It's intriguing and a little icky but it's amazing what she is able to tell about insect behaviour on dead tissue, and that's why we felt the need to profile her.

That's what the spokesperson for Time said in naming professor Gail Anderson, of Simon Fraser University, one of the world's six leading innovators in the field of crime and punishment.

She is a forensic entomologist--a bug scientist who studies the behaviour of bugs in relation to the death of people. Using the known behaviours of bugs, and the known processes of death and dying, she is able to determine time and cause of death in defiance of the 24/24 hour rule.

This rule, until recently merciless, declares the first 24 hours after death the most yielding of information about the last 24 hours of the victim's life, which contain the time, circumstances, and agent of death.

If I look at the body and say these insects are at this particular stage in their life and this species takes seven days to get to that stage of its life under the (weather) conditions we've had . . . I can be sure (of the time of death) and testify in court.

In a real life CSI, professor Anderson was able to help police secure the conviction for second-degree murder of a man who killed his girlfriend. Her work revealed the woman had been dead several weeks, dispite several witnesses reporting they had seen the victim a week before her death.

Two years ago Anderson began compiling a national database of the habits of insects across Canada to assist in her mission.

To not know when your loved one died is incredibly, incredibly disturbing; so by giving them a time of death, I can give them a little bit of peace just with that, but more importantly, we can also help catch the person who did it.

In a world where life seems to become disposible, professor Anderson shows a most refreshing respect and reverence for life that extends beyond life.

A dead person has rights too as do their families.


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