Thursday, September 14, 2017

OSCAR Student Peter Nieves Researches Insects and Post Mortem Succession

Hi my name is Peter Nieves and the research project I participated in this summer was called ‘Insects and post mortem succession’. This project was supervised by Dr. Joris Van der Ham and funded by George Mason University. This project began during the end of May and the purpose of the project was to see how different environmental parameters such as seasons, burning, location, and body composition affect the insects that interact with a decomposing body. To perform the project, we went out to a private research facility in Warrenton, VA owned by Mason called The Piedmont. There we placed 60 carcasses 15 for each parameter (four) and collected insects from the bodies in sample jars from hanging tents over the course of ten days. Once finished we returned to th
e lab and began to process the samples identifying relevant species of insects and discarding nonrelevant and finally tallying up each individual and species. This project originally interested me because it had to do with animal decomposition. I am a forensics science major with previous experience working in decomposition studies so I felt this project would make me more familiar with other aspects of forensic science and decomposition analysis. In relation to my long term goals, I want to become a pathologist in the future after going to medical school. This research may assist me in coming up with a dissertation for med school as giving me knowledge that may assist me in future endeavors. During the completion of this project I discovered that entomology like other fields of forensic science take time to master and require vast man hours to understand as well. It gave a new perspective on the work that goes along with forensic science and the importance of insect succession. It also taught me about ecological surveying which is an interesting topic as well.