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 6 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

Artist Frank Boelter sitting in life-size paper boat

Creator of crowdfunding teaching tool says entrepreneurship courses should drop the traditional business plan as a method of assessment

Man photocopying a book

Students think it ‘unfair’ to be punished for unintentional plagiarism

Child drives miniature car into people

Smaller, newer alternative providers are less likely to pass higher education review, analysis says

Superhero costumes hanging on a washing line

Senior management do not recognise support staff’s pivotal role in achieving positive student outcomes, administrators say

to write students’ assessed essays in return for cash

Vic Boyd was on the lookout for academic writing opportunities. What she found was somewhat less appetising...