Forensic Entomology in the School of Forensic and Applied Science is supported by two dedicated research laboratories. For the rearing of insects, especially blowflies, we have a number of programmable incubators, where light and temperature regimes can be set. The largest of these is a walk-in facility with ample space for many cultures, while the newest enable temperature variations to be set. These allow us to carry out research especially into blowfly (Calliphoridae, Diptera) development, as well as supply living material for practical classes in the second year module on Forensic Entomology. We also keep live cultures of other forensically important insects, such as hide beetles and cockroaches. A large number of stereo microscopes are utilised in classes for close examination of insect material.
Viv Heaton is a PhD student investigating the phenomenon of maggot masses; large group feeding of blowfly larvae. In particular, she is carrying out experiments to quantify the relationship between size of the mass and the temperature it generates. Peter Cross, a member of staff, is doing a part-time PhD concerned with changes in the populations of silphid beetles (especially Necrodes littoralis) in the decomposition process at different times of the year. Every year we have one or more MSc students who choose a dissertation topic which requires them to use the entomological facilities.
The TRACES experimental field facility allows us to carry out research on wider aspects of forensic entomology, such as above and below ground colonisation of carcasses, decomposition rates and ecological studies.