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ISBN: 9781552214121-15

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Forensic Entomology

From: Lawyer's Guide to the Forensic Sciences


Discusses forensic entomology, which is the study of the carrion insects associated with a dead body. The chapter begins with an overview of the science of forensic entomology and what it can determine in a death investigation, including body relocation and body disturbance. The role of the forensic entomologist in criminal cases is also explained, and legal context is given.



Gail S Anderson

Gail S. Anderson, MPM, PhD, is a professor in forensic entomology in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University (SFU), co-director of the Centre for Forensic Research, and a forensic consultant to the RCMP and municipal police across Canada; she holds a Burnaby Mountain Endowed Professorship at SFU. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the Canadian Society of Forensic Science. Dr. Anderson has been analyzing forensic entomology cases since 1988 and has testified as an expert witness in court many times. She received the Simon Fraser University Alumni Association Outstanding Alumni Award for Academic Achievement in 1995 and a YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Science and Technology in 1999, and was also a recipient of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 Award in 1999. Dr. Anderson was listed in Time magazine as one of the top five innovators in the world, this century, in the field of criminal justice and was featured on the cover. Dr. Anderson was presented with the Derome Award in 2001. She was listed as one of the 100 most influential women in British Columbia by the Vancouver Sun and received a Dean’s Medal for Academic Excellence in 2014.

Sherah L VanLaerhoven

Dr. Sherah VanLaerhoven, BSc, MPM, PhD, received her doctor of philosophy degree (2001) from the University of Arkansas in entomology, and master of policy management degree (1997) and bachelor of science degree in biology (1995) from Simon Fraser University, B.C. Dr. VanLaerhoven is an associate professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Windsor. She is a past president of the North American Forensic Entomology Association and currently serves on the board of directors for the Canadian Society of Forensic Science. She has served on the board of directors for the entomological societies of British Columbia and Ontario. She is a Board Certified Entomologist (BCE); a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Entomology (D-ABFE); and a consultant and expert witness for police, medical examiners/coroners, and lawyers in Canada and internationally, including the high-profile cases R. v. Truscott and R. v. Baltovitch. Her research in forensic entomology focuses on causes and mechanisms for variability in arrival patterns of insects on bodies and testing current assumptions regarding the behaviour of forensically relevant insects. Her work has been featured numerous times in different media including Discovery Channel, Discovery Magazine, the Globe and Mail, NPR, and CBC Radio. She was awarded Canada’s Top 40 under 40 (2006) and the C. Gordon Hewitt Medal (2009).

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.