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Forensic Entomology (11:370:414)

View Syllabus (561k PDF)

  1. Semester: Spring
  2. Period: T; F 12:10 - 1:30 PM, Bartlett Hall 123
  3. Credits: 3
  4. Pre-requisites and Other Registration Restrictions: General Biology I and II (01:119:115/116)
  5. Texts: No Text is required for this course. Recommended text: Forensic Entomology: The Utility of Arthropods in Legal Investigations by Jason H. Byrd & James L. Castner

Course Overview: Forensic Entomology focuses on the intersection between entomology and the legal field and how we can use insects to help us solve legal problems. We explore the insects that are useful for determining time of death in a criminal study and how their succession progrsses throughout decay. The course reqiures a background in Biology or Criminal Studies.

Prerequisites: General Biology I and II (01:119:115/116)

Course Description: This course will introduce students to concepts of entomology in a forensic context and how we can apply their biology to help in legal investigations. The course will also deal with novel techniques routinely used in research to investigate the forensic significance in insect systems and techniques that can be applied to aid in legal testimony. The course will focus on the structure of case work and reports needed in forensic entomology, and their broader applications. The course will also introduce students to the fundamental concepts of insect biology, physiology and identification. Learning outcomes: This course is aimed at both students with an entomology background and those who are unfamiliar with the field. The overall objective of this course is to ensure that all students are fully aware of the fundamental importance of insect biology and the potential to apply this knowledge to legal investigations.

Link to Entomology Undergraduate Program Goals:

1. Students should be able to define and properly use key terms used in forensic entomology presented in lecture material. (addresses program goal 1)

2. Students should be able to describe key processes associated with insect identification and development in insects. (addresses program goals 1 and 3)

3. Students should be able to examine legal testimony and scientific literature to understand the methodologies and terminologies used to evaluate laboratory protocols, draw conclusions on the evidence presented and communicate this in a courtroom scenario (addresses program goals 3 and 4)

4. Students should be able to produce original work to investigate a case that can be applied to a legal investigation. Emphasis is on the ability to recognize proper protocols and draw conclusions on the significance in a legal setting. (addresses program goal 3)

Resources: Text: No Text is required for this course. Recommended text: Forensic Entomology: The Utility of Arthropods in Legal Investigations by Jason H. Byrd & James L. Castner

Grading and assignment: Exams: This course will have four exams consisting of both multiple choice and essay style questions which cover material from lectures prior to the exam and are not cumulative. The exams will assess the ability of the student to define key processes and terms associated with the lecture material

Mock Trial

Legal Case Report: Students will be assigned to a group that will be given a case report of a legal investigation that contains entomological evidence. As a group, the students will provide a report of their findings along with any conclusions that could be drawn from the report. The group will assess photographs, weather reports and insect samples to reach these conclusions. Students will be provided with potential evidence and information to reach a conclusion of the forensically important information

Legal Testimony: The testimony is the presentation portion of the legal case report where the students must testify their findings in a courtroom scenario. Students are graded on their ability to answer scientifically relevant questions pertaining to the case in a professional manner.

Cross-examination: Students will be assigned as a cross-examiner for one of their peers' cases. Students must read through the case report and find potential areas of admissible testimony. Students will be graded on their ability to analyze data and ask relevant conclusive questions about the report.

Total % contributed (course):
  Points %
Exams (15% each) 240 60%
Legal Case Report 80 20%
Legal Testimony 40 10%
Cross-examination 40 10%

Attendance Policy Attendance is expected and if you expect to miss classes, please use the University absence reporting website to indicate the date and reason for your absence. An email is automatically sent to me.

Course Etiquette Participation is required for participation points, failure to participate in discussion will result in a zero. This course requires participation in class activities, discussions, and through questions. A strict late policy is followed in this class, lateness is regarded as absence. If you miss a class you are responsible for catching up in time for assignments. classes can only be excused through university approved absences. The instructor should be provided proof of university approval no more than one week after the exam date. All assignments are expected to be submitted before the due date. Failure to submit an assignment before the deadline without a university approved absence will result in a zero on the assignment. No disturbances will be tolerated in class, this includes engaging in disruptive behavior and inappropriate cell phone or laptop use that is not related to the course. We strive to create a positive classroom climate to facilitate all students to be able to learn.

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Academic Integrity The university's policy on Academic Integrity is available at The principles of academic integrity requirethat a student: properly acknowledge and cite all use of the ideas, results, or words of others. You must acknowledge all contributors to a given piece of work. All work submitted for a course or other academic activity must be produced by the student turning in the assignment or task and is produced without the aid of impermissible materials or impermissible collaboration. All data or results must be obtained by ethical means and reported accurately without suppressing any results inconsistent with his or her interpretation or conclusions. Treat all other students in an ethical manner, respecting their integrity and right to pursue their educational goals without interference. This requires that a student neither facilitate academic dishonesty by others nor obstruct their academic progress. You are expected to uphold the canons of the ethical or professional code of the profession for which he or she is preparing. Adherence to these principles is necessary in order to ensure that everyone is given proper credit for his or her ideas, words, results, and other scholarly accomplishments. all student work is fairly evaluated, and no student has an inappropriate advantage over others. The reputation of the University for integrity in its teaching, research, and scholarship will be maintained and enhanced. Failure to uphold these principles of academic integrity threatens both the reputation of the University and the value of the degrees awarded to its students. Every member of the University community therefore bears a responsibility for ensuring that the highest standards of academic integrity are upheld.

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Chloe Hawkings
Thompson Hall, Rm 132
Office Hours: by arrangement