MAKE no bones about it – there might not be a white coat in sight, but Xanthe Mallett is serious about her science.
Dr Mallett is a forensic anthropologist at the University of New England (UNE) and presenter of the BBC series History Cold Case, which screens on SBS on Sunday nights.
She told The Leader the program looked at archaeological remains and investigated them to the furthest extent possible using the latest techniques and technologies.
But unlike many documentary series, History Cold Case does not focus on the noteworthy or famous people of the past.
“We’re fascinated with celebrity culture, but normal people are just as fascinating,” Dr Mallett said.
She said she really enjoyed her time on the series, piecing together scientific evidence and information from historians and literature to create a picture of the person in question and the time in which they lived.
Dr Mallett was involved in the series with a team from the University of Dundee in Scotland, where she worked before moving to Armidale.
While History Cold Case was her first TV appearance, it won’t be her last.
Work on another TV series will start next month, and while details are under wraps, UNE will be involved.
Dr Mallett said she wanted to continue to educate and enthuse the public, and raise the profile of science through documentaries.
When not on our TV screens, Dr Mallett specialises in sex offender cases and the behavioural patterns of offenders online.
It was this work that brought her to Australia.
She had a growing interest in this side of forensic anthropology and said Australia was more active in this field than the United Kingdom.
Having visited before and enjoying the lifestyle, it became a matter of waiting for the right opportunity.
Dr Mallett moved over in March last year, before husband Neil Telling joined her in August.
“I love Armidale, actually. Since I’ve arrived, everyone’s been very welcoming and friendly,” she said, adding the “beautiful” countryside and distinct four seasons were among the town’s other attractions.
Research into sex offender behaviour was really important, given such advances as the National Broadband Network, she said – while these technologies offered many benefits, they could also leave some more vulnerable.
Despite having achieved so much since gaining her PhD in 2007, forensic science was not always a clear career choice for Dr Mallett.
A trained dancer and actress (and former model), it sprung from a desire to do something more academic.
The field sparked her interest when a broken knee from a car accident put her out of action and left her pondering what to do.
“It’s a strange coincidence I ended up doing something I really enjoy,” she said.