Maggot Girl passes on forensic bug

November 17, 2006

As nicknames go, "Maggot Girl" might not be considered one of the most flattering, but Michelle Harvey wears it with pride.

Dr Harvey, who has been appointed senior lecturer at Portsmouth University's School of Biological Sciences, is a forensic entomologist involved in investigating suspicious deaths. Her ground-breaking research uses the DNA of insects to help estimate time of death, hence her friends' nickname for her.

Dr Harvey was at the University of Western Australia, where she won a Sir Keith Murdoch Fellowship. This allowed her to spend a year at the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Facility, immortalised as "the Body Farm" by crime writer Patricia Cornwell.

She also spent a year investigating crime scenes with police in South Africa while on a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship.

Dr Harvey observes the different progress of insects depending on whether the body is buried, clothed or wrapped in plastic. She is also investigating how human DNA from maggots' stomachs can help to identify someone.

Television shows such as CSI had helped to promote forensic science to students, Dr Harvey said. "The students love the maggots. They really appreciate their role in decomposition. They find entomology has a lot more going for it than they expected."

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 10 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Brexit, EU referendum

Joanna Williams voted Leave, and has been left disappointed by the academy’s reaction to the EU referendum result

Elly Walton illustration (7 July 2016)

Researchers in the liberal arts seem to have made it their mission to communicate in the most obscure fashion, says Zachary Foster

Daniel Mitchell illustration (14 July 2016)

Frank Furedi says the mournful mood on campus and the disparagement and silencing of Leave supporters betray an isolated scholarly class

Michael Parkin illustration (7 July 2016)

Rising immigration-related costs and lack of employer support send an unwelcoming message to international staff, says Jason Danely

Female Brazilian football/soccer fan celebrating with flag of Brazil, Best universities in Latin America

Brazil leads Times Higher Education’s debut ranking of the top universities in Latin America