Cornerstone: The Maggot Diaries
Biol 2970.048, 3 credits


Student investigating mock death scene.

Forensic Entomology is the application of entomological principles and collection of entomological data in such a manner that it can be used as evidence in courts of law to help resolve legal issues that are either criminal or civil in nature.  Students in this course will focus on medicolegal forensic entomology which utilizes insect evidence to determine cause of death, movement of a corpse, association of a suspect with the death scene, instances of child or elderly neglect or abuse, and post mortem interval (PMI; time interval between death and discovery of a body) determination in suicide and homicide cases.  Students will gain valuable knowledge in the field of forensic entomology, improve scientific literacy, build skills in scientific inquiry, and further their enthusiasm for science through the guided development of their own research projects. Results from these research projects will be presented in both verbal and written formats to crime scene units to assist real-life crime scene investigations (CSI).

Instructor bio

Dr. Heather Ketchum is an Associate Professor in Biology.

Dr. Ketchum has taught courses in Forensic Entomology, Forensic Sciences, Medical Entomology, Veterinary Entomology, Parasitology, Capstone, and Human Physiology.  In the last two years, Dr. Ketchum has been the recipient of the Good Teaching Award, and the Longmire Prize for teaching.  Her primary research interest is in Medicolegal Forensic Entomology where she focuses on factors that affect insect development on carrion and the rate of decomposition. She also uses her knowledge of Forensic Entomology to assist law enforcement and Crime Scene Units across the state of Oklahoma to assist in homicide, suicide, and cases of abuse and neglect in both humans and animals.