Free public lecture: How nature can help catch criminals

March 17, 2017

Dr Paola Magni

Dr Paola Magni will talk about how nature can catch criminals.

The fascinating role of insects, crustaceans and plants in criminal investigations will be presented in a free public lecture at Murdoch on Monday, 20 March.

Dr Paola Magni, a forensic biologist with a focus on entomology, will talk about a number of cases where these organisms have helped investigators understand crucial facts about murders, and even help lead them to the perpetrators.

Her presentation, entitled Crimes, Critters and Clues, takes place in the ELC2 lecture theatre on Murdoch’s Perth Campus, from 6pm.

“Plants, animals and microorganisms play an important role at the scene,” said Dr Magni, who lectures in Murdoch’s School of Veterinary and Life Sciences.

“With their presence and activity they can modify it and erase information but they can also characterise the time, the manner and the people involved in the events.

“For example, I will present the case in which a single insect found in the stomach of animal victim of poaching was used to identify the culprit. I’ll also talk about how animals that colonize human remains found in the oceans or beached on the seashore may be used to identify the time spent in the water or the provenance of the body washed for miles by currents and waves.

“We’ve even used planktonic algae, also known as diatoms, to verify the alibi of the suspect in a murder case.”

Dr Magni has been involved as an expert witness in criminal cases in her native Italy, and in Australia for the last 12 years.

Her lecture is the latest in the Undercover lecture series, free talks by Murdoch researchers which tackle common misconceptions and reveal interesting facts about a diverse range of topics investigated at the University.

To register for Dr Magni’s talk, click here.

To view what’s coming up in the series and register for those lectures, click here.

Dr Magni will also be presenting her research and case work at TEDx in Sydney on Thursday, 6 April. More details are available here.

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