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Renowned forensic entomologist Gail Anderson (left) has dedicated her first book, on biological factors affecting criminal behavior, to her friend and mentor Thelma Finlayson (right). Professor emerita of entomology and Order of Canada recipient, Finlayson, 92, still counsels SFU students 28 years after her retirement and remains one of the university's most beloved personalities.

Book dedicated to Thelma Finlayson

January 25, 2007

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Gail Anderson's first book, Biological Influences on Criminal Behavior (CRC Press/Taylor and Francis Group/SFU Publications, 2006), questions the way criminologists have traditionally ignored or dismissed biological factors when attempting to explain criminal behavior.

But the renowned SFU forensic entomologist, who pioneered the use of insect evidence to solve homicides, never once questioned to whom she was going to dedicate the book.

Along with her family, "I dedicated it to my mentor and friend, professor (emerita) Thelma Finlayson, who led the way for Canadian women in science," says Anderson, now a mentor herself to many young scientists. "Thelma has been a constant source of support and strength for me and countless other women scientists. And at 92, she still volunteers two days a week at SFU counselling students with academic difficulties. She's just amazing."

In layman-friendly language, Anderson's groundbreaking book introduces criminologists and students to contemporary research in genetics, biochemistry, diet and brain disease they might not otherwise encounter in their study of criminal behavior. She explores biological hypotheses such as natural selection and evolution in relation to behaviour, and considers genetic variables including inheritance patterns, sex-linked characteristics and aggressive tendencies.

Anderson also discusses research on hormonal effects, brain chemistry and organic brain dysfunction, investigations into fetal conditions and birth-related difficulties, and research on nutrition and food allergies.

Finlayson, who retired in 1979, was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2005 for for her contributions to science and volunteer service, and received an honorary SFU degree in 1996. She says she is delighted and honoured by Anderson's dedication in her book, which she praises as "a very important contribution to a subject that has been overlooked for far too long." And, she adds, "I'm very proud of all of Gail's accomplishments. She was one of our best students."

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