Dr Alice Towler
Casual Academic

Dr Alice Towler

Science
School of Psychology

I research ways to improve the accuracy and efficiency of face identification decisions in forensic settings. This includes identifying predictors of superior face identification ability (super-recognition), developing evidence-based facial image comparison methods and training, and optimising how humans and facial recognition software work together to identify people.

Together with my colleagues Dr. David White and Prof. Richard Kemp at the UNSW Forensic Psychology Lab, I work closely with the Australian Passport Office to improve the detection of identity fraud in passport applications.

I am an active member of the Evidence Based Forensics Initiative, an inter-disciplinary group of lawyers, forensic scientists and cognitive scientists, advocating evidence-based practice in the forensic sciences.

  • Book Chapters | 2021
    Towler A; Kemp RI; White D, 2021, 'Can Face Identification Ability Be Trained?', in Forensic Face Matching: Research an Practice, Oxford University Press, pp. 89 - 114, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198837749.003.0005
    Book Chapters | 2020
    Towler A; Kemp R; White D, 2020, 'Can face identification ability be trained? Evidence for two routes to expertise', in Forensic face matching: Research and practice
    Book Chapters | 2020
    Towler A; White D; Kemp R, 2020, 'Can face identification ability be trained? Evidence for two routes to expertise', in Center for Open Science, Center for Open Science, http://dx.doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/g7qfd
    Book Chapters | 2020
    White D; Towler A; Kemp R, 2020, 'Understanding professional expertise in unfamiliar face matching', in Forensic face matching: Research and practice
    Book Chapters | 2020
    White D; Towler A; Kemp R, 2020, 'Understanding professional expertise in unfamiliar face matching', in PsyArXiv, Center for Open Science, http://dx.doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/z2ugp
    Book Chapters | 2017
    Towler A; Kemp RI; White D, 2017, 'Unfamiliar face matching systems in applied settings', in Bindemann M; Megreya A (ed.), Face Processing: Systems, Disorders and Cultural Differences, Nova, pp. 21 - 40
  • Journal articles | 2022
    Carragher DJ; Towler A; Mileva VR; White D; Hancock PJB, 2022, 'Masked face identification is improved by diagnostic feature training', Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, vol. 7, http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s41235-022-00381-x
    Journal articles | 2022
    Growns B; Dunn JD; Helm RK; Towler A; Kukucka J, 2022, 'The low prevalence effect in fingerprint comparison amongst forensic science trainees and novices', PLoS ONE, vol. 17, pp. e0272338, http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0272338
    Journal articles | 2022
    Growns B; Dunn JD; Mattijssen EJAT; Quigley-McBride A; Towler A, 2022, 'Match me if you can: Evidence for a domain-general visual comparison ability', Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, vol. 29, pp. 866 - 881, http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13423-021-02044-2
    Journal articles | 2022
    Growns B; Towler A; Dunn JD; Salerno JM; Schweitzer NJ; Dror IE, 2022, 'Statistical feature training improves fingerprint-matching accuracy in novices and professional fingerprint examiners', Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, vol. 7, http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s41235-022-00413-6
    Journal articles | 2021
    Carragher DJ; Towler A; Mileva VR; White D; Hancock P, 2021, 'Masked face identification is improved by diagnostic feature training', , http://dx.doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/e9fq3
    Journal articles | 2021
    Edmond G; White D; Towler A; San Roque M; Kemp R, 2021, 'FACIAL RECOGNITION AND IMAGE COMPARISON EVIDENCE: IDENTIFICATION BY INVESTIGATORS, FAMILIARS, EXPERTS, SUPER RECOGNISERS AND ALGORITHMS', Melbourne University Law Review, vol. 45, pp. 99 - 160, https://law.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/4074254/03-Edmond-et-al-99.pdf
    Journal articles | 2021
    Towler A; Keshwa M; Ton B; Kemp RI; White D, 2021, 'Diagnostic Feature Training Improves Face Matching Accuracy', Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition, vol. 47, pp. 1288 - 1298, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000972
    Journal articles | 2020
    Dunn JD; Summersby S; Towler A; Davis JP; White D, 2020, 'UNSW Face Test: A screening tool for super-recognizers', PLoS ONE, vol. 15, pp. e0241747, http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0241747
