The Ohio State University: M.S., Ph.D.; Entomology
Hiram College: B.A.; Biology
Courses Taught at SHSU
Within Biological Sciences:
Introduction Evolutionary Biology
Medical and Medicocriminal Entomology
We are currently cataloguing microbial and insect diversity of southeastern Texas with the goal of establishing reliable occurrence models for forensically significant species. We have been able to take advantage of the Applied Anatomical Research Center to do this research on human remains. Despite the integral role of bacteria and subsequent role of insects in the decomposition process, very little of the bacterial basis of decomposition or it’s function in insect recruitment to a carcass is understood. For example, in special cases when bacterial communities are altered or flies are excluded, the carcass may saponify or mummify. These differences are due to many factors. One factor is that much of what is “known” about the bacterial basis of decomposition is based on assumptions with no experimental data to support any hypothesis. To confound this problem, studies have estimated that up to 99% of bacterial species found in nature cannot be cultured by conventional means. The difficulties associated with studying human decomposition are dependent upon many factors and the route taken to get to the end stage of skeletal remains can vary based on the conditions of body prior to the initiation of decomposition. Our research unites disparate disciplines of forensic biology and fills a multidisciplinary knowledge gap where data is severely lacking.
*Thank you to all our students past and present who have helped with research.