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ISBN: 9781552214121-13

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Forensic Botany

From: Lawyer's Guide to the Forensic Sciences


Explores forensic botany, which refers to the scientific use of plants and plant parts in legal cases. The science of forensic botany is discussed, and the role of the forensic botanist in criminal cases is explained.



Rolf W Mathewes

Rolf W. Mathewes, BSc, PhD, is currently a full professor of biological sciences, and served as associate dean of Science at Simon Fraser University (SFU) between 2000 and 2011. He received a bachelor of science degree in biology from SFU in 1969 and a doctoral degree in botany from the University of British Columbia in 1973. After a year’s postdoctoral research in Cambridge, England, he returned to British Columbia and eventually took up a faculty position in biological sciences at SFU in 1975. He has conducted paleoenvironmental research in Scotland, Western Canada, and Europe, and has researched in Germany as an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation research fellow on three occasions. In his academic career, he has been president of both the Canadian Association of Palynologists and the American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists, and associate editor of the Canadian Journal of Botany and Ecoscience. He has published more than 120 scientific articles and co-edited a book on Haida Gwaii in 2005. He received the 2011 SFU Alumni Association award for academic achievement. As a forensic botanist, he has, since 1986, investigated homicide cases with the RCMP, the Vancouver Police Department, and municipal police forces, as well as non-homicide cases, including Aboriginal land claims issues.

Caitlin Pakosh

Caitlin M. Pakosh, HBSc, JD, has been working as case management counsel of Innocence Canada (formerly known as AIDWYC) since 2012 and is responsible for managing the Association’s cases across Canada. She obtained her honours bachelor of science degree, specializing in forensic anthropology and earning a minor in biology, from the University of Toronto Mississauga in 2008. Her undergraduate thesis, which examined the decomposition of dismembered pig limbs enclosed in plastic bags and submerged in Lake Ontario, was conducted during her internship with the Toronto Police Service Marine Unit and published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences in 2009. Ms. Pakosh obtained her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Calgary in 2011. She has appeared in the Court of Appeal for Ontario and has worked on intervener and appellate cases that have appeared at a variety of levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as ministerial review applications. Since 2013, Ms. Pakosh has cross-examined forensic science students in annual mock trials at the University of Toronto Mississauga, where students practise being expert witnesses. She is a member of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She is also an associate member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the Canadian Society of Forensic Science.