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Nepali forensic odontologist attends international conference and shares her expertise

Posted: 22 January 2024

Nepal, Alumni, Impact, Linkages,

Australia Awards alum and forensic odontologist Dr Samarika Dahal recently participated in a forum that has been described as “a pinnacle in the history of forensic science conferences”. The event was the 23rd Triennial Meeting of the International Association of Forensic Sciences (IAFS), held in conjunction with the 26th Symposium of the Australian & New Zealand Forensic Science Society on 20–24 November 2023 at the International Convention Centre Sydney, Australia. Dr Dahal’s attendance was supported by Australia Awards – Nepal as an Australian Professional Opportunity.

Dr Dahal attending the 23rd Triennial Meeting of IAFS 2023 at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, Australia.

More than 1700 delegates from 70 countries participated at IAFS 2023, including 20 scholarship recipients from low- to middle-income nations. The event’s program featured four plenary sessions, ten parallel breakout sessions spanning 22 disciplines, approximately 600 electronic posters and 25 pre-conference workshops.

The conference is a focal point for professionals around the world who are determined to make the world safer and fairer with science and medicine. By bringing together these professionals and helping them share knowledge, the event has played a pivotal role in developing forensic sciences globally.

Dr Dahal is an Associate Professor, Head of Department and Deputy Director at the Institute of Medicine’s Maharajgunj Medical Campus in Kathmandu. In 2013, she completed a Fellowship in Forensic Dentistry at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine in Melbourne, Australia, with the support of Australia Awards.

Reflecting on her IAFS 2023 attendance, Dr Dahal says, “I participated in learning about the humanitarian aspect of forensic sciences, as there was a symposium on humanitarian forensics. However, the conference helped me understand many aspects of forensics that need to be developed in Nepal, especially artificial intelligence.”

In addition, the event offered Dr Dahal ample opportunities to exchange ideas and expertise with the global forensic community. She made sure to take full advantage of the networking possibilities.

“Meeting many professionals around the globe introduced me to their concepts about the humanitarian aspect of forensics. It helped me expand my network and understanding,” she says. “My cherished highlight was sharing my ideas and interacting with the Head and Deputy Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross.”

Dr Dahal with Shiying Li, Editor in Chief of the journal Forensic Sciences Research, during IAFS 2023.

Attending IAFS 2023 also assisted Dr Dahal to further develop the Institute of Medicine’s linkages, knowledge and capacity in forensic sciences. She says, “The networks formed may assist in developing task forces and guidelines related to the management of the deceased, which is [a pressing need] in disaster-prone countries like Nepal.”

Australian Professional Opportunities (APOs) are learning and development activities funded by the Australian Government and facilitated by Australia Awards.