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Just Flies and Their Artifacts

In episode nine of the 2019 R&D season, Just Science interviews Dr. David Rivers, a professor at Loyola University, about the detection of insect stains and the development of a quantifiable confirmatory test for fly contamination of bloodstain evidence.

There are roughly 86,000 species of flies that have been identified on a global scale. Approximately 16,000 species of flies reside in the United States. Of those 16,000 species, 1,000 are known to show interest in decomposing bodies. For post-mortem interval estimates, the species that lay eggs or deposit larvae are often considered the most useful. But now, that might not be the case. Instead of focusing on the life cycle of the fly, Dr. David Rivers has pursued a different characteristic: their behavior. Through extensive recording and observation, Dr. Rivers and his team have discovered that there are over 13 different artifacts produced as a direct result of a fly’s behavior. Listen in as he discusses the complexity of insect behavior and its potential use in a forensic investigation.

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].

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Dr. David Rivers is professor of biology and director of forensic studies at Loyola University Maryland. He received a PhD in entomology with a concentration in insect physiology from the Ohio State University and was a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow in cellular and molecular parasitology at the University of Wisconsin. He is a member of the North American Forensic Entomology Association, Entomological Society of America, and American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He also is co-author of the critically acclaimed textbook The Science of Forensic Entomology and conducts research in several areas involving necrophagous flies and parasitic wasps as they relate to legal investigations.


Additional Resources:

2019 NIJ R&D Symposium Archival