    Journal articles | 2020
    Dunn JD; Summersby S; Towler A; Davis JP; White D, 2020, 'UNSW Face Test: A screening tool for super-recognizers', PLoS One, http://dx.doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/k7mf6
    Journal articles | 2020
    Robertson DJ; Sanders JG; Towler A; Kramer RSS; Spowage J; Byrne A; Burton AM; Jenkins R, 2020, 'Hyper-realistic Face Masks in a Live Passport-Checking Task', Perception, vol. 49, pp. 298 - 309, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0301006620904614
    Journal articles | 2019
    Towler A; Kemp RI; Bruce V; Burton AM; Dunn JD; White D, 2019, 'Are face recognition abilities in humans and sheep really 'comparable'?', Royal Society Open Science, vol. 6, http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.180772
    Journal articles | 2019
    Towler A; Kemp RI; Mike Burton A; Dunn JD; Wayne T; Moreton R; White D, 2019, 'Do professional facial image comparison training courses work?', PLoS ONE, vol. 14, pp. e0211037, http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0211037
    Journal articles | 2018
    Kramer RSS; Manesi Z; Towler A; Reynolds MG; Burton AM, 2018, 'Familiarity and Within-Person Facial Variability: The Importance of the Internal and External Features.', Perception, vol. 47, pp. 3 - 15, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0301006617725242
    Journal articles | 2018
    Towler A; White D; Ballantyne K; Searston RA; Martire KA; Kemp RI, 2018, 'Are Forensic Scientists Experts?', Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, vol. 7, pp. 199 - 208, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jarmac.2018.03.010
    Journal articles | 2017
    Edmond G; Towler A; Growns B; Ribeiro G; Found B; White D; Ballantyne K; Searston RA; Thompson MB; Tangen JM; Kemp RI; Martire K, 2017, 'Thinking forensics: Cognitive science for forensic practitioners', Science and Justice, vol. 57, pp. 144 - 154, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scijus.2016.11.005
    Journal articles | 2017
    Kramer RSS; Telfer CGR; Towler A, 2017, 'Visual comparison of two data sets: Do people use the means and the variability?', Journal of Numerical Cognition, vol. 3, pp. 97 - 111, http://dx.doi.org/10.5964/jnc.v3i1.100
    Journal articles | 2017
    Towler A; White D; Kemp RI, 2017, 'Evaluating the feature comparison strategy for forensic face identification', Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, vol. 23, pp. 47 - 58, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xap0000108
    Journal articles | 2016
    Edmond G; Found B; Martire K; Ballantyne K; Hamer D; Searston R; Thompson M; Cunliffe E; Kemp R; San Roque M; Tangen J; Dioso-Villa R; Ligertwood A; Hibbert D; White D; Ribeiro G; Porter G; Towler A; Roberts A, 2016, 'Model forensic science', Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, vol. 48, pp. 496 - 537, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00450618.2015.1128969
    Journal articles | 2014
    Towler A; White D; Kemp RI, 2014, 'Evaluating training methods for facial image comparison: The face shape strategy does not work', Perception, vol. 43, pp. 214 - 218, http://dx.doi.org/10.1068/p7676
  • Preprints | 2022
    Robertson D; Davis J; Sanders J; Towler A, 2022, The super-recogniser advantage extends to the detection of hyper-realistic face masks, http://dx.doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/u2kja
    Preprints | 2022
    de Lima Varela VP; Towler A; Kemp R; White D, 2022, Looking at faces in the wild, http://dx.doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/v7df6
    Preprints | 2021
    Towler A; Dunn JD; Martínez SC; Moreton R; Eklöf F; Ruifrok A; Kemp R; White D, 2021, Diverse routes to expertise in facial recognition, http://dx.doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/fmznh
    Preprints | 2020
    Towler A; White D; Kemp R, 2020, Can face identification ability be trained? Evidence for two routes to expertise, http://dx.doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/g7qfd
    Reports | 2020
    White D; Towler A; Jeffery L; Kemp R; Palermo R; Ballantyne K; Curby K; Edmond G; Martire K; O'Toole A; Phillips J; San Roque M; Wilmer J; Carter T; Dunn J; Tullberg C; Ferguson D; Geach J; Heyer R; Michalski D; Moreton R; Noyes E; Ritchie K; Sutherland C, 2020, Evaluating face identification expertise: Turning theory into practice, https://socialsciences.org.au/workshop/evaluating-face-identification-expertise-turning-theory-into-practice/
    Preprints | 2020
    White D; Towler A; Kemp R, 2020, Understanding professional expertise in unfamiliar face matching, http://dx.doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/z2ugp