Southeastern's Science on Tap lecture to focus on forensic entomology

Thursday, March 20, 2014
by: Rene AbadieForensic Entomology

BUG COLLECTION – Erin Watson-Horzelski, left, associate professor of biological sciences at Southeastern Louisiana University, works with graduate student Danielle Levron of Cut Off to collect insects used in forensic entomology research. Watson-Horzelski will discuss the important roles of insects in forensics at the next Science on Tap seminar to be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 1, at Tope lá Catering in Hammond.

HAMMOND – Forensic entomology, the use of bugs found at crime scenes, will be the topic of discussion at Southeastern Louisiana University's next Science on Tap seminar scheduled Tuesday, April 1.

The informal presentation – entitled "Forensic Entomology: Bugs, Cadavers and Crimes in Louisiana," by Southeastern Associate Professor of Biology Erin Watson-Horzelski – will be held at 7 p.m. at Tope lá Catering, 113 East Thomas St., Hammond. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the presentation is free and open to all ages.

Watson-Horzelski is the only doctoral-level forensic entomologist in Louisiana and serves as a consultant to the FBI and area law enforcement agencies.

"Forensic entomology is often used to estimate the time since death in homicides or other cases," said Watson-Horzelski. "We study the development rates of insects that invade and feed on decomposing carcasses to give us a clue regarding the time of death. In many cases, this can be a key element in gaining a conviction."

Watson-Horzelski maintains an outdoor "body farm" of decomposing pig carcasses that she and her students use in studying the insects and topsoil microbes associated with cadaver decomposition islands. Research in her lab also includes development studies of flies and beetles for postmortem estimations and life history studies of the hairy maggot blow fly, a recent invader in the area that is impacting the native insect species at the crime scene.

For more information, contact the Department of Biological Sciences at 985-549-3740.


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