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Issue Date: December 2004 Issue


Insect Forensics
Most people don't spend a lot of time thinking about beetles, maggots and flies, but these creepy, crawly and sometimes downright nauseating creatures are often instrumental in helping police solve crimes.

Brynn Burton

Most people don't spend a lot of time thinking about beetles, maggots and flies, but these creepy, crawly and sometimes downright nauseating creatures are often instrumental in helping police solve crimes. Thanks in part to the recent surge in popularity of television shows such as "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," a traveling exhibit titled CSI: Crime Scene Insects comes to HealthSpace Cleveland this month.

"We have taken something that is, maybe on the surface, a little gruesome or repulsive and made it something that people can understand, respect and learn from," says exhibit curator Dr. Lee Goff, a professor and chair of the forensic-sciences program at Chaminade University of Honolulu.

The exhibit covers the general aspects of forensic entomology: the process of using insects to help solve crimes. In this interactive, hands-on exhibit, visitors try to solve actual crimes using real data,

see a hypnotizing stroboscopic sculpture of a fly's life cycle and analyze specimen slides.

"Each exhibit attraction is a good overview of the science and put together in an appealing way," says Goff.

Just as a crime scene isn't the most comforting thing to look at, some of the exhibit's attractions aren't either. Goff advises parents that portions of the exhibit may be too intense for junior detectives.

"I hope when people leave they will know how insects fit into crime scenes, into the general ecosystem and into our legal system," Goff says.

The exhibit will be on display at HealthSpace Cleveland through Jan. 30.


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