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UBC dentistry prof awarded top military honour

“I realize I have continued to make a difference through application of newer forensic methods, sharing information," says professor.

UBC dentistry prof awarded top military honour
Photo of David Sweet (left) from UBC website and General Thomas Lawson from Canadian Armed Forces website.

Canada’s chief of defence staff, the country’s top soldier, will present University of British Columbia, Dentistry Professor David Sweet, OC, with a medal for distinguished service.


Sweet is being honoured for his work in forensic odontology—the science of victim identification using teeth and dental charts, according to a UBC media release.


General Thomas Lawson arrived at UBC on Friday to award Sweet the Medallion of Distinguished Service, the highest Canadian Armed Forces medal for civilian service.


Sweet’s contributions to the science of forensic identification include developing new investigative techniques and passing that knowledge on to others.


Sweet led a team of Canadian forensic experts into the gruesome aftermath of the tsunami in Thailand and in BC his expertise was used in the investigation of serial killer Robert Pickton.


The work takes Sweet to scenes of mass casualties, but he says his work is also on behalf of the living.


“Responders that identify positively the bodies of found persons can provide much needed answers for waiting loved ones,” said Sweet. “We can make things better for families searching for news and information.”


Sweet’s credits as a forensic investigator and teacher include:

• Founder, BC’s Odontology Response Team (BC-FORT)
• Chief Scientific Officer, INTERPOL’s identification section
• Director, Bureau of Legal Dentistry (BOLD) based at UBC.


Forensic techniques and protocols developed by Sweet and his BOLD colleagues are theatre of war forensic practices for the Canadian Military, U.S. Military and several NATO countries.


This is not the first time Sweet has been recognized at home for his dedication. In 2008, he received the Order of Canada. Sweet says today’s award is a special salute.


“I realize I have continued to make a difference through application of newer forensic methods, sharing information, and maintaining high standard that all of our BC team members foster. I am truly humbled by this honour.”

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