Forensics graduate students learn from bugs
The semester-long research conducted by graduate forensics students was abuzz on campus this week as they presented findings on the use of insects in crime scene investigations. Graduate students in Professor Kirsten Martin’s Forensic Entomology course determined how various chemicals and environments can affect insects and their ability to inhabit decomposing remains.
By studying insects, forensic scientists can determine key factors—how long the body has been decaying and if the body has been moved, among others—that aid in investigations. Dr. Martin’s students took their research a step farther by examining conditions, which may inhibit or advance the insects occupation of the body. Four student groups researched topics focused on the effects of sun and shade on various insects’ succession; the effects of full water-submersion on insects’ arrival; and the effects of perfume and hand lotion on insect response. Each group placed a suitable food source, such as chicken or pork, in a location of their choice. They then spent the semester netting, collecting, and identifying the various insects that were attracted to the remains. Some of the groups were surprised by their findings, and discussed the various factors, such as weather, which also affected insect arrival.
Julia Bendzin ’10, G’11 studied abroad at Chaminade University in Hawaii during her senior year at Bay Path, where she worked with entomologists. She served as the teacher’s assistant for the course, and provided peers insight in identifying insect specimens collected during their research.
Class Participants and Projects:
Ashley Bein ’10, G’11, Nicole Clark ’10, G’11, and Kristal Cormier ’10, G’11 studied the influence of perfumed pork on insects.
Kathleen Rodrigue ’10, G’11 and Sheena Maggiolino ’10, G’11 examined the effects of water-submerged insect arrival.
Jessica Gasbarino ’05, G’11 and Lora Smith ’07, G’11 looked at the impact of full sun and shade.
Noelle Jacques ’07, G’11 and Lauren Atwater ’10, G’11 studied the effect of hand lotion on insect arrival.