsunami Victim Identification Team.
Ms Wright is also an officer in the Royal Australian Air Force and is assisting the ADF to improve forensic capabilities for current conflicts and the identification of historical remains.
This is the second year the project has been run at Griffith, with Felicity the third honours student to assist with the important research.
Her particular research project will investigate the paternal side of ancestry DNA used in identification purposes of soldiers particularly in World War Two from the Asian Pacific region.
Ms Wright, based at Nathan campus, said due to the remains of soldiers being so degraded, modern forensic techniques were not useful.
“We are helping develop new methods and new research that will be helpful to the military,” she said.
“If we can help identify and recover these soldiers and give them a respectful burial, it is really important to modern Australia and Anzac Day highlights that these soldiers still have an important place in our current history.
“I also think it is important for current soldiers to know the Australian Government will make every effort possible to recover and bring them home no matter when or where they fought.”