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 3 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

Featured Jobs

Forrest Post Doctoral Research Fellow

University Of Western Australia

Research Fellow in Statistical Epidemiology

London School Of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (lshtm)

Phone Advisor

Gsm London
See all jobs

Most Commented

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'