Science Week: A close examination of Forensic Scientific Section

It is Science Week 2020, and to celebrate we are featuring some of the staff in the Queensland Police Service (QPS) Forensic Services Group.

Introducing one of our scientists specialising in Chemical Criminalistics…

Name: Gary J. Asmussen

Rank: Professional Officer Level 5

Branch: Forensic Services Group, Scientific Section


  • Bachelor of Applied Science – Applied Chemistry (QUT)
  • Master of Environmental Mgt (UQ)

Year joined QPS: 2000

Meet Gary Asmussen from the Forensic Scientific Section

What is the most interesting part of your job?

I am the team leader of several professional chemists who assist investigating and forensic police with the examination and analysis of trace chemical and physical evidence.

It is very rewarding to be able to apply my knowledge and experience to assist the QPS further their forensic services capabilities, particularly in the field of chemical trace evidence.

The results of our examinations allow us to form conclusions that assist the courts in determining the outcome of a trial.

This makes this job very satisfying as I am playing a part in providing families some form of closure by either implicating or exonerating individuals involved in crimes.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The area of forensics that my team is concerned with is referred to as Chemical Criminalistics which encompasses many competencies such as ignitable liquid residues, glass comparison, paints and polymers and gunshot residues.

Because of the breath of our scope, we use a variety of chemistries and therefore a diverse range of instrumental techniques to examine these chemical types.

The chemists in our team require high levels of expertise in many different instrumental types such as scanning electron microscopy- energy dispersive X-ray analysis (SEM-EDX), gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), pyrolysis GC/MS, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), Ultraviolet/visible spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, optical stereo and compound microscopy.

What is your most memorable moment in this role?

There have been many memorable moments during my career working for QPS.

Often the moments when an innocent person can be exonerated based on my evidence are just as satisfying as those that serve to indict.

Also, there have been opportunities for me to use my knowledge and experience as a chemist to help the QPS advance in the way in which it conducts examinations.

Nurturing collaboration with other Queensland Government departments and accessing expertise and knowledge outside my area as a chemist, including geological and mineralogical expertise, has allowed the QPS to access otherwise un-tapped knowledge and resources that they are now are able to utilise to improve the way crime scenes are processed and evidence is collected.

Ultimately meaning a better service for the people of Queensland and for families affected by crime.

We will continue to showcase unique science-oriented roles within the QPS Forensic Services Group throughout the week.

For information about how to join the Queensland Police Service, visit the recruiting website:

